Imagine a group of moms getting together for a movie night to indulge in sweets and conversation afterward. They talk about moments from the film that stood out to them as mothers, like the constant inward pressure of wanting to make everything in their families and homes perfect. They don’t want to ask for help but feel helpless simultaneously.
One mom tells the group about a disagreement with her husband early in their marriage when she felt tired from trying to be super mom and asked for his help around the house, like cleaning the bathroom. He said we would help, but she’s better at everything than he is. He also brought up the fact that he helps with their child.
The mom told her husband that babysitters help, but dads care for their children. The other friends laughed and agreed because they were all too familiar with the story. However, one friend’s face got more serious, adding that she couldn’t get her husband to help with anything. She said she made the mistake of constantly telling her husband that he wasn’t doing something right when he tried to help, so he stopped helping.
Her confession got the attention of the other moms because they’ve all been there. Many moms live in their real-world version of Father Knows Best, but in most cases, it’s Mom Knows Best, and there’s not always a lot of wiggle room for dads. Do you find yourself constantly correcting or teasing your husband for making a mistake with the kids? What about talking badly about him in front of the children?
If you said yes to any of those, you’re not the first mom to do so. One reason many couples fight early in their marriage is that wives grow accustomed to having everything done their way, and so do their husbands. Husbands typically keep the peace by letting the wives handle everything and keeping the peace. Then, when you do ask for help, the husbands want their wives to make up their minds.
Wives do their kids, husbands, and themselves an injustice when they don’t let dads parent the way God created them to parent. Despite society’s attempts to convince us otherwise, there are emotional, genetic, and other differences between women and men, moms and dads, and those are healthy differences. You bless your children with the best parts of each parent when we embrace those changes and refuse to see them as threats to our contributions as parents.
So what would it look like if you supported your husband in his role as a father instead of managing him? Here are some ways to support and encourage your husband as a father.
Be his cheerleader, not his manager.
Sometimes, it’s simple to include your husband with the kids, giving them orders when they get home from work and telling them what we need from them instead of asking for their help. Dads may admit they’re unsure what their kids need from them, but they still want time to figure it out. When you notice him being a great dad, compliment him and be willing to hold or fix your words when you’re tempted to point out his mistakes.
Make spending time with the kids easy for him.
Our husbands typically miss that their kids need dad time, primarily if they work a lot or travel for their jobs and are away as children get older. Teenagers might not raise their hands screaming for their fathers like younger children when dad gets home, but they still need that one-on-one time with dad. Occasionally offer suggestions for activities he can do with the kids and let him know it’s okay if he doesn’t get to a household task you asked him to do if it means he’s getting some time with his children.
Support him when disciplining the children.
This task can be challenging, especially if your husband is harder on the kids than you are regarding correcting for something wrong. Still, support him, and if you disagree, wait for the right time to discuss it with him later when you’re alone. The quickest way for a child to lose respect for their parent is when the other parent’s words or actions indicate that parents’ authority doesn’t matter as much. If you’re tired of hearing your husband tell the kids to ask Mom, then he should know you’ll back up what he says, the same way he would support you if the tables were turned.
Compliment him in front of the kids.
Tell your kids what you love about their father and highlight the good things he does for them and the family. You’re helping encourage and nurture a meaningful relationship.
Give him ways to be there for the kids.
Dads don’t always have a natural sense of what to do with their kids, especially when they’re little and don’t do much outside of eating and sleeping. If your husband seems unsure of what to do, give him some ideas, like taking them out for ice cream or encouraging family time by walking around the neighborhood after dinner. However, don’t give up on him if he messes more than maneuvering with ease at first. He needs to know that his calling as a parent is just as important and necessary as yours.
Many people will cruelly or thoughtlessly try to demoralize, discourage, or destroy your husband. Husbands don’t like wives who constantly nag or remind them of their failings. Instead of using disheartening words, let the Lord work your husband’s rough edges. At the same time, try to focus on kindness, understanding, and expressing helping words that build him up. Children tend to mimic their parent’s behavior, so the more they see you respecting their father, the more they’ll appreciate him and enjoy their time with him.