There are several accomplishments that I’m proud of in my six years of marriage, but the thing that brings my heart the most joy is watching my husband be an amazing dad. Our daughters, who are two and four, absolutely adore spending time with him. From running around in the backyard to watching a movie in their couch fort, those daddy-daughter moments are beyond precious.
I have to admit, though, that I’ve been very intentional about fostering their bond.
Whether it’s logistics, personality, or just an innate maternal connection, moms tend to become the “default parent.” This is the case in our family because my husband has a demanding work schedule and I’m a stay-at-home mom. So not only do I get more parenting practice, but I have a natural rhythm with my daughters purely from spending more time with them.
With that in mind, I take steps to maximize the interactions between my husband and my kids.
Here are a few easy ways you can make sure that your husband has plenty of chances to flex his dad muscles.
Redirect Your Kids
When your husband is home, you can start by consciously redirecting your kids to him. It drives me crazy when we’re both sitting on the couch and my kids still come to me with every little request. I always make a point to remind them that their dad is also available and equally capable of everything I am. He can feed them snacks, help them put on their shoes, and have a tea party with them. He can even do their hair!
Training your kids to go to their dad is important for establishing him as an equal caregiver and authority figure.
Trust His Judgment
I had to accept years ago that my husband’s brain doesn’t operate exactly like mine because we’re different people. As long as we agree on the same fundamental parenting ideals, like teaching our kids manners and treating them with respect, I try not to micromanage all of his decisions. We’ll all survive if he cuts their sandwich into rectangles instead of triangles.
Sometimes my husband will ask me a question when he’s unsure of himself. That’s understandable because I have a bit more insight into our kids’ habits, but if there isn’t one definite answer, I’ll ask him, “what would you do if I wasn’t here?”
If you want your spouse to feel like an equal parent, you have to treat him like one. That includes making a million trivial choices and figuring some things out on his own.
You can also designate time for your kids to spend with just their dad. Whether this means you disappear for a few hours or he takes them on an outing, the only way your husband can become a confident parent is with experience.
In our family, “dad time” can be anything from making pancakes to going to the park to running errands together. It doesn’t have to be a grand outing each time; just step aside and let him handle things alone.
Aside from improving the father/child dynamic, parenting solo will help your husband realize how much effort actually goes into keeping your little ones occupied and happy. I know that my husband appreciates my patience even more after he’s spent an entire day with our kids.
Although making special memories is a reward in itself, I try to give my husband genuine compliments about his parenting. I know that I like to hear when I’m doing a good job. Don’t you? The more positive feedback he receives, the more self-assured he’ll be as a father and the stronger our family will be.
I’m far from a perfect mother, but parenting is a skill and the more practice you have, the better you become. If your husband is struggling to feel like a wonderful father, give him plenty of opportunities to sharpen his skills and always acknowledge his efforts.