We all know that children have two parents. That’s obvious. So when you are parenting, ideally you want things to be split equally between the two of you. For a number of reasons though (that I’m not here to debate) it tends to be the mums that do the bulk of the work.
This can lead a lot of us to utter in exasperation the phrase “They’re your child too!”.
There is the obvious meaning behind this that we will all be familiar with but it can be useful to consider the phrase in other ways as well.
Here are three ways in which you can use the phrase to help you both be better parents.
#1 – It means that dad’s have a responsibility to look after their children too
As I mentioned, this one is really obvious. It takes two to tango as they say and most likely, both of you were involved with the decision to become parents. This means both of you accepted the responsibility of having a child to care for. With everything that entails.
Without getting into a debate about this, it’s far too common that mums do the majority of the work both looking after children and around the house. Yes, dad’s might be out working but this doesn’t negate their responsibilities as a parent when they get home.
It’s really important that dad’s do their fair share of kiddy duties. Not only does it give them a chance to build a strong relationships with their kids but it also gives their partners a much needed break. Plus it will significantly reduce any resentment in the relationship that occurs when things aren’t equal.
#2 – It means dad’s have a right to parent however they want to
This one can be a little hard for mum’s to swallow but I’m afraid you just need to accept this one. Dad’s have the right to parent differently to the way you do. Let’s be clear – I don’t mean anything that is unsafe or isn’t in your childs best interests. I just mean that they might have different ideas on how to raise kids and that’s OK.
As mum’s we tend to develop daily routines or habits. We also find the ways that work for us and have preferences on how we want things done.
Sometimes though we need to let that go and allow dad’s to parent how they want to.
Perhaps it’s doing the bath in the morning. Or letting them have dessert with breakfast. Maybe it’s allowing them to build pillow forts just before bed.
But that’s ok. He has a right to parent how he wants to and to be allowed to do that by you. After all, you would probably be annoyed or upset if your partner criticised how you parent so it’s not fair to do it to him.
The key here is to always ask yourself – does it really matter if he does it differently? If he’s happy, kids are happy and you aren’t left to pick up the pieces after then chances are no. It doesn’t.
#3 – It means dad’s are as important as mum’s are
We all want to be important to our children and as mum’s we are. But we need to let go a little of the idea that we are more important than dad’s are. Yes we might be around more but that doesn’t make us a superior parent. We don’t outrank dad’s and thinking we are better than them can be damaging for our relationship (read more about why we should stop the competition between parents).
You might think that you are the only one who can console your child but actually, given a chance, your partner can probably do it too. In fact, the more you allow your partner to parent the more likely they are to be just as good at it as you are.
You might also want to think that everything will go wrong when you’re not there but it probably won’t. Or that your partner can’t cope without you around but they probably can.
And isn’t that freeing??? Isn’t the idea that your partner and kids are perfectly able to manage without you a relief? Because if you accept that then you will be able to have time to yourself. Time for self care or the things that you want to do. If you let go of the worry that you are the only one who can look after your child then you suddenly gift yourself with the freedom to be able to relax and focus on you for a change. How great is that!
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