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  1. #1
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    Daddy involvement level (long)

    Hi all - needing a big time reality check from all the moms in the house.

    A little background: I'm 32, hubby is 38. We have one daughter, 4 mo. old. The delivery was early and nightmarish and through it all he was great, and now things have settled down, and right now Iím feeling like heís not as involved as I want him to be. Iím trying to figure out if my expectations are reasonable.

    This morning, I was trimming her nails AGAIN, b/c sheís been scratching up her face even though I trim them constantly. For like the fifth time, he said we should get an emery board and file the corners. He says it in that way where itís supposedly a comment, but what it really means is, ďIsnít it time you bought an emery board and filed her nails already?Ē and I got pretty irritated and said, ďYou keep bringing up this emery board thing. If you are convinced that is what we should do, why donít you go buy one instead of keep bringing it up? Why is this MY charge??Ē I thought about this for a long time this morning and am trying to figure out what bothered me so much about this fingernail argument business.

    We have generally been pretty equitable about things like chores, etc and arenít restricted to traditional social roles for ex, he often does the cooking and I take care of finances. But with the new baby it seems like that's out the window and suddenly mom is in charge of all things house and baby, though we both work full time and I'm also a part-time grad student.

    I bring her to/from daycare, do all her laundry, most of her feedings (including the middle of the night ones), all her baths and clipping nails, take her to all her dr apts, and do all her shopping. I'd also say I do most of the stuff around the house. Iím not saying he does nothing, but since the baby has come along he's doing far less taking care of her than I'd have expected, and a lot less around the house than he used to. Granted, there are a few factors out of his control, like the fact that Oct-Dec is his busiest time at work. But that doesnít account for all of it.

    What bothers me most is I don't feel like heís super engaged with her. I mean, he adores her, but his idea of spending time with her is having her fall asleep on his chest while he watches tv. This is OK sometimes, but not all the time. I do things with her like reading books and playing on the playmat and showing her toys, but he hardly ever does.

    Did you go thru this? How involved is/was your partner with the kids, both chore wise and for playtime? Did you have a confrontation?

    Heís also stubborn and can be defensive, so anything that comes across accusatory/nagging doesnít work. The only thing that ever worked with him is ultimatums (ďif you donít get me your cousinís address for our wedding invitations by Sat, youíre buying me those speakers.Ē Worked like a charm) Ė but that doesnít seem appropriate in this situation.

    I've been really patient and held my tongue, hoping it would resolve itself and that he was taking longer to transition into the parent role than I did (it was absolutely seamless for me, luckily, and I suppose maybe itís just not coming as easily for him). Are we just in a time where men still don;t feel they have to bear even close to an equal amount with the child rearing? How does this change?? Argh!

    thanks...

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  3. #2
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    Re: Daddy involvement level (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by CraftinFool
    Did you go thru this? How involved is/was your partner with the kids, both chore wise and for playtime? Did you have a confrontation? Are we just in a time where men still don;t feel they have to bear even close to an equal amount with the child rearing? How does this change??
    Yes. Not very. All the time. For some men. Communication. (All in this order)

    I won't get into our many issues, but it did seem like the day we got married was the last time he ran a vacuum or washed the dishes. Then when we had our first daughter, he did nothing. I did what you are doing - getting ready for daycare, working, picking her up, dinner, cleaning, bedtime for her. It is archaic and three and a half years later, it isn't getting any better. Sorry I can't help boost your morale.

  4. #3
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    May 2004
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    I feel your pain.

    We have a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old and we both work full-time. Plus, he leaves just before they're getting up and comes home while I'm fixing dinner. So a LOT of it falls to me. And all the child-management things that you cited.

    The thing I can say is that he's the fun one, he plays with them, and he is engaged with them. He's a great dad. When I'm shouting, "I said put your pajamas on!" He says, "Let's have a race to see who can get dressed first!" And he probably does an equal share of the workload - although it's different stuff. Like housework, yardwork, bill paying, etc.

    But I am telling you that it does get frustrating for me at times. In a way, it's a mom-thing. You will be the one that makes sure those things get done. And if a friend asks me to meet for a drink, I know that I will need to make sure everything is taken care of and in place before committing. Whereas he'll just say yes.

    And sometimes when I'm complaining that he isn't around to help out in the mornings, he'll remind me that he wishes he had that time with them that I have --- that it's special and I am the lucky one. And that I should enjoy it and relish it rather than resent it.

    So sometimes I need a reality check. I remind myself that this IS the job I signed up for. It helps to maintain communication with him (and not just nag). And I do need to remind myself that it evolves. So many of the patterns and assumptions of our relationship have gone out the window, now that children (and the responsibilities that come with them) are a vital part of the picture. We are still learning about each other and how to live together in harmony........

    Hope this helps.

  5. #4
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    CraftinFool...

    1. Make sure you voice these feelings to your husband in a calm rational way. You don't want to make an argument out of something that can easily be talked about (I am only saying this because I tend to jump into arguments and I know by experience that this is one thing that shouldn't be argued about) He needs to know that you feel overwhelmed and that you would really love some help from him. I know it's hard to ask for the help, and then also once you ask for the help it seems they just help for a few days then forget about it.

    2. When I was pregnant with #4 my husband said something akin to not being in love with the baby before he was born. Now, I am not saying that he didn't love the baby and wouldn't sacrifice his life for him, but he didn't have that love that most mothers are able to have from conception. I think with most men they have to see the baby to feel it.

    3. That being said....I have also noticed that his level of involvement with each child greatly increased as that child was able to do more. Fathers seem to like to rough house and play. They want interaction.

    4. Even if in every other aspect of a man's life he treats his wife/partner equally there might be a built in instinct that women feed the baby, nurture the baby, cut the babies nails...and men support the women in this while keeping their distance.

    5. If his idea of bonding with the baby is letting her sleep on his chest, then that is great! There are fathers out there who don't even do that.

    6. He loves the baby, he loves you. See back to #1

    I am not saying that all fathers are the way I just described. I am not even saying your husband is that way at all. I am just laying down some thinking points.

    Now. I have been forced to actually work....so I can't keep going and wrap up. Sorry!

  6. #5
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    What is the difference between the chicken and pig at breakfast? The chicken is involved, the pig is committed.

    We, mom-ladies, are the pigs.

    Especially when our babies are bitty. Babies want their mommies, (especially if they're breastfed).

    If we're feeling overwhelmed with work/babies/obligations, we need to speak up, otherwise we'll stay overwhelmed (been there, done that, have the T-shirt). Gotta figure out the game plan. Gotta delegate. All the time. Gotta ask for help. All the time. Lots of dads need to be trained and alas, we're the ones who need to be the trainers.

    Your story about the emery boards reminds me of a running argument my husband and I had. For the umpteenth time he told me he wanted a lock on our bedroom door, and I finally replied, "You're a grown-up. You want the lock. You can get into the car, go down to the hardware store and GET IT YOURSELF." He never brought it up again, and you know what? We still don't have the lock.

  7. #6
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    I don't have any advice from my own experience, but I know my parents were in the same boat as you are now. My mom was trying to take care of my three siblings and me, going to school full-time, and working full-time. My dad didn't listen until she fell asleep at the wheel, from being so tired and run down. After that he took a very large role at home. Hopefully you can talk it out before it gets to a point where you're in danger like that though.

  8. #7
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    I'm not a mom, but I am in a serious relationship and from that experience I'd say maybe you should sit down with him and feel out if he's intimidated or nervous about taking over some of your responsibilities. It might be that he wants to do more but doesn't know how, and he puts up a defensive front to cover up that he's lacking in the right skills. Perhaps you could start to do certain things together so that he can get comfortable with the baby before you leave him on his own. Kind of like the babysitting training you do as a 12-year-old. :) Good luck!

  9. #8
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    Thanks all. I knew that you would have some excellent insights for me.

    One helpful thing was hearing that other moms find they do the lion's share too. Helps put things in perspective (although I wish it might be different, I guess that's still where today's families are at.) It also helped to hear that he may get more involved as she's more active, I hadn't thought of that, but he does like to roughhouse with the nephews so that may very well be the case.

    I'm feeling much better about the whole thing and I think right now the best thing is focusing on the positive and encouraging him when he is involved.

    thanks again.

  10. #9
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    It's not that I do everything, its not that he doesn't help out, it's just that I feel like I'm in CHARGE of everything, y'know?

    Actually, one thing that has really helped us is talking about how things were in our houses growing up - we both lived in houses where the roles were very much split along gender oriented lines, and just recognizing that, and talking about how easy it is to fall into those expectations for ourselves and each other helped tremendously.

  11. #10
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    You definitely need to talk to him about it. He may not know what to do, or he might think you like doing what you're doing for your daughter and he doesn't want to take it away from you. You never know why unless you talk to him.

    It might be because of how he grew up since a lot of families are like this, the mom takes over everything and the dad is on the sidelines (Whether he wants to be or not sometimes!)

    The nail file thing sounds like mis-communication. He might've been wanting your opinion on it. Even though this situation is over, next time something like that pops up, say "Yeah, pick one up on your way home tomorrow and file her nails." Or whatever fits.

    Hopefully after you talk to him and tell him your expectations and that you're a little disappointed. (Not to mention that you're overwhelmed). Maybe he just doesn't KNOW what to do. Especially with spending time with your daughter that's interactive. It sounds silly, but is completely possible.


 
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