Let Dad Be Dad
by Julie Barnhill
If I could turn back time, I’d rethink gauchos (go ahead and Google it), do-it-yourself dermabrasion kits and thinking I was all that and a bag of Mom Chips when it came to parenting my three children.
You see, all three scenarios created, at the time, a rather unsightly mess. Gauchos were never intended to be worn by a high school girl whose height equaled her width. The delicate layer of one’s facial epidermis was never meant to be sandblasted by a fearful woman whispering, “I see crow’s feet.” And parenting children, especially when done so in conjunction with one’s spouse, was never supposed to resemble “Throwdown! with Bobby Flay,” the Food Network celebrity chef.
But that’s exactly what I created, especially during the toddler/preschool stage of Kristen’s, Ricky’s and Patrick’s development. I made parenting a competitive sport. I was guilty of holding far too tightly (picture the vise-like grip your preschooler holds on to a favorite toy) to the macro and micro details of raising our children.
Truth is, I was guilty of leaving very little room for daddy to be daddy, if I ever allowed him room at all. Far too often I believed that I was the only one who knew how to do things right. And what’s worse, I just didn’t understand or fully grasp the importance of his presence and differing parenting style in the lives of our children. With those confessions in mind, I offer some tried-and-true facts and tips to help steer you clear of these shortsighted and not-so-uncommon misjudgments in mothering.
Always Remember …
Fact: The love your children’s father gives your kids is just as important to their development as your love.
Tip: Repeat after me (especially when considering an overnight trip with girlfriends or when other responsibilities call you away from home): “My husband is perfectly capable of feeding his children (do not say, ‘my children,’ they are ‘his’ too), bathing his children, protecting his children (ooh, I know that one hurts) and nurturing his children.” Repeat as needed.
Fact: YOU are a key ingredient in encouraging your kids’ father to participate in their lives. Not only participate, but also to do so with utmost confidence! Speak words that will encourage him.
Tip: Remove your hands from the hovercraft controls! Allow your husband time and space to be dad. Give the man room to breathe … to figure out his “daddy style” and, most of all, room to make mistakes. Gasp!
Fact: Biblical wisdom states that, “A three-fold cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, ESV) No matter how well you mother or your husband fathers, it will never be enough. Babies will wear you out (as will preschoolers, pre-teens and teenagers)! Always remember to let yourself lean on God, whose strength is bigger than the fiercest of thunderstorms and vaster than the ocean.
One Bold Mother to three children and author of 12 books, including the Every Mother Can series and Raising Kids with Love and Limits, both available at MOPShop.org. She is a popular national and international speaker.