Today’s expectations of the man’s role in child rearing is vastly different than our parent’s generation. It’s common to see a man pushing a stroller or toting a baby around in a front carrier. In the past, if a woman wanted to have a ladies night the dad was at home “babysitting” the kids. The results of the 90’s woman movement have resulted in women with higher positions at corporations and government. We want to be treated as equals and wanted men to share in equal responsibilities with the home and our children. Then why do I still find myself interfering because he isn’t doing it right!
I find I struggle with sharing the responsibilities of the children. The housework is easy to share. 😉 I notice that I feel I am “letting” my husband share in the duties instead of encouraging him to develop his newest sense of masculine identity. It’s hard to relinquish control and support him as he learns for himself how to best get the baby to sleep or how to convince the six year old that broccoli tastes good.
As a mother we have so many things embedded in our genes of how to care for children. When I find I am frustrated that he doesn’t instinctively know the difference in the baby’s cry, I remind myself that I am lucky to have such a 90’s man.
My husband is great and wants to be the active father. My controlling side has interfered and I inadvertently have discouraged him with my comments. So we developed a plan. Every time that he is doing a duty (changing diapers, bath, etc.), and I think “he isn’t doing it right!”, I leave the room. It takes conscious effort to remember that the kids are not going to die or to develop into mutants if they don’t get changed or washed just like I would do it. It takes some self-talk to remind myself that I want to support my husband in being the best father and man he can be.
My husband gets frustrated with the commercials showing the dad being a total doofus who can’t handle making dinner and caring for the kids without a major explosion. In my quest for equality I neglected the need for husband to feel competent in his child rearing abilities. Every time I made a comment about how he was doing something I was undermining him, and perpetuating the male idiot stereotype. In an attempt to truly be equal in the business of child rearing I find it helps me to relinquish control if I look at it from a men’s lib perspective. He wants to grow as a man by being a father. It’s important to me to help him in any way that I can, and sometimes that means I just have to leave the room.
By Rebecca M.