Like most moms, I’m guilty of occasionally swooping in to take over when the mister is minding the little ones. I think it’s something a lot of us do simply because, even if we’re working moms, we tend to spend more time with our kids – either by design or by circumstance. The logical conclusion being that we consequently have a better idea of what they want, need, think, and feel than dads or co-parents.
I won’t lie and deny that it’s probably true when it comes to medical appointments, class schedules, what they want for Christmas, and the names of their current best friends, but knowing that kind of stuff doesn’t necessarily make us more qualified in the moment to hand out snacks, pick school clothes, give a five minute warning, or issue time outs. Dads are not babysitters, hello. They can parent just as well as we can!
Here are five very good reasons to let dads (or co-parents) take the reigns:
1. It gives you a break. Some moms aren’t lucky enough to have involved co-parents. Take advantage of the fact that dad is keeping an eye on the kids and catch up on email, eat a snack in peace, or phone up that friend you’ve been meaning to call. Do not point an ear at the living room where the rest of the fam is playing Candyland or you’re not going to enjoy your break. If it sounds like chaos is erupting, trust dad to handle it.
2. Kids should know that time with dad is a special time – different than time with mom, but that’s okay. I’m not saying that a mom can’t be the ‘fun one,’ but let’s face it… we usually aren’t because we’re the ones who think about vitamins and the dishes and what pants with holes say about a person. Who’s more likely to take everyone out for pizza on a whim, really? You get the picture. So what if there’s nary a vegetable in sight at Saturday dinner when it’s dad’s turn to plan? So what if dad lets the kids wear Halloween costumes to Costo – in July?
3. Just like moms are always being told they’re failing their kids in some way by the media, dads are being told that they are little more than low functioning ape men incapable of fixing their kids’ breakfast or laundering the whites. Don’t contribute to the stereotype by jumping in whenever your co-parent tries to make an executive decision about mealtime, bathtime, or what socks go with what outfit.
4. Dads do things differently. It’s good for children and teens to see that there’s more than one way to solve a problem or keep boredom at bay. It might really drive you crazy to see how your co-parent handles craft time or hair washing or even certain social situations when you have shy kids, but zip that lip. Your way might be the more efficient way or the cleaner way but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most creative way or the most fun way.
5. Your little ones need to know that you and dad work as a team. They can’t rely on you to pop in to countermand dad’s orders – and it’s not a good idea to teach them that they can come to you whenever they don’t like dad’s rules, anyway. Whether the co-parent in your life is more of a disciplinarian than you are or a little more easy going, let them parent. If you have serious reservations about choices they’re making – short of anything resembling abuse, of course – don’t make an issue of it in the moment. You can talk about it after the little ones are in bed.