Having store-bought bread doesn’t make my husband appreciate homemade bread more. Having *homemade* bread makes him appreciate homemade bread more.
I was just giving someone advice today about not making Daddy’s time alone with the kids a negative thing, and it got me thinking.
There seems to be a school of thought that Mom should leave the kids with Dad whenever she feels like it, and if things fall apart or are really hard for the guy, that somehow this will make him appreciate her more, because he will now “identify” with what she (as a mom) goes through. These invisibles also imply the father will or should subject himself to this repeatedly.
Apparently this is a way to “prove” his love to you and/or his offspring.
I think this is incredibly unfair.
For one thing, most dads don’t have that presence like a mother’s that can near-instantly calm a child. Do you ever wonder why Dad’s always passing the kid back to Mom? Because it *works* that’s why!
So, anything Dad’s doing, especially with very young children, will be harder for him than for Mom. Also, unless he’s a SAHD, there’s no way he’ll have internalized preferences and schedules like the Mom, has. This is another strike against him.
It’s still fine to leave him alone in charge of the kids, it is still good for him, and for Mom, but for it all to go well (and happen again with minimum resistance) a little planning should be involved:
(ETA: Understandably, I hope, this is written from the perspective of a mother with young children, e.g., Me.)
- Until a routine is in place, Mom should never leave without the parents discussing expectations.
- Will the kids be in bed when she gets home?
- Is there some item of housework you need him to do while you’re gone? (Is it a fair expectation?)
- Are there snacks/treats the children’s misbehavior has lost them? Let Dad know.
- Are you really concerned about nutrition for this one meal? Make it yourself, or don’t complain– it may not be his calling to think about every bite of food.
- Set him up for success
- Don’t leave right before nap time
- Don’t stay out longer if you know baby will be hungry and resist the bottle
- Make sure he knows what the essential book/movie/song of the hour is
- and that he’ll recognize the child’s request for it
- Help him brainstorm ideas of what to do while you’re gone
- Dads aren’t stupid, but they know there’s probably things they shouldn’t do, and like most adults he’d rather do nothing than look foolish.
- Once he has some experience and some parameters to work within he’ll start coming up with his own ideas. Encourage this.
- Don’t be critical or call his ideas unoriginal. The kids will tell him that if they think so, but the young ones especially will be so glad to have Daddy they won’t care what they’re doing.
- Be flexible
- Especially when the kids are little, train yourself to make the most of short outings.
- Carry your cell-phone and be willing to come home early
- This can sometimes make the difference between staying home and getting out peaceably.
- There will always be next time (perhaps more likely to be a next time since your husband knows you’re trustworthy.)
I think that time alone with the children can make him appreciate you, but let it be an appreciation of understanding rather than reinforcing the idea that he’s not ____ enough to take care of the children, or (even worse) that he doesn’t want to be around them
One of a mom’s jobs (I believe) is to be an ambassador between her husband and their children. Giving them opportunities to interact, and investing planning for those times to succeed can be a very effective strategy.