How to get out of Dad’s way (and let him be the awesome parent he is)

Mr. Curry with his daughter Ever; courtesy of Maggie May at Flux Capacitor

As Father’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about our discussion about helping dads become more involved fathers, while also rolling my eyes at plenty of the commercials on TV. Hasn’t the picture of Dad as an inept, clueless, beer-swigging “man cave” dweller gotten old yet?

Maybe not in advertising, but in my world, definitely.

The fathers I know are eager to step up. My husband wrangles babies, toddlers and big kids with skill. One of my brothers stays at home with his three kids…and does a darn good job of it. My other brother helps homeschool his kids in between working a day job and running the lights and soundboard at their community theater productions.

Perhaps that’s why the recent kerfuffle over “extreme” motherhood, attachment parenting, The Conflict and parenting inequality annoyed me so much. My two sisters-in-law and I have all been, to varying degrees, nursing, babywearing, attachment-oriented moms. But it was precisely because we have supportive spouses who are also nurturing fathers that we were able to do it without putting ourselves last, and in the cases of myself and my SIL Jenna, without placing our careers on hold indefinitely. (My sister-in-law Kelley is purposely – and happily – at home.)

I don’t like it when the media pits moms against each other. But I also don’t like it when mothers are pitted against fathers. It’s not helpful, it’s not productive, and in my world, it’s just not accurate.

Still, I know that it’s not always easy to navigate an equitable parenting split. We struggle with a lot of internal messages about motherhood and the need to “prove” ourselves as parents, which often can mean that Dad gets elbowed off stage left.

In other words, I believe it’s generally not that fathers don’t want to be involved. It’s the current culture of motherhood – and our own expectations of them and ourselves – that gets in the way.

In my latest Babble post, I detailed 7 ways I’ve learned to get out of Dad’s way, from “Avert Your Eyes” to “Get Over Yourself.” From the post:

These days there’s a lot of discussion in the media about the unfair division of household labor. And a lot of moms I know sigh over the fact that their spouses and partners don’t seem to carry their full weight when it comes to taking care of the kids.

Of course, a lot of those same moms are the ones who butt into every baby-related decision Dad makes and who find him incapable of changing a diaper correctly.

I know, because I’ve been one of those mothers, with disappointing results. And after fourteen years of motherhood, during which my husband and I have come to a nearly fifty-fifty parenting split, I’ve come to realize: Ladies, often the problem is us.

Please read the rest – and then let us know: which of these seven actions is hardest for you? Have you noticed any results when you started doing one or two things on my list?

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