The minute our sweet little girl was put on my chest, my life was changed. Cliche? Yes. True? Absolutely.
I was immediately a mother. I was one of those who instinctively knew exactly what she needed and was ready to meet that need. I was quickly confident and felt secure in my role as mom. It’s like it was in my bones to care for this child, from the start.
My husband on the other hand, struggled a bit. He was immediately a doting, loving father, no doubt. However he had a harder time figuring out how to address her needs. I would venture to say the majority of dads feel this way.
Something I battled was allowing my husband to find his stride. Because it was instinctual for me, I always wanted to be the one that cared for her when she cried, because I hated the sound of it. Without realizing it, I was damaging my husband’s abilities to become her daddy. I had to back off, give him space and make room for letting dad learn how to be daddy.
I distinctly remember talking to my mom on the phone about a specific situation. My daughter was around 4 months old, and I was struggling with letting my husband find his stride as a father. Anytime my girl was crying, I could and would comfort her very quickly. I knew when she ate last, was changed last, was scared, etc. I just knew. I realize lots of dads are instinctual, but from what I regularly see – moms are just better at this. It’s hardwired into us.
I was making a HUGE mistake as a new mom, and I would bet a lot of moms do this too.
I wasn’t allowing my husband to grow in his role as a dad, because I was quick to jump in to perform my role as a mom.
I was causing a lot of damage, without truly being tuned in to why or how. Any time my daughter cried, I was quick to take her from my husband and calm her down. I was complaining to my mom how frustrating it was because my sweet husband was trying his hardest, but just wasn’t there yet. She clearly told me, “Roxanne, you have to give him the space he needs to learn. He’ll never figure it out if he doesn’t get the chance to try.”
This changed a lot for me. And I’m not going to pretend it was easy. It was excruciating at times to listen to my baby cry, when I knew I could swoop in and stop it. But I believe it was the right decision, and I would challenge you to consider if it is something you need to try. Here’s why I strongly believe moms needs to back off at times, and let dad learn how to find his stride.
- The daddy has to learn how to comfort outside of you telling him what to do. If I’m always jumping in immediately and explaining what my child needs to my husband, he’s not learning basic problem-solving in his parenting. I’m not allowing him the opportunity to be attentive to cries/gestures so that he is able to decipher her needs on his own.
- I was undermining my husband’s confidence as a father. I didn’t intentionally do this. That would never be my purposeful goal. But I was doing it, whether I meant to or not. Every time I said, “give her to me”, I was telling him he couldn’t do it and I didn’t believe in him. That was damaging on his journey to becoming the amazing dad that he is. Our actions speak volumes.
- I don’t want to be the only one who knows what my child needs. Yes, I was confident that I could care for my daughter, but wouldn’t I want my husband to have that exact same confidence? I wanted to be able to leave for hours at a time and know that they would be just fine. If I never allowed him to find his stride, I wouldn’t be comfortable with his ability to care for her. And that’s a lose-lose for everyone involved.
As for you momma, what this requires on your part is trust. Trust not in your husband or yourself to repair the damage he causes from his missteps in parenting, but in God to provide the wisdom needed to parent children and in your child’s resilience to bounce back. Let’s be honest, it’s not only our husbands who drop the ball – we all do. That being said, we have to stop acting like our man making a parenting mistake means irreparable damage to our children. This is simply not true of dads or moms.
Failure is often the pathway to understanding and wisdom. Encourage your man to learn your child’s needs, even if it means awkward moments and anxiety. Your children and your marriage will be better for it in the end.
My husband is an amazing father. He is attentive, loving, caring and present. I think he was always meant to be a great dad, but I know allowing him the room to figure things out on his own (and fail a few times) helped him be even better.
**You may also enjoy reading, Letting Dads be Dads.