The other day I was in the grocery store and saw a man walking down the aisle with his arm around his daughter. She looked to be about 11 or 12. They were laughing about something, and all I could do was smile as I looked at them. In that one moment, I knew something crucial about their relationship. That man cherishes his child.
It seems that lately we have been inundated with women struggling with toddlers who don’t listen, tantrum, and generally misbehave. I know lots of people trying to figure out the right method of discipline and feeling like they’re fighting a losing battle. Moms everywhere just want to know what will work. There are lots of books out there that talk about discipline. Lots of theories to try, advice to listen to, and still we’re having problems. Why?
The key to discipline is an involved father. I’m not just talking about ensuring that you and your spouse are on the same page with discipline techniques. I’m talking about having a father who is involved BEFORE discipline is needed.
Children are crying out for our attention. It’s easy to get sidetracked with other things – our jobs, the house, our own needs. I’m at home with my kids, all day, every day, and I’m guilty of being sidetracked too. Sometimes, when they are upset, I have to remind myself that all they want is my attention. Even when things seem to be totally off the rails, a little bit of attention and a whole lot of love usually solves the problem instantly.
But where are the men?
The best thing I have done for my children is give them the father they have. The best thing he does for his children is love their mother. And he shows me that love by respecting me in front of them, honouring me by supporting me no matter what, being involved in their care, and giving them 100% of his time and attention when they are awake. He spends time with them, and not just when it’s convenient. He goes out with them. He’s left alone with them. He is just as much the parent of them as I am. When he’s away, the kids miss him desperately. They need that time with him. In general, we’ve had very few discipline issues and I think credit belongs to my husband.
A father’s involvement starts right from the beginning. A partner who is loving and supportive of you during your pregnancy is a good indicator of how you and your child will be treated postnatally. Labour brings out the best, and worst, in dads. If your partner can’t be …well…your partner in labour, chances are he will fail you in daily life as well. We’ve seen it hundreds of times. A woman, coping beautifully with labour, until her husband emotionally checks out. Nothing will derail a labour faster than a woman desperate for a connection with her partner, only to find he isn’t participating and has become emotionally unavailable to her, right when she needs him most. Right after birth, is your husband supporting you with breastfeeding? Is he there for you, in the night, to help you as you both learn the special nuances that are critical to a breastfeeding relationship? Does he know that taking the baby and giving you time to rest is important to building your supply and helping you maintain some sanity? When you’re struggling, does he know who to call for help?
I’m sure some of this seems silly. You’re probably reading this thinking “of course my husband helps me”. If you are so blessed, know that you and your husband are setting a good pattern already for what is to come as your child grows. But what if you’re thinking “what harm is it that I let him sleep through the night? He has to work in the morning”. Sure, I get that argument. But if your husband doesn’t show up for you now, when it’s easy, he isn’t going to show up for your toddler when things get tough.
Men deserve time with their children. They deserve to be trusted by their wives. They deserve to learn their own special relationship with their littles (meaning, it shouldn’t be the same relationship you have with them). They may not always do things “right”, but they’ll always be perfect. Because any dad that spends time with his children making them feel like they are important is doing things perfectly.
With much love,
Posted By Shannon Stark
Category : Blog Posted by Shannon Stark on December 6, 2011