Get With The Program Dad! How To Get Him More Involved
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There is no doubt about it. Men are now taking on more home duties and childcare than their own fathers. But from speaking to women and listening to the conversations of my friends, it seems to me that women are still complaining about the same old things they have been for years, even though many would agree there has been a slight shift.
But while I believe women can say we want men to do more housework and interact more with the kids, at the same time we are jumping on them when they do it differently. You folded it wrong, hung it wrong, said that the wrong way, your discipline was too tough, too soft, you’re playing at an inconvenient time! Comments such as these chase dads away and give them a defeated attitude when it comes to doing that task again and feeling anything but wanting to get more involved. Women can have fixed ideas on how they want the children raised and are full steam ahead with their plan. Anyone who gets in their way will feel their wrath if they don’t quickly get with the program!
For many dads they can feel a little removed from these plans. I believe this starts because in many cases dad goes off to work and mum stays home with baby when her beliefs and plans are starting to develop. Mum spending more time with the kids as naturally happens in most households, allows us to better get to know our children, becoming more and more experienced with each and every day. We talk to other women about our thoughts and ideas and pull from their pools of knowledge. My husband informs me that when men talk about their children it’s more for talking sake with men seeking no help or advice about their kids as women do.
Many dads such as my husband are happy for their wives to take control of the kids, but this doesn’t mean they don’t want to be involved. To get dads more involved and engaged with the family, I have listed some things for you to consider.
- Ensure you are asking him to do not only mundane tasks, but the fun ones as well. I will often ask hubby to play some Minecraft with the kids. While he wouldn’t choose to do this, he has fun when he does.
- Understand that there may be some things that dad does around the house that you wouldn’t want to do. The rubbish out, mowing the lawn perhaps? Remember that it goes both ways. Accept your requests may be done a different way to how you may have done it. If you rush in and change what he has done, this will chase him away from attempting that task again.
- Ensure you’re telling the kids great things about daddy. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comments like “Daddy is always late”, “Daddy never flushes the toilet”, “I wish daddy would help me more”. Saying great things about daddy encourages a better child father relationship, and also demonstrating by example how a steady partnership works. Better relationship = more engagement.
- Try to allow him to do things his way. Does it matter if the sheets aren’t folded well? Will it change lives if the kids have beans on toast for dinner? No, so don’t go climbing on his back and telling him all about it, just breathe and look the other way if he is doing something differently to how you do it. And while I don’t recommend overpraising, acknowledging that he has helped out is a kind thing to do.
- Ensure you are inviting Dad into the family plans especially when it comes to the kids. Have regular family meetings/conversations where everyone can have their say. This works especially well if you have school aged children and gives dad an opportunity to get involved in decisions that otherwise he may not of been part of.
- Understand that just as we do, our partners have stresses outside of the family unit. The main one that comes to mind is stress related to work. Even though they may not talk as freely about it as we do, they most certainly feel it.
- Understand he is not telepathic. My husband used to say, “If you want me to take out the rubbish, just ask, you don’t have to stomp around the house waiting for me to guess what I’m not doing”. Be specific and ask nicely.
- My kids were getting into the habit of asking Dad for this or that even before he had taken his shoes off when arriving home from work. By telling the kids to give daddy some time to get changed and breathe after the initial hello hug, you show your partner that you respect the fact they have been working all day just like you. Understanding each other’s needs will help to ensure you both get what you require.
- If you have some great ideas on how to keep dad involved in family life, we would love to hear them in the comments below.