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May 16, 2012

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Every time my husband takes out three kids out of the house by himself, he is congratulated right and left by strangers on how well he manages the kids. People are amazed that he can take all three to a restaurant or the zoo on his own. It is sad that society seems to expect so little from fathers that strangers go out of their way to praise him for this.

"But if you aren't around your kids enough then you'll never learn how to take care of them."

Yep, you nailed it. Which is why I feel so sorry for a SAHM friend of mine whose husband took an 80-hour a week job to "better provide for" his family, and now spends next to no time with his 3 kids. On weekends, they don't want to be around dad, and dad has no patience since he's "worked all week and needs a break." You know, as opposed to his wife who's been caring for 3 kids solo all week...

This might be the most feminist thing I've ever seen on your site. And that is a good thing. It continually saddens me that in 2012, we are still having the "WOHM/WAHM/SAHM" debate, but nothing, NOTHING about dads. No "Working Dad" magazine. No worries about Dads "having it all." So I'm glad to see you've worked out some labor-sharing in your family.

I am a stay-at-home dad and know first hand how hard of a job it is to take care of a child full time. It is a rewarding and often under appreciated task. Men are often stereotyped of not wanting to be left alone with their own child. I can tell you that if we are given the opportunities by our wife's/significant others most of us will do okay. We want the best for our children as much moms do. Therefore; I listen to my son, I hold my son, I kiss my son good morning and good night and all the injuries in between.

"Having just had the millionth fight with my husband over chores and baby crap, please, point me in the right direction...how do you politely and sensitively point out that the kid needs to be changed at least once during my 6-hour work day (he is a stay-at-home dad). How do I point out that he needs to learn how to give the kid a nap (other than by screaming this at the top of my lungs)? (I arrange the work day so that I get home to give my kid a nap mid-day, or he skips the nap and bounces off the walls the rest of the day). How about teaching said husband that the kid needs to have lunch (you know the one I cooked at 5am and put a sticky note on the pot, and a little dish and spoon nearby to jog his memory)....My kid is 2!!! I think I've been a pretty good fucking sport so far."

If he, as the caretaker, is truly ignoring the child's basic needs (food/diaper/sleep/health and well-being) then he sounds neglectful/abusive. Maybe you need to rethink the relationship? You wouldn't tolerate that in a nanny, would you? As other posters have said, taking the care of the kids well but differently than you would is one thing. But this doesn't sound like that.

AMEN!

This is perfect, Kristen. I love it when our kids call out for Papa, or wait to share big news until he gets home. Men deserve to be dads, kids deserve two involved parents, and moms deserve a break. Everyone wins!

Having just had the millionth fight with my husband over chores and baby crap, please, point me in the right direction...how do you politely and sensitively point out that the kid needs to be changed at least once during my 6-hour work day (he is a stay-at-home dad). How do I point out that he needs to learn how to give the kid a nap (other than by screaming this at the top of my lungs)? (I arrange the work day so that I get home to give my kid a nap mid-day, or he skips the nap and bounces off the walls the rest of the day). How about teaching said husband that the kid needs to have lunch (you know the one I cooked at 5am and put a sticky note on the pot, and a little dish and spoon nearby to jog his memory)....My kid is 2!!! I think I've been a pretty good fucking sport so far.

Verry useull info, thanks.

One of the things that I have adored is watching my son and husband fall in love with each other. It was tough for him in the beginning when he was an infant. I don't think either of us were prepared for an infant which I think is pretty common. I think both of us half expected him to come out kicking a soccer ball. It has been so amazing to watch their relationship develop and grow over the years. And honestly, I swear my husband is the one with the most patience.

Yes. I am so lucky that my husband and I both learned through trial and error on these kids (sorry kids!) so we're both just as good and bad with them. Different, of course, but no better.

Yes!!! It took me a bit with the first one to realize this but my husband is pretty blunt. I think he might of actually pushed me out of the way at the changing table once and told me to go do something else. And that I hovered... Yup. Totally. So I gave up control and people comment on how adept he is with the kids like its some freakish event and we both look at them and say, "But he is their Dad! Why shouldn't he be good at taking care of them all by himself?!"

So glad you wrote this!

O-to-the-M-to-the-G! we are so on the same brain wave here... i'd love to connect with you about a project i'm working on involving this very thing... i'm currently in korea, but will be back in june... will you email me?

Wonderful! You have figured out how to help a dad be great - get out of the way! I hope more moms follow in your footsteps.

Thank you for candidly explaining what moms can do to help dads be great.

Fucking brilliant. Thanks for sticking up for us bumbling idiots!

that's what it all comes down to doesn't it? parenting, putting in the time, learning by doing.

and beer, obviously.

It's not a war. It's not a competition. It's parenting. Bravo!

Thanks for this! As a Dad, there has been so many strange posts lately that I didn`t even know how or where to begin responding to it. I think I'll just share what you wrote and leave it at that!

My husband is 100% confident and fearless with our kids. I first saw this when they were 1 and 3 years old and he'd take them to Costco at 1 p.m. on a Saturday by himself. See? Fearless.

I have said time and time again that, between the two of us, my husband has had more parental instinct. With our first, I had no idea how to take it easy, slow down, stop comparing myself to other moms, or enjoy our daughter and her fleeting childhood. He's always had the patience, the tolerance, the humor and the wherewithall to take parenting in strides. By the time our boys came along, things were easier and more relaxed. I realized he's taught me a thing or two about this whole parenting thing and I'll always love him for that.

Agreed! My husband has always been very active in my kids' lives (including being a SAHD for many years.) But it still took me awhile to take a step back and think, "You know, that's HIS kid just as much as mine...Just because I wouldn't do it that way doesn't mean he's doing it wrong. I've got to let him do this."

Along the lines where you said, "...doing everything they can to escape those dreaded parenting duties." One of my ALL TIME pet peeves is when fathers (or mothers for that matter) say, "I can't join you. I'm babysitting my kids tonight." YOU DON'T BABYSIT YOUR OWN CHILDREN!!!

Takes humility to say all you have given everything. No one exactly teaches us how to become parents, AND no one teaches us how to become parents *together.* xo

brava!
Years ago my darling husband taught me this when he told me to just walk away and let him do this while he was fumbling doing something with our infant first born. I know he had to tell me to just walk away (probably through gritted teeth a time or two or three) before I got it. He's a different kind of parent to our circus than I am. He's probably a better parent most of the time. Together we make a pretty good team. I'm glad all those years ago that I did finally just walk away and let him handle it...whatever it was.

Right on Motherhood Uncensored. Great to hear you stand up for fatherhood. Now the bigger question is which group of moms/parenting organizations will put their money where their mouth is and take action? How can we ask dads to invest in children, if nobody is investing time, compassion and more importantly, money into dads? The parenting landscape is so bias towards moms when it comes to funding parenting support services and programs.

The best advice I got before we started having kids was to just let my husband do any child related task the way he did it. To not hover, correct, or re-do. "Walk out of the room if you have to," my friend told me. Second-guessing him would have lead to a lot more work for me!

So true, it wasn't until I started back to work after our kids came home and I started to travel for work that I started to give over (not by choice, but necessity) more the more of the parenting responsibility to my husband. He was happy to play the goofy dad role, but that isn't the structure was have any more. And our kids are happier and better for it. We are better for it.

This is so true. My husband took over bedtime and nighttime duty for each of our kids when they weaned. My youngest strongly prefers him to put her to bed most nights, and insisted on that switch long before she quit breastfeeding.

He may not do everything the way I'd do it for other stuff with the kids or around the house, but he does it, and it works out. Rather than berate him for the differences, I prefer to be glad that he's so willing to participate.

Attention magazine and newspaper editors: Write to Kristen, negotiate a fair deal, and republish this.

You're welcome.

Amen to this!

I had to make a very conscious decision to involve my husband in the care for our child, but it has been so worth it. He is sometimes still very unsure of himself due to the conflicting messages he gets from society at large, but a quick word of encouragement from me and a big grin from our daughter and he dives right in again.

Men miss out on so much when we don't give them a chance.

Exactly. I hold back as much as I can and just key Aaron do things. Sure, maybe he isn't doing it exactly like I would, but he's doing it, and that is what matters.

Excellent post. As a At home Dad (going on three years now), I had to figure out how to do things that work for my kids and myself. My wife had to learn how to see that my way was not wrong, just different. I can not think of a better job for me than at home with my three kids (all under four!).

Thank you.

I love this, Kristen. We have to give dads space, and chances, and respect to figure parenting out...the same things we would demand for ourselves.

I was lucky to be told by someone very wise that Daddy's way is different, not necessarily wrong when I had my first. It made me get my head out of my ass long enough to see that husband is by far the more instinctive parent. Despite being an aunt at age 12 and years of babysitting under my belt, I have to read all the books. He just knows what to do without any prior experience. The man has patience beyond all reason and skillz I can only dream of having.

My husband is a stay-at-home dad so we both have the very distinct honor of both parents being very in-tuned and involved in all aspects of child care. He's being doing this since our first baby was born 7 years ago. We're both going strong at baby#3 being 8 months old now. Couldn't imagine how life would be if we hadn't made this decision. Best decision of our lives (other than deciding to have the kids in the first place :).

Bravo.

I consciously gave my husband a chance. That's it. A chance. I desperately needed him because I was so sad after the birth of our first. He rose to the occasion and then some.

Just because your husband doesn't do it the SAME way that you do, doesn't mean it's wrong. At the end of the day, our kids are cared for and most importantly, LOVED. I call that being 'results oriented.'

Amen. The best thing that happened to us was I had a C-section so I COULDN'T do all the baby care stuff in the first few days. The nurse had to come show my husband how to change a diaper the first time, but by the time I was up and going he was completely used to it (as "used to it" as you can be with a few days old baby).

A rational and calm voice in the blogosphere. Refreshing! Thanks for this.

I love this and couldn't agree more. I can't wait to become a mother, but I also can't wait to watch my husband learn as a father. The best part? We both don't have an F'ing clue what we are doing and will learn together, and we will both learn to do it all.

This is great, Kristen. Sanity!

Sweet mother of dr spock! This is so excellent. Everything you said deserves a call-and-response A freaking men. By far the best, wittiest, take on this topic I have yet to see -- very well done!

I had no kids/baby/babysitting experience when I had a baby, so I had NO IDEA what I was doing. So my husband and I got to learn it all together. I kind of love that.

You know how mine learned? I went back to work and he quit his job to be home with the kids. Of course, he missed all of the toddler and infant fun I had when I stayed at home, but he's gotten a crash course in his kids!

Hurrah! I have been tumbling these thoughts around in my mind for a while...you expressed it so eloquently. Thank you.

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