Motherhood has been completely usurping parenting discussions since the beginning of time. Step aside lady, there is another human we need to talk about- THE FATHER. It still takes a village to raise a child you know, of all the adults therein, two are very important (yes two, not just one)- you and the FATHER!
Welcome to modern day parenting. Every parent, regardless of gender has a big role to play in raising the child. Moms and Dads should share and work as a team to parent their child.
What side of this story have we already heard. The one where the onus of childcare is left upon the Mom. The one where the mother has been wrongfully over-burdened by societal pressures, the excuse of ‘our culture’, ‘humarey yahaan aise (nahi) hota hai’ and stigma. But there is more to it.
Apart from the external factors, some introspection of our mommyness is also important. Time to ask: How do mothers view the parenting skills of the father? Do we know why fathers can not do as much as women? How do we help dads rise to the occasion?
Dad-skills are the most meme-fied parts of parenting ever. (Some of them are truly hilarious) But hey! how did you feel when your parenting skills were doubted and questioned? What did you want the most when you were taking your baby steps into motherhood? Come, you know this one go ahead say it…. that is right … empathy, motivation and appreciation (did you say- vodka and coffee? i hear you mate!)
How many mommas out there feel that the dads cannot do some bit of parenting as well as us? Many, including me. We have been doing these baby tasks so frequently and systematically; we just feel no one else can do it as well as us. He cannot hold the child as safely as you. He cannot comfort the baby like you, he will not do a good job of applying the barrier cream while diapering, she will definitely fuss if he feeds, there is noway she is going to sleep on his shoulder…..and so on.
I will acknowledge the fact that a lot of parenting gyaan, could be with the mother. You know why? there is far more literature available on mommying than on daddying. Also, your child is biologically more dependent on the mum – for food and nutrition. There are certain natural elements that fall into place for the moms. Besides, there will always be a lot of older moms around you passing their experiences and advice to you. You need to share that with your partner and let him in on the centuries worth of knowledge and wisdom.
WHY DOES HE NOT VOLUNTARILY WANT TO DO IT?– Some guys just become hands on dads, like some women just become moms, natural process. period. Others need to work on it. This is because of what he may have experienced, seen around him or just assumed about it all in general. Accusing him of being an @$$ about it is not going to get you anywhere. You have to take into account the social realities that we are trying to move ahead from.
So, here is the important bit, How do you encourage the partner to share equal parenting responsibilities in the early days?
- Don’t delegate, divide. – instead of feeding the baby yourself and asking your husband to fetch you a face cloth, or bathing the baby and asking your husband to bring you the towel, why not step away from the boss-mom mode and divide the tasks equally. You do the bathing, he does the feeding for example. Often this division happens naturally, but you can also sit and chalk it out.
- It is not my-way or the highway – understand that you both will have different methods of doing the same tasks, you might feel yours is better but do not impose that. Similarly accommodate lapses. The dad is also as well-meaning and concerned as you are. Accidents or mistakes do happen, work together and move on. Switch off from the blame-game.
- Involve dads in a balance of chores, don’t keep all the boring stuff for yourself and leave him in charge of stuff like playtime and fun outings. Share the load.
- Actively promote alone-time. The father-child bond is very special. Leave them alone from time to time to build that bond, which will make all the above points much more enjoyable. But also be alone, together and get some couple time to de-stress. (Your marriage and love for each other does not have to be shelved just because you are a parent.)
- Communicate. Nobody is a mindreader!! He is not going to know that you are having a tough momma day, until you open your mouth and say so. You might feel that he should know, but with all that is going on, you guys might not necessarily be on the same page. So, use words and do not forget your pleases and thank yous. You would want your child to say them too after all, isn’t it?
Equal parenting is tough! but it is definitely better than killing yourself slowly with the mommy grind. You will be surprised by how much you are actually missing out unknowingly because you are so busy getting the behind-the-scenes stuff done.
Don’t get me wrong, all moms are superwomen who are irreplaceable. Dads are uber-cool too, no matter what form of parenting works for you. But try this!!
We are toddler parents, this is from our experience and some research to articulate what worked for us. If you want to do some more reading. Click on these articles:-