Being a parent is harder than it looks. The added responsibilities are hard enough, especially when balanced with marriage, homemanagement, and work. But the real challenge comes from all the little sacrifices we make every day, each moment we have to choose someone else’s needs over our own.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to make the difficult habit of self-giving a little easier for your husband. In informal panel of men suggests that, by keeping these 10, simple ideas in mind, you can help your husband be the dad he wants to be.
- Let your husband do things his way… They say that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. But perform parenting tasks for your husband too many times and he’ll give up trying. Instead, give your husband the benefit of the doubt. Let him be a little rough with your kids or dress them in ridiculous outfits. (My father says dads should be in charge of courage and fun.) Unless he’s causing them real harm, let your husband build a great relationship with your kids in his own way—and build his self-confidence as a dad.
- …but critique without criticism. While it’s important to let your husband do things his way, it is okay to provide constructive suggestions when things don’t seem to be working. As the mom of a toddler, for example, I often have to translate my son’s needs and desires for my husband. With a little bit of help from me, they both have a lot more fun! Many dads appreciate ideas for spending time with their children. If you do give your husband parenting advice, make sure you’re willing to accept advice and help from him, too.
- Show him respect…. One of the most important things you can to honor your husband’s masculinity is to show him your respect—especially in front of your children. Let your children see you treating him the way you want them to treat him. If you absolutely must criticize or complain, make sure you do it in private.
- …by playing for the same team. Let your children see that you respect each other’s opinions. Kids are experts at getting their own way. If they know Mom and Dad will give them different answers, they’ll soon learn to play the two of you against each other. Always support each other’s decisions in public—save disagreements for when you’re alone together. And never be afraid to ask your kids, “What did your father say?” before you give them permission to do something.
- Ask for his help… Husbands know we respect and trust them when we seek out their expertise. Raise your kids together by asking for his opinion and advice as often as possible. Tell him when you’re feeling overwhelmed—he’s probably happy to lend a hand.
- …but give him a break. Men who work outside of the home often have a hard time unwinding at the end of the day. Let him have a few minutes to read the newspaper, check his e-mail, or enjoy a nice cocktail before he goes “on duty” as Dad. Giving your husband a break is also a great way to prevent conflict in your marriage.
- Make time for each other… Remember that you were a wife first and a mom second. Parenting is important, but it is actually more important for kids to know that their parents love each other than that their parents love them! Make date night a regular event. And prioritize physical intimacy. When your man feels capable as a husband, he’ll have more confidence as a father, too.
- …and time for yourself. Motherhood is about self-sacrifice, but if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t have anything left to give. Make the effort to dress nicely and exercise. Set aside a few moments in your week to read or enjoy a hobby. Your husband is probably happy to take care of the kids if it means you’ll be a happier, healthier person better able to be a great woman, wife, and mother.
- Be encouraging. Tell your husband you think he’s doing a great job. Give him specific praise like, “Thomas really likes the game you made up!” Let him catch you bragging about him to your friends—in moderation. Be sure to thank him for all the special things he does to make your family work.
- Most importantly, communicate. Stay on the same page with your husband. Occasionally reevaluate your priorities and parenting style. Tell him what and isn’t working for you as a woman, wife, and parent. Listen to him talk about himself. Regularly share your hopes, dreams, desires, and disappointments with each other. Evening reflection rituals can be a great way to keep the lines of communication open.
Marriage and parenthood are two difficult, life-long commitments between two people. By helping your husband be a great dad, you can strengthen your marriage and your family.
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