This Father’s Day, the gift I’m giving Daddy-o is the reminder that I will try very hard not to be any of the archetypes I described a few years and a few kids ago. Any of these sound familiar?
1. The Critic: You know when dad is bathing the newborn and you think the water is the wrong temperature and that he picked the wrong towel? And you know how you keep correcting him while he’s bathing the baby? This is the pattern that emerges:
- Dad attempts to interact with and care for baby
- Mom disapproves and ‘helps’ by providing suggestions/criticism
- Dad loses confidence and is reluctant to care for baby
- Mom gets frustrated and resents dad for not pulling his weight.
Mama has now created her own monster. Dad was made to feel useless and that is exactly what he has become. I cured myself of this pitfall by setting boundaries, only commenting if Daddy-o’s choices were going to affect baby’s health or safety. Before I speak, I constantly ask myself “Does it really matter?”
2. The Nag: What differentiates The Nag from The Critic is her tone of voice. We know she can be polite and respectful because we hear how she talks to her friends and family. However, when a question or favour is directed at her husband, the tone changes and all “pleases” and “thank yous” are completely abandoned. It’s easy for tired mamas to fall into the habit of barking orders at dad. If this defines you, time to re-shape how you are communicating before your kids start using the same tone with you.
3. The Scorekeeper: This is the mama who thinks diapers should be changed according to whose turn it is. If her husband is going out with friends on Friday night, well, she is going to spend all day Saturday at the gym or shopping. After all, that’s only fair! This is a pattern I desperately try to avoid. I feel like children will interpret this scorekeeping as one parent getting “stuck” spending time with them.
4. The Complainer: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a rant with your girlfriends, but The Complainer takes it to a different level. She can self-identify by asking herself if every conversation includes the very common mama complaint “I’m tired”. Being tired is what we signed up for and it is exclusive to no one. I have never found that saying “I’m tired” leads to more sleep. A sub-category is The Competitive Complainer. This describes the person who, if hearing her husband had a rough day at work, claims she had a rougher day at home. If her husband had a rough day with the kids, she had a rougher day at work. Whatever is going wrong in anyone’s life, hers is worse. Yes, boring. Don’t be this person.
Do you see a little bit of yourself here? If so, I suggest you give the Daddy-o in your family the same gift I’m giving. Making them feel good about being dads is worth a lot more than even a new set of golf clubs.