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Making Room for Daddy
Mom with a View

Making Room for Daddy

Most fathers want to be involved. Don’t sabotage their efforts.

by

I get a little nervous when readers ask questions like “How much time should a mom expect her husband to spend with her family?” It suggests that some marital discord on this topic is already present.

There are no hard and fast rules but there are certainly attitudes that can encourage or discourage involvement.

I noticed the wording of the question – “her family” – aren’t these his kids too? Certainly if he’s treated like it’s her family, he’ll be less inclined to participate. I hear too many women lament the incompetence of their husbands, express reluctance to leave him in charge of the kids or outright criticize their spouse’s parenting abilities. These are surefire strategies for ensuring that you will parent alone.

I watch, horrified, as women completely leave their husbands out of the equation, operating under the belief that they are just better at it – and then go to express resentment over their levels of exhaustion and stress.

Most fathers that I know want desperately to be involved. They want to play with their children, take them to school, participate in activities, feed them, read them bedtime stories and are even willing to change their diapers (I can’t honestly say they want to do this but who does?).

Husbands just need to be given the chance. And then not attacked for the way they did it.

They just need to be given the chance. And then not attacked for the way they did it. It doesn’t really matter if the shirt is on backwards or the socks don’t match or there’s an extra treat in the lunches.

If we infantilize our husbands (please save me from women who refer to their spouses as one of their children!), they will respond accordingly. All of us live up – or down – to expectations.

On the other hand, constant praise will work wonders. Telling your husband what a terrific father he is, how much the kids enjoy going to the park with him or how much you appreciate either the break or the family time will likely lead to more of the same.

Another determinative factor will be the family’s financial needs. A desire for material abundance places pressure on men (and women too but that’s not our focus here) to work harder in order to earn enough to satisfy the family’s needs and desires. The obvious consequence is that he will be around less. My children have a friend whose family is quite well-off. The unfortunate price is that her father travels quiet frequently and is often only home one weekend a month. We asked our kids which they would prefer…we don’t want to share their answer!

In a marriage where child-raising is considered a clear priority by both parents (and I think that’s most of our marriages today), fathers usually want to be very involved, and if anything, may too often feel excluded by the mother’s attitude.

However, a wife and mother who recognizes both her husband’s needs and children’s needs will work to make her husband an integral part of everyone’s lives – right from the start; sharing not just the frustrations but the joys as well.

In this situation the mother won’t have to worry about her expectations of her husband’s time with the family. They will be well-met.

Published: January 2, 2010


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Visitor Comments: 9

(9) Naty, January 31, 2014 11:26 PM

My son's father is awesome

Our Gideon just turned three and his father has never had to be begged or pleaded with to change a diaper, feed him, or just play with him. My husband will even tell me to go have a cup of coffee with my girlfriends and relax. Sam isn't this macho guy that is afraid to hug his son and tell him he loves him. In a nut shell Gideon and I are blessed to have Sam in our lives. P.S. we've been happily married for 23 years.

(8) Eric, January 6, 2010 5:34 PM

No room for daddy...

How true, nr. 2. Have been divorced 2 years now and see my two girls, 6 & 4, every other weekend. 5 days ago, our youngest daughter was flown to an out-of-town hospital with 2nd and 3rd burns from fireworks on her stomach, chest and thighs. Praise GOD she is getting better. We live only 15km apart, yet her family only informed after closer to 24 hours. My ex refuses to let me care for our eldest, but has sent her to her parents, even though this little girl has asked to go live with daddy while mommy away. I feel rotten, out in the cold and long to care for our eldest for now. I did go to the hospital for 3 days to visit my darling, however. (hopefully I'll make it back next week) My ex told her: 'Eric is here and has come to visit you.' She wants our girls to call her new boyfriend 'daddy'... Talk about no room for daddy...

(7) Aliza G, January 5, 2010 11:54 PM

Confused?

Maybe it IS "her" family she is talking about - her relatives as opposed to the wife's and the husband's children. That's what I took it to mean.

(6) Steve, January 5, 2010 8:55 PM

From a Father's side

When my son was born I had not wanted him, the instant I held him my view and heart changed totally. Since him I have had two girls born, my eldest daughter died when she was 6 months old, the grief almost devasted me. I treasure the two children left even more now and I had not thought that was possible. My wife on the other hand left us a year after the youngest was born, she gave up custody without a comment or a care and never looked back. After she left the children's and my attitude, outlook and energy increased; it was as if a dark cloud had lifted from the family. Through this I have learned that not all people want nor need to be parents and those that are parents are not necessaily good parents. Over the last 33 years I have included my ex in every family gathering and in each child's life to whatever degree she has wished to be involved; sadly it has been minimal. Yet they know and have affection for her which I feel was and is vital for them all, mother and children. But I am glad now, that she left when she did, things could have turned far worse for us all if she had stayed. Knowing what I know now I would not marry her today, yet...if I had not, I would have missed out on the two great children I have today. It balanced out in the long run.

(5) z, January 5, 2010 8:41 PM

so right Marcie

While i was on a date with the 1st guy I went out with, a little boy came up to where we were sitting & my date gave him a cute smile & waved! Though I am not married to him, I remember mentally giving him a big check for that, since good father material was very important to me.

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