It was Father's Day in America last Sunday so the American media and blogsphere have been buzzing with stuff about fathers. Now, fathers day gets almost as mushy as mother's day - which I have already ranted about a little - but I did take this opportunity to have a think about my children's father and just how amazingly, wonderfully, awesome he is (the fact that he is also my husband totally aside). So I was inspired to write a short post about how I help him be so amazingly, wonderfully, awesome. Because being my blog, it is all about me my friends.
CAUTION: this is not an instruction manual on how to make the father of your children just like mine. Last time I checked, I didn't make mine, God did. This post is primarily a reaction to an article that I read that was designed to make mothers everywhere feel like slighted victims if their husband didn't do xyz rather than the powerful contributors to their family dynamic that they actually are.
1. I pray for my husband and his relationship with our children. I could probably stop there really. Honestly, this is the most powerful thing I do. If I am concerned about something I pray about it before (and after) I talk to my Beloved about it. If I am pleased about something I thank and praise him and God. Don't underestimate the power of sustained and persistent prayer.
2. I step back and let him do it his way. It is possible, just possible, that I am a little bit of a control freak. So let's just say this doesn't come natural. I have all day with the kids and I have my own little way of doing things that I know works. When he does things differently it can be tempting to step in and offer instruction on how to do it PROPERLY (read: my way). But if I step back and shut up, it is amazing how his way usually works to.....sometimes even better.
3. I keep my mouth shut when he does make mistakes. Yes folks, he makes mistakes - rarely but he does. Sometimes when that happens it can be tempting to jump in and "fix" it while I shoot accusatory glares and snide comments in his direction. But let's face it, I make mistakes too! I try and remember to treat him the same way I want to be treated when I screw up.
4. I respect and draw on his opinion. If I am stumped with something with the kids, I ask him what he thinks I should do. It can be tempting to believe that because I have read more parenting books and I spend all day with the kids that he does not have anything to offer but it couldn't be further than the truth. He comes from a place of knowing me, knowing the kids and loving us all. He has a fresh perspective after being out of the house at work all day and he is clever too. Sometimes I have asked his advice then been tempted to ignore it because it didn't line up with what I thought. But then I put it into practise and lo and behold, it DOES work! Even just thrashing out an problem together helps us to be a team rather than two free agents.
5. I back him up. If we disagree on how to deal with a situation we talk about it quietly and away from the kids. As far as the kids are concerned we are a united front. The kids know they cannot play one against the other and they feel more secure because of it.
6. I celebrate who he is with the kids. Beloved likes cars. I don't drive. He likes 4 wheel driving, I like hiking. He has an eye for detail, I'm more of a big-picture-bang-it-together kinda gal. But when I talk to the kids I celebrate these aspects of who he is. I talk about how clever he is to put together the new transmission for the ute himself and how he saved us so much money. I talk about how Daddy worked so hard for months to finish off the boy's room. I excitedly look forward to our next 4wd trip. It would be easy to gripe in front of the kids about how long it took to get some of those jobs finished or moan about how I'd really rather walk a track than bump along in a car but by talking Daddy up in their eyes I am nurturing their relationship with him.
7. I structure our day to include him, even when he is gone. At meal times and worship times throughout the day we pray for him when he is gone. We plan little surprises for him. We have time planned after dinner for stories and worship that includes Daddy whenever he is home and once a week we have a special Sabbath dinner which I try and make an event to look forward to - so he is eager to be at home with us rather than doing a few more hours at work to escape from the chaos at home! Now, things will probably LOOK different at your house than they do at mine but the core principle is the same. Dad is a treasured member of our home even he isn't here.
8. I actively nurture my relationship with my Beloved. I know I am a better mother when Beloved is filling my love-tank so I do that for him. I know that two things make him happy - a decent meal and clean clothes. Seeing as I am the at-home member of our partnership, I try and make these a priority. When he walks through the door I try and take a moment to offer a coffee, hug and/or conversation. I try and make sure I am not too tired at the end of the day to make time for him. I try and get the kids to bed early on Thursday nights then make us a special "date night" meal. Again, this may look different in other people's homes and I don't necessarily get all these things done every day but the core principle is active nurturing of our relationship.
9. I don't compare. I have a friend whose husband gets up one morning on the weekends, organises the kids and brings her breakfast in bed. Sometimes on the weekend I get up, put on a DVD for the kids, sneak back into bed and we whisper sweet nothings for a while. A sleep in and breakfast in bed? Nice, but not nice enough to give up all the other wonderful things about my husband. If I were to compare and complain all it would serve to do is erode his confidence as husband and father. I prefer to build him up whenever possible.
10. Finally, if I do need to come to him with a concern, I do it prayerfully, privately and lovingly. I humbly try and remember all MY failings and shortcomings and try to speak in such a way that I build him up and help him rather than erode and tear him down. I try and look at my own failings first - remove the plank from my own eye so to speak and ask myself if it really IS important enough to make an issue of. Because I do this rarely and I do my best to do it with the same kindness and love I would want for me, he is usually quite open to listen and make changes if needs be.
So there it is, my top ten for my top bloke.
Love you honey!!