Does your husband think that you see him as a good dad?
Father’s day is coming up,
Dads have a hard time proving themselves sometimes. We’ve been so trained to believe that women are the parent, and the dad’s job is to go to work and then be a glorified babysitter whenever mom needs a break or she’ll go insane. That doesn’t exactly lend itself to a parenting style where each parent is seen to be capable of taking care of the kids. So dads, even if they want to be super involved with their kids, often feel unequipped.
Now, some dads are just bad fathers. That’s the unfortunate reality. And if that’s the case that you are in, these posts may be better for you:
- Reader Question of the Week: My Husband Isn’t a Good Stepfather
- Forgiving My Dad: Reestablishing a Relationship After Years of Separation
Many dads, though, want to be really involved in their kids’ lives! They want to be super-dad, but aren’t given the opportunity. If that’s the case in your family, or if you have a husband who’s already a super-dad but you want to find new ways to encourage him, here are 7 ways to let your husband know you think he’s a great dad and empower him in his parenting!
1. Trust him with the kids without a mile-long list of instructions
Many dads just want to be able to prove themselves, but they don’t get a chance because their every move is dictated by mom! Now, of course, this is usually done because mom is the one who takes care of them the most in many families, but it can often lead to dad feeling like he’s just a glorified babysitter.
Instead, sometime why not say, “Honey, I need to go grab some hot chocolate with the girls. So you get to take care of the kids for the next few hours–have fun!” and just leave. He knows where the formula is, he knows how to change a diaper, and he knows how to play with his kids. You don’t need to make sure that everything happens your way while you’re gone–it’s OK if time with dad is different! He loves his kids, so trust him with them!
2. Identify places in parenting each of you could teach the other a new skill
Part of encouraging your husband in his fatherhood is to be honest about where your parenting as a couple has its strengths and weaknesses. So figure it out! Where is one area you feel the other excels and could teach you something? Are you really good at emotional conversations, but he’s really good at discipline? Are you really good at organizing the kids and the family, but he’s great at just letting loose and having fun? Talk about where your strengths are, and help each other grow mutually.
3. Retrain your brain if necessary
Our culture has mixed feelings about dads. On the one hand, it loves dads–they’re important, kids do better when they have dads who are involved in the family, and there are so many amazing movies that center around a father’s devotion to his family. But on the other hand, it tends to see fathers as glorified babysitters who are just there to give mom a break every now and then. They’re definitely not seen as equal partners in parenting.
If you struggle with seeing your husband as a parent as much as you see yourself as one, it’s time to retrain your brain. Your husband is just as capable of taking care of your kids as you are! He may not have as much knowledge as you since he hasn’t had the chance to take care of kids as long as you have, but he can learn.
So when you find yourself thinking dismissive thoughts about your husband, stop yourself and correct the thought. For example, instead of thinking, “He’s just helpless. I can’t leave the kids with him for an hour without the house becoming a disaster!” correct yourself and think, “When I leave the kids with him, the house gets messy, but that’s because he’s spent so much time playing with the kids and making memories that he forgets to clean up. We’re working on it, and him spending time with the kids is more important than if the dishes are done immediately, anyway.”
4. Praise him in front of the kids
Many times moms kind of laugh at dad behind his back with their kids–especially older kids or teenagers. Watch how you speak about your husband with your children. It’s one thing to laugh about the funny thing dad said without realizing it, and another to laugh at him in a condescending way.
Call out your husband’s strengths and gifts in front of your kids. Tell him you think he’s a great dad, and give specific examples. “I just love watching you play with your daughter–it’s such a gift to see that our daughter has a daddy who loves to spend time with her and pour into her life.”
5. Brag about him to your parents and in-laws
Wives often call their moms when they need to vent. So, over time, all that your husband’s mother-in-law hears about him is negative! He’s stressing you out, or he can’t do this right, or you can’t believe he doesn’t know how to do that.
As well, it’s easy to get into a habit of clucking with your mother-in-law at family events about how useless the husbands are.
It’s time to change those habits! Instead of complaining about your husband or speaking about him in a patronizing way, tell your mom about some wonderful he did with the kids. Talk to your mother-in-law about how she raised such a great man who wants to be involved in his kids’ lives and truly be their dad. Calling out the good things that your husband does with extended family is an amazing way to encourage him in fatherhood and it changes the family culture, too. Instead of the husbands being seen as a bit like grown-up children, they become equals in the parenting role–and that’s a beautiful thing!
6. Include him in planning big family events
How many times do kids open a present from “mom and dad” and only thank mom, because they know dad had nothing to do with picking it out?
Whether it’s presents or birthday parties or important sports games or competitions, get dad involved! Don’t just micromanage it–give him responsibility with this. Plan the birthday party together and you may find that he has some great ideas that the kids just love. Go shopping for birthday or Christmas presents as a couple and ask him what kinds of presents he got as a kid that he loved. Often dads can start to feel like they’re watching their family from the outside, by bringing him in to these big family events, you’re making sure you don’t leave him on the sidelines.
7. Encourage him to create his own traditions with the kids
Having time as a family is important, but it’s also important that parents have individual time with their children. Encourage your husband to find fun things to do with the kids, even if you think they’re ridiculous. Maybe it’s comic books, maybe it’s Nerf gun battles, maybe it’s throwing a football around. Whatever it is, just let him do his thing.
Wives often find that their husbands have interests they think are kind of silly, or they don’t understand the appeal of them. But kids often love them. So celebrate that your husband and kids can bond over these activities you have absolutely zero interest in, and if they start doing something you find fun, join in with them every now and then!
What do you do to let your husband know you think he’s a great dad? What are some of your best tips? Share them in the comments below!