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    Is Your Husband a Hands-On Dad?

    By Kristen Houghton     

    Times and parenting sure have changed; it’s even reflected in the media. I was watching an old film from the forties on one of the classic movie channels. It had a so-so storyline but there was a scene that caught my attention. I found myself wishing I had recorded the movie just for this one scene to show my husband.

    The family consisted of mom, dad, and two cute children, a girl and a boy. The mother was picking up toys and straightening the room while the father was reading the newspaper. Mom then bathed the children, got them ready for bed, had them kiss Daddy good-night, and was settling into a comfortable chair when the little boy asked Daddy to read a story. Without glancing up from the paper, Daddy said,

    “Your mother will read you one,” at which point Mom got up and went dutifully with the children.

    First thought through my mind? The Dad was definitely not a hands-on father.

    Granted that was the forties. It is possible that fathers in that era saw taking care of children as solely women’s work. But there are a few dads even today who are more than content to let the mothers handle most of the child-care.

    In my circle of acquaintances, there are some men who have a hands-on approach to parenting and some who are simply, what my best friend refers to as, “part-time Huggies-changers.” They want the glory but won’t get into the messiness of being a parent.

    Many households have both parents working and it is wrong to expect only one of them to handle all that caring for a child entails. Giving baths, changing diapers, reading stories, potty training; all the myriad details and chores of being a parent should be shared.

    Some couples share child care completely, each taking advantage of the Family Leave Act, by taking consecutive child-rearing leaves, without pay, from their jobs. Usually the mother takes the first year while the father takes the following year.

    While it may be difficult for all of us to take a leave without pay, there are still ways that parenting can be shared.

    Before you even think about having a child, ask your husband his definition of what being a father means. If he was raised in a family where the duties of parenting were mostly relegated to mom, and dad was not all that involved, ask him how he sees himself in the role of a father.

    Discuss what you feel is good for your child and fair to both of you, chore-wise. Take turns at chores that are more taxing, like bath time or meal preparation. Tell your husband that parenting is a hands-on production and you expect his physical help and emotional support.

    Let your husband know that, responsibilities aside, sharing child care is good for all of you and then allows the two of you, husband and wife, to spend more time together.

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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