Parenting has always been a partnership between mothers and fathers. In the past, it was usually one kind of partnership: Dad in charge of making a living and Mom in charge of looking after the house and children. That worked for many years and, for some families, it still works fairly well. But now mothers and fathers are more likely to share many roles.
So we need new ways to think about being a partner.
Keys to Parenting Together
• Accepting your differences
In most families, Mom and Dad handle the kids differently. That’s not just because one is a man and the other is a woman. We also have differences in personality, cultural background, childhood experiences and our style with kids — even differences in what drives us crazy. You may hardly notice when your kids are noisy while your wife may get upset. She might have endless patience with questions while you tire of them very quickly. It’s not always a matter of who’s right and who’s wrong.
• Talking about time
When you have children, time management becomes a whole new ball game and parents should talk about it together. It’s important to negotiate things like housework, child care and leisure time. It’s also a good idea to be aware of your partner’s time-stress and think about how you can support her.
• Sharing the load
Being an involved parent means doing your share of the work of raising kids. But it also means a change in the way you think. Someone in the family has to keep track of things: In most families this load falls to one person, usually Mom, and it’s there 24 hours a day. It’s hard to share this load equally. It might even be inefficient to have two people worrying about details like when to go shopping and who needs a bath tonight. But when the load is really unequal, mothers and fathers have a harder time understanding each other. They start thinking things like, “Why is this such a big deal to her?” or “Why can’t he understand how I feel?”
There’s no easy answer, because families are just learning how to operate in a more equal way, but one key is paying attention to what’s going on and how it affects your partner.
• Bailing each other out
We all have our bad moments. And when you do, the greatest thing in the world is a partner who can tell when you’re at the end of your rope, or one to whom you can say, “I can’t deal with this right now, can you take over?”An involved father who knows his children and understands what they need in all kinds of situations can do this for his partner.
• Sharing the experience
When child rearing is a “project” that you share, it can bring you together as a couple. Together you’ll experience the ups and downs, the joys and frustrations. You’ll understand and appreciate each other better because the same things will be important to each of you. You’ll be her partner, rather than another person she has to look after.
taken from Involved Fathers: A guide for today’s dad