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I don’t think we show dads enough love here in the blogosphere so this month I’m dedicating my blog to the guys. Every week in June, I’ll dish out my very best advice for mothers and fathers on how to be a great dad and how to be a mom who supports a guy to be a great dad.
Here’s my #1 piece of advice for moms who want their partner to be a good dad:
That’s right, step back. Get out of Dad’s way and don’t tell him how to do his job. His job is not to parent like you, but to parent like himself. It’s not to be as good as Mom, but to be a great father, to learn how to care for and raise his child to the best of his ability (not the best of your ability).
How does he do that? Just like mothers, fathers learn by experience, trial and error. Over time, dads figure out what works and what feels right and they gain confidence. This gives children the opportunity to learn from day one that Dad’s way is good too and they can trust that he knows how to take care of them. By having more than one loving adult take care of them on a regular basis, children learn flexibility, resilience, trust and that love, security and caretaking can be expected.
For many women, stepping back is easier said than done. When you tell them, “Just let him be a dad. Let him do things his way,” their instant response is, “He’d never know how to care for the baby unless I told him exactly what to do.” My response is, “unless your baby’s father is a jerk or an idiot (and most fathers are neither), he can figure it out. Give him the space to be himself and his own version of “Dad,” not your version of what it means to be a dad.
So many women make this mistake and it comes back to shoot them in the foot in terms of being overburdened down the road with carrying more than their share of the family load. It all starts when they figure they know best how their guy should father because they’ve read the books and know how to mother and they figure they’ve got the upper hand when it comes to all things concerning the children. Fatherhood isn’t just a guy version of motherhood though. It’s a separate and equal entity even though many of the activities and responsibilities are gender neutral and 100% the same for motherhood and fatherhood.