Moms, Give the Father of Your Kids the Appreciation They Deserve
Five ways to appreciate your husband’s role as father of the house.
My colleague was the first one to point out to me that the authors of The Berenstain Bear series portray Papa Bear in a negative light. Only Mama Bear knows any of the right answers, how to raise kids and how to keep her cool. "Papa Bear," she said, "is portrayed as a bumbling idiot."
I had never thought about that before but when I read the books to my kids, (my kids loved them!) I started to notice what she was talking about.
It’s not only The Berenstain Bears. Emasculating men and making jokes about dads seems to be a pervasive theme in today’s cultural climate. And when women get together, how long does it take before we bad mouth the men in our lives?
This Father's Day is a perfect time to rethink the way we talk to and about the father of our children. Here are five ways to start appreciating our husband’s role as father of the house.
1. Fathers are important:
It’s sad that that I even have to point this out, but dad’s are essential. Studies have shown that kids with nurturing, playful fathers have higher IQ's and do well in school. Having a father figure to look up to helps kids handle the stresses and frustrations of school with equanimity, so they have less behavior issues. They are also less likely to get in trouble outside of school and are generally more sociable and popular.
Children also need to see their mother’s respect and appreciation for their father. It helps them feel secure and loved when both parents care for each other. Both mothers and fathers are responsible for maintaining a good and positive relationship with each other.
Women are not the only ones who need appreciation. Men do not want to be overlooked; they also need to be given recognition for all that they do.
2. Roughhousing is good:
I know, I know, this is hard for us women to understand, but it is true. I have watched (with gritted teeth) as my husband threw our delighted babies in the air, spun them around, and gave them horseback and piggyback rides until they were both exhausted. As they got older, there was some wrestling as well.
I used to get upset but then I found out that research has shown this to be beneficial. Roughhousing teaches kids how to deal with aggression without losing control of their emotions. It often gives boys the additional sensory input they may need in a safe way. It also helps boys expend their extra energy with a trusted adult.
3. Fostering independence:
Fathers play an integral role in teaching kids to be independent and to learn life skills. A dad pushing his kids to do things on their own encourages risk-taking and gives children the confidence to get out into the world. Dads are often better at stressing rules, laying down the law and enforcing discipline, giving kids a good sense of justice, knowing right from wrong. This helps children feel secure so that they feel comfortable standing up for what they believe in. Children who are close with their fathers are less susceptible to peer pressure, are able to set attainable goals for themselves and are less likely to enter an abusive relationship.
4. You can show him new parenting skills:
Moms can sometimes get frustrated with their husbands’ parenting skills. If you want to incorporate some new parenting policies in your house it’s best if you adopt them yourself first. Role modeling a better way to deal with your kids can make a big impression.
You can also speak to your spouse in private about a specific parenting issue you might have. Try not to be pushy and ask for his opinion:
"I know we have been having this issue with Mikey and not doing his homework. Do you think we should try talking to his teacher? Do you think we should help him more with his homework? I heard that if we praise him specifically for the work that he does well that can help him. Does that sound right to you?"
It might sound phony but it is more respectful. I have learned that my husband is very receptive to my ideas if I let him have his say, sincerely, without an ulterior motive and agenda. I have also discovered that we need a guy's opinion. They love their kids too and have some great ideas on what works. We just need to really listen to what they have to say. (And of course, this works both ways!)
5. Avoid criticism:
There is nothing more annoying to a man than to have his wife criticize or a nag him, even if it might be about something valid, like his parenting skills. Plus, if you criticize your husband's parenting skills in front of your kids, that can be misconstrued as disrespect. Kids can pick up on this as well.
Unless there is outright physical and verbal abuse, you need to support your husband's decisions and parenting, even if you might not agree with his tactics. Kids feel more secure when their parents act as a team.