The title sounds like new age pseudo-science, doesn’t it? Sure, it’s a little pie-in-the-sky, but when it comes down to it, sometimes your parenting experience is all about what you expect. If you look at a lot of ‘mom-media,’ you’ll see a vicious cycle–the snarky expectation that our male counterparts just won’t get it followed by the diatribes when they prove us right.
Life as a parent is tough, of course. Many moms feel like they bear the brunt of the transition as the primary caregiver, but the cliché of the clueless husband or partner is continued in some cases because we create an atmosphere where all they can do is fail.
If ‘mommy knows best,’ then daddy is bound to come in second. I don’t know about you but second place isn’t where most people want to stay for long. Sure, there are some things that a mom can naturally do better (breastfeeding comes to mind but there are those pygmy tribes. . .), but in most cases, if you need help and your partner is physically able to do so, you could, I don’t know, let him instead of moaning about your plight without actually asking for help.
Communicating your expectations for what you want the parenting balance to look and feel like is a great first step to manifesting the family life you want. For me, asking my husband to read On Becoming Babywise (put the pitchforks down, it’s just a book) was pivotal. Although I did most of the new parent research, he was willing to read it just so we had the same source of information. In fact, he read it, via audiobook, three times by the time our baby was born. When I was having trouble getting our daughter to latch and crying in the lactation consultant’s office, he was there, referencing the book, helping to position the baby and running to get nipple shields. The lactation consultant remarked at how involved he was and she was right. I think in large part, he was because he felt empowered to be involved. He owned fatherhood.
Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t had my ‘my way or the highway’ moments. They happen – but more often, when I’m overwhelmed or just need a break, he’s willing to lend a hand and take the starting position so I can be second string. We can’t as a society say ‘it’s not babysitting when it’s your own kids’ if we treat our partner with the same distrust as we would a babysitter.
We all need to vent sometimes, and our mom-media outlets are a great way to do that. But instead of just venting, perhaps we can start creating a more actionable dialogue, as well. Instead of ‘he just doesn’t get it’ or ‘he didn’t do it right,’ we can start saying ‘he doesn’t get it but we had a laugh when I showed him what it was like.’ Instead of being the CEO of the parenting partnership, we should be a co-op. After all, you can’t have support without being willing to lean on someone. Shouldn’t your partner be that person? Give him a chance.