I remember when my husband came back from his first father/son day with our 2 year old. He proudly announced that they'd been to McDonalds. I gasped! The horror! Surely that unwritten rule was blindingly obvious! It was then that I realised we were merging cultures. I couldn't produce another me (wouldn't want to), but that meant compromise. ew! It was hard to give him space and let him parent in ways that so jarred with mine, but I'm so glad I did....I'm off next week to Bangkok to give our second eldest child a hug to last a year....she's been offered a place to study in Australia! Ouch. So dad's in charge for the week!
We want Dads to be loving, attentive, wise and hands on, but it's all too easy to edge them out. A little bit of perfectionism can easily get in the way....
He doesn't dress them in the right clothes does he?
He's a bit relaxed about the details!
As they get older...
He rough and tumbles with them when you're trying to calm them towards bed time.
He lets them get away with things that feel important values to you.
He feeds them the wrong food, too much of this and too little of that.
Your child isn’t looking for perfection, they’re look for affection.
So often I meet couples where the dad has retreated - he's got it wrong one too many times. He starts to step back, but that's not received well either. Distance creeps in.
How do we avoid that?
Let him go wrong.
Spot what (you think) he's got right and encourage him.
Tell him you appreciate his help.
It might be easier to do it yourself at first, but that's not the point. He's learning too. Let him learn by his mistakes. You did: The first few times you helped your mother bake a cake you probably weren't much real help. But now if you can throw a cake together it's only because you went through the trial period.
Our perspective is only a perspective, no matter how well researched it is. It's better to collude with him, find your way together. Confidence comes from having the freedom to try without being shamed!
Your children can bring you together if Dads are given the space to play their part. Your children probably won't suffer measurably from his mistakes (any more than they will from yours). He's building relationship.
I know when I go away next week they wont get home made stews and they'll go to bed too late, but I also know that they'll bank some more memories, cuddle up in front of movies that I wouldn't have the patience for....and at least I won't have to watch the little one with the electric drill as they do some DIY! Wince!