Father’s Day is here and many spouses or partners are probably trying to come up with some unique ideas for helping to make their kids and step kids’ dad feel special this weekend. My own kids will be here for a picnic and my wife will do another fantastic job of orchestrating another great day for me.
But there is more to helping a father feel like a great dad than cake, new tools and gourmet burgers on the grill. It requires some relationship techniques that any partner or spouse can master to make any caring father an awesome dad. In turn it will contribute to a stronger and more loving relationship between you and him. Here are 5 things for turning your husband into a great dad:
Praise Him Privately. If you don’t feel that he’s sharing parenting duties with you fairly, it could be that he’s not feeling encouraged enough to step up to the plate. Commit to giving him lots of encouragement away from the kids, even if he makes mistakes. If you notice that he’s not handling a situation very well, avoid the urge to run in and take over. Go for a walk and let it go. Things will work out on their own. Correcting him in front of the kids or forcing them to pick a favorite parent are not good ideas.
Speak Respectfully in His Absence. It’s normal for the kids to complain about one parent to the other. Commit to always speaking respectfully when he’s not around. Encourage the kids to bring up their complaint directly to him or bring them together to talk and you facilitate. Don’t take sides, even if their dad behaved badly, but definitely let them talk about what happened and how it made them feel. Also avoid joining in on husband-bashing conversations when out with girlfriends. It could get back to him or at the very least, it will fuel you’re negative feelings about your relationship with him.
Men and Women Show Love Differently. If he demonstrates his love for the kids differently than you, don’t instantly try and convert him. A woman I know complained that her husband didn’t show her any love, yet he would always clean the snow and ice off of her car before he left for work each morning. Just because his means of loving the kids doesn’t look exactly like yours, doesn’t mean he should be corrected or changed. Read the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman for more help on this topic.
Find Out How He Was Parented. Many adults recreate the way they were parented in their own families. Talk to his parents to learn more about the style of parenting they used when he was a boy. If you were each raised differently, take a parenting class or read a parenting book together to learn new methods. Some men don’t like to read self-help books but they might listen to an audio version in the car. Be ready to be vulnerable to learning new methods yourself and avoid thinking your way is the only way.
Focus on Your Parenting Skills, Not His. Finally, if your attempts to get him to step up to the ‘parenting plate’ have been futile, remain steadfast in being a good, positive parent yourself anyway. If you’re able to obtain successful results with the kids, he is likely to see them and wonder how you did it. This may be enough to make him curious to want to join in. Be kind and supportive of him as your husband and a father. As my grandmother use to say, “You’ll attract more bees with honey, not vinegar,” meaning, you’ll get more of what you want with kindness and not bitterness.