This is a guest post by Bethany Cousins, who writes the Mommy Rantings Blog…
Maybe it’s my natural born insecurities or the fact that he grew up in a pack of 8 children, versus the compact family that I grew up in, with only one sibling. It could be the fact that he was born with a patience level that far exceeds my own. Or it might just be the fact that I allow him to be the Dad that he wants to be. The truth is: my husband is much better at tolerating and handling the chaos that our six children create than I am, on any given day of the week.
Can We Handle Another Child?
After the third child, each time I got pregnant, I turned to my husband with the same question, “How are we going to do this?” He always smiled and told me, “We’ve done it with this many…what’s one more? They’re good kids.”
With our seventh on the way, I’m constantly asking myself, “Can I handle one more child? How am I going to put two little ones to bed with a newborn?” Depending on the job site, my husband can be out of town for several days to a week at a time, which leaves me to handle the daily life in the household and the nightly routines. When it boils down to it, I have obviously forgotten that I have done this before with a newborn.
I never once hear my husband question whether we can handle more kids. In the middle of complete chaos, he can handle the phone calls, mealtimes, changing diapers, the pressure of life, a handful of children running around like a bunch of wild animals, and appear like nothing fazes him. Add some of the children’s friends or some neighborhood children to the pandemonium, and I’m pushing my limits to the extreme, but my husband continues to uphold his patience and keeps them all entertained, with a unique suaveness. I love that about him!
Encouraging the Dad
Deep down, though, I know that I have something to do with how wonderful he is as a father. Throughout my life, I have seen many miserable parenting stories. Mothers who use their children as pawns, trying to hurt the father, for whatever reason they may feel is legit. I have seen mothers prevent the fathers from seeing their kids, mothers who belittle the father in front of the children and mothers who don’t allow the father to parent with his own strategies. I have even seen the protective mother-bear moms who, without even knowing it, undermine the relationship that the father could have with their children. I find this heartbreaking, for both the father and the children.
One thing that I promised myself, far before we became parents together, was that I was going to encourage my husband to become the best Dad that he could be by standing back and allowing him to make his mistakes. I had learned from the example of others. I wanted my children to be able to experience a true relationship with their Dad. As a mother-bear who is protective of her cubs, this is not an easy endeavor. Dads are made of human flesh, just as we Moms are – and they’re destined to make mistakes.
Although it is in my blood to protect my little cubs, I continue to find the courage to permit him to make his mistakes as a parent and learn from them. I’m definitely not a perfect parent – there’s no doubt that I make my share of mistakes as a mother, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a husband who understands that even mothers make mistakes.
Certainly, we’ve had our share of “parental disagreements” – and not all of them ended in a win-win concurrence. From methods of discipline to allowing our children to play on the computers, our parenting values and strategies differ, but we have been able to, for almost twelve years now, find a middle ground by permitting each other to parent with our own styles. We will tell each other when we think the other parent is being too harsh or too light-handed and, quite often, we will agree to disagree.
When it comes down to it, if you want to help bring out the best in your children’s father, you are going to have to learn how to take a seat on the passenger’s side and let him work through his own methods and strategies. He will figure out which strategies work and which ones need to be modified or thrown out altogether on his own. He will also have more respect for you, as the mother of his children, if he is given the freedom to raise his children without boundaries. I believe this to be true for both married and separated parents.
Could the fact that I understand that my husband deserves the freedom to parent our children without restrictions be the reason he takes fatherhood in stride? Does it contribute to the patience that he exhibits amongst the chaos? Is he a great Dad because I’ve learned how to take the passenger’s seat and let him drive himself to the destination of fatherhood without boundaries?
I can’t specifically say what it is that makes him such a great Dad, but I can say that I think I’m onto something.
How exciting! That is not an easy thing to do, and I’m impressed at your success. I hope I’ll be able to do the same with my hubby, and your frank tale encourages me. Thank you for sharing.