What My Husband Has Taught Me About Parenting by Musing Momma
What have you learned from your partner or your own dad, that has made you a better parent? Tell us all about it in the comments! ~Ellie
A couple of years ago I read an article in a parenting magazine (I can’t remember which one) about differences in how men and women parent. The article talked about things like dads not being able to multitask and not sticking to schedules like moms do, and then wrapped up with “how to get your husband to change.”
I don’t know how accurately the article portrayed men vs. women. It seemed awfully stereotyped. Regardless, what bothered me was the idea that because dads sometimes do things differently, they need to change – dads could be better parents, if they were just more like moms. I read that article a long time ago, but I didn’t forget it – because it touched on what seems to be a common conversation in our culture.
Back in the very early days, multitasking was not in my husband’s repertoire the way it was in mine. (He’s made big strides in this department, all on his own.) I would come home from work on a day that he had been home with our little one and find the kitchen sink full of dishes or wet laundry still in the washer. I would wonder why he hadn’t done those things, like (I assumed) I would have done had I been home all day. But if I stepped back, I would see the reason he didn’t do those things: Our son had been the object of his undivided attention. Isn’t that a good thing?
There are things that my husband and I do differently as parents. But that means that just as he can learn from me, I can learn from him.
Watching him walk the floors with our oldest when he was a baby, I learned the importance of patience. I was quick to give up and try a new approach because whatever I was doing wasn’t working. The baby was still crying. All of my change-ups probably overstimulated him. But his dad would just keep walking, keep shushing, and when he tried something new he was calm and methodical about it.
Watching him play with our boys, I learned the value of giving them my undivided attention. Sure, I get down on the floor and play with them, too, but it feels like I’m often thinking about what I need to get done. My husband does just as much around the house as I do, but it seems like he is better than I am at setting it aside and just being with the boys, even when there are other things to get done.
And watching him be “strict,” I learned the power of following through and being consistent. I’m a talker and too often speak before I think, threatening a consequence that I’m not really ready to follow through on (I’m working on that!) or letting the boys debate the limits with me. While I believe that letting kids feel heard is important, I also see how well our kids behave when they are with my husband.
My husband and I complement each other as parents. We work as a team. We play off one another. We give each other perspective when we’re struggling. I can’t imagine anyone else I would rather be my partner in this adventure called parenthood.
Yes, dads may do things differently. Any two parents will do things differently! But there is beauty in the differences and what we can learn from each other.
Happy Father’s Day this weekend, to my husband and all of the amazing fathers out there!
ABOUT ELLIE: Ellie is the Editor of the Family Room at BonBon Break and blogs at Musing Momma, where she shares honest and personal stories ranging from reflections on motherhood to tips for raising healthy and (relatively) well-behaved kids, and from research on child development to fun family activities. As wife and mother in a multiracial family, she often writes about the intersection of race and family, and her experience raising two African-American/white sons. Ellie has a Ph.D. in psychology and counseled children and families for several years before changing paths to spend more time with her family. She resides in central Pennsylvania with her husband and their two adorably mischievous boys, ages 4 and 7.
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