Getting Dad More Involved with Family!
Do you ever wonder what happened to the man you married? He might look the same on the outside, but emotionally he’s unavailable for you and the kids. He is either at work for extremely long hours only to escape thereafter to the gym, sits on the computer while he’s at home, or goes out all the time with his friends. Many women feel that is what their lives have boiled down to, especially after having kids. Even when the husband is home, chances are he’s exhausted, except, of course, when his mobile phone rings. However, the benefits of strongly bonded families are too important to be ignored. Children need to have both of their parents involved in their lives. For a stronger bonded husband and father, try these strategies:
1. Try to be more like the person he fell in love with
Before you had kids, you probably had fewer responsibilities than you do at the moment, and being together was mostly about having fun. You may not look or feel like that same person, but try to remember it through your engagement or honeymoon memories. What brought you together? What were your common interests? Talk about these subjects rather than about the kids all the time.
2. Don’t set sharp borders on each other’s territories
Traditionally, the wife is more involved in household affairs while the husband is more responsible for working outside the home and being the provider. Many couples set themselves up for discord when they set defensive limits for their own territories. According to Dr. Aly Mokhtar, consultant psychiatrist and director of the Student Counseling Center at the American University in Cairo, “It is very important to realize that there should be a merging of the two territories.”
3. Back off!
Sometimes, moms tend to interfere too often during father-child interactions. Since moms are used to being boss where kids are concerned, they often find it difficult to keep quiet when the father does things differently. “Women should not feel like their domain is being intruded upon when their husbands get involved. If the husband is strongly rebuffed when he gets involved, he will step back,” explains Dr. Mokhtar. “Learn to keep quiet and let them find their own way of dealing with each other. Also, don’t criticize your husband in front of the kids. It is important to realize that he will get involved in his own way, since men are different than women,” he adds.
4. Understand how the male mind works
Expecting him to think the way you do or even understand how you see things is not always realistic. “Men think differently than women,” explains Dr. Mokhtar. “Women should draw on their experiences with other male figures, such as brothers, to grasp how the male mind works.” It is essential to understand how your husband is different from you so that you do not end up hitting your head against a brick wall. This will also help you get a reality check on your expectations from him.
5. Understand his needs and ease the pressure
Your husband needs time to relax from the pressures of work, not to mention his need for breathing space. He is working hard to provide you and the kids with the standard in which you are living. Try to tone down the nagging when he doesn’t get things done the way you want. Don’t compare him to your father, brother-in-law or next door neighbor. He has his own unique way to connect with you and the kids.
6. Make your husband feel important
Has he become a second-class family member since the kids took over your life? Men are like children, they need to feel important. He needs to feel he’s still your prince charming – at least sometimes. Let him know how the kids imitate him and look up to him as their hero. Show him the things that only he can do with them. For example, dad’s way of playing is usually the most fun and generates the loudest laughs.
7. Show him what he’s missing
Turn down the negativity for a while and tell him about all the wonderful things that happened when he wasn’t there. Tell him how he was missed.
8. Gently show him what to do
Remember the sense of confusion you felt when you first became a mom? Many men feel that way about their kids, even when they are older. Chances are his dad was not very involved with him or the rest of his family, so his frame of reference is not ideal. If you feel his displeasing behavior is modeling his father’s, gently bring up the subject and discuss it. “Constructive discussion can evolve the man’s behavior. Think of change as a free-moving compass rather than rigid signposts,” suggests Dr. Mokhtar.
9. Suggest outings that he will enjoy as much as the kids.
If your husband’s work circumstances permit, he can take one of the children to work to see what dad does. If he is a computer game whizz, he might enjoy taking the kids to one of the indoor play areas with lots of computer games. Coffee shop crazies can take the kids to one of the old coffee shops in Khan el Khalili for example.
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