Why your husband doesn't spend time with the kids and how to make that change.
Welcome to the one woman show. You feed the kids. You bath the kids. You put the kids to bed. All the while your husband sits there in a parallel universe. You might start to wonder why your husband doesn’t spend time with the kids. You might even wonder when this team of two turned into this powerhouse ofone.
Don’t know what I am talking about? Pat yourself on the back, this article isn’t for you!
For the rest of you, does this sound uncomfortably familiar?
Unfortunately, you are not alone. Women all across the universe feel your pain. This is a common dilemma. So, how do you get out of this horrible parenting pattern? The first step is to understand why your husband doesn’t spend time with the kids.
Here are some possibilities and what you can do about it!
► He’s defined your roles and most of the parenting ones fall under you.
Couples define relationship roles. They might consciously do this as a couple or it may naturally evolve over time. Whichever happened to you – somewhere along the way parenting fell into the “you” basket.
For many families this may make sense. If he has a full-time job and you don’t, chances are you are more available for doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences and play dates. This might make dads feel exonerated from any child-related responsibility.
How to help:
Keep him up-to-date on how appointments, conferences and play dates go. Let him know what is happening so he doesn’t fall too far out of the loop.
Redefine roles. If you feel the parenting roles are too skewed, then have a role makeover. Talk to your husband and let him know your concerns. Establish new roles. What parenting role would you like him to take on?
Pick a parenting responsibility you want him to take over. Should he be the one to tuck the kids into bed from now on? Is he the homework helper? Does he take them to their sports on the weekends?
Finding some parenting tasks that are strictly a “daddy job” can help your husband get more involved and can make your kids feel more connected.
► Your husband doesn’t spend time with the kids because he feels overly criticized.
When husbands don’t take on the daily responsibilities of parenting, they can feel like a substitute teacher. They are bombarded with comments like “Mommy doesn’t do it that way!” And “Honey, why did you let them do that?” All this perceived criticism can put a guy off parenting altogether, especially if they don’t handle failing well.
How to help:
Allow your husband to do it “his” way. There is no one way to do most things. Be flexible and let him get his own parenting beat. Explain to your kids that it is okay if mom and dad do things differently. This will help your kids with flexibility – a skill they will need anyway throughout their lives.
► He’s tired from work.
Many of us come home exhausted from work. If your husband works all day he might not have any more energy to give. If you work all day as well, that might not seem fair.
How to help:
Have a talk with your husband. If you both work, divide the household and parenting duties evenly. Discuss how you are just as tired and would like to define what responsibilities each of you will have moving forward.
If you don’t work you can develop a schedule that works for both of you. At my house, I work Thursdays through Saturdays. During those days, it is my husband’s responsibility to take care of all of the children’s needs.
For the four days I am at home writing – I take care of all the household and parenting responsibilities. It is a good balance and neither of us have any built up resentment about the other not “pulling their weight.”
► The kids won’t open up to him, so he feels like the odd man out.
Often kids develop a closer bond to their moms. Not always, but more often. This can make dads feel less important and devalued. Some men handle this feeling of rejection by becoming more withdrawn and less involved with the kids.
Do your kids always want “mommy to do it!” Do they tell your husband their day was fine, but then vent to you for what might seem like hours?
How to help:
You can create monthly one-on-one days with your kids. Once a month, have your husband take one of your children out on a “dad date.” It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Just an hour or two of one-on-one time with their dad.
Rotate the kids and make sure they all have their time. If you like the idea, have “mom dates” too. Kids love one-on-ones and it will help foster communication and trust in your relationships.
You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
So you were frustrated about how your husband doesn’t spend time with the kids and you were overzealous about some of the ideas I listed above. You then talked to your husband and it all came crashing down.
He didn’t care. He didn’t want to define roles. He didn’t want to do a daddy date. He thinks you are lookingfor problems.
Unfortunately, you can’t force someone to change, as frustrating as that reality may be. If your husband doesn’t want to change, you can’t make him.
At the end of the day, you are only in charge of your relationship with your kids. Yes, you might want your kids to have a good father figure. Yes, you might want your kids to feel close to their dad. But you don’t have the power to make that happen – only he does. You can only offer these suggestions, the rest will have to be up to him.
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