Friday, January 30, 2009

Mad at Dad? Look in the Mirror

There's a rather long essay on where the author talks about her anger at her husband's lack of parenting skills. It's a long, but fascinating read, with statistics about the different angers women seem to have at their children's fathers. Read the story here:

I admit, my first thought was "It's your fault woman," and I know that will be a VERY unpopular stance. This woman seemed surprised at her husband's (and others') behavior, as if they hadn't been living together or married for any time prior to having the child. We get to pick who we have children with, at least you would think so, so it is logical to me that at some point one would ask themselves, "Will this person make a good parent."

The jury is still out on my parenting skills, obviously, since the baby still hasn't been born. I get a lot of "You're going to be a great father" encouragement, but who knows. I feel I have a certain grasp on what may be needed from the both of us, so I will be able to help as much as possible and do my part. According to this story, the way I read it, many women (including the author), might not have known what they were getting into. A selfish person may make for a selfish parent. Some people have very old-fashioned ideas on parenting roles, like the man makes the money while the women stay home to care for the kids, and dinner's done when he gets home. It's incredibly obvious to me that communicating about each parent's expectations PRIOR to the baby being born might be beneficial.

Not until the very last paragraph of the story does the author mention what might help women get over the anger: "The ones we also really need to talk to, however, are our husbands." This was only after suggesting mothers should talk to other moms, to see they are not alone with their anger issues. I'm sorry, but this sounds totally backwards to me. If you just bottle this anger up and not communicate your feelings, nothing good will come of it. I can appreciate the anger, but I can't be too understanding if I don't know you're harboring it.

I've tried to prove to my wife that I'm totally into being a decent parent, really giving it a go. I've had other delusions of grandeur, but I know the stakes are really high this time. I've read my books, paid attention and asked questions at classes, watched DVDs and recorded baby TV shows (Deliver Me is our new favorite), I've tried my best at helping around the house with chores or getting what the wife needs when she is unable (putting on her shoes is funny). If there's anything I'm missing I hope that she knows she only needs to ask, or remind me. Part of what the author writes about, where her husband can't remember certain details about their kids, I can understand. But I don't always know what my wife does or doesn't know, and vice versa, so I'm pretty confident we will communicate about those gaps.

I figured this was still an issue, given how many talk shows on TV still deal with dead-beat dads and the continuing onslaughtof TV "comedies" that have an overweight, oafish dad who is clueless about child rearing (yet somehow married to some hot woman). Whatever happened to the Ward Cleaver's of the world? Mike Brady hired help for Carol but they still have tiffs that resulted (tidily) in communication and resolution. Where are those characters today? If that's where people get role models (heaven help us), then a decent portrayal of good fathering would be nice. For every Cliff Huxtable or Race Bannon, we're stuck with a Ray Ramano or Peter Griffin instead.

Nobody wins when there's anger in a relationship, especially the kids. One thing I remember a lot of growing up was the hollering my parents did at each others. That was mainly due to their individual stubbornness but probably also due to lack of communication. Did I learn that's how to get a point across? Maybe, and I've taken certain steps to quell that impulse. I"m trying to communicate my feelings now, before there's a dust-up. When we're both sleep-deprived these next several months, that type of behavior will be very important. It seems so obvious to me, but maybe I got lucky in picking who I'm having a child with.

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