Your husband arrives home after a long day at work, eats dinner and promptly turns on the television. The kids are dying for his attention but he is too exhausted to interact. You are frustrated about his lack of attention but also sympathetic to his situation. Even though your husband may be tired, children need two parents dedicated to raising them, advises parenting and marriage author Sheila Wray Gregoire. Thankfully, there are ways to work with your husband to change this family dynamic.
Mothers may instinctively feel that they know best for their children. Still, if you want your husband to help with the kids, listen to his thoughts on parenting. If he wants the kids to have an earlier bedtime, don't insist otherwise. If he isn't contributing any ideas, Wray Gregoire suggests asking: "What do you envision for our family? How would you like to organize the kids and the parenting?”
Offer Praise, Not Punishment
Wives are sometimes guilty of only telling their husbands what they don't want, says psychologist Shawn Smith in the Psychology Today article, "How to Get Your Husband to Help More." These husbands may end up feeling like they can't please their wives. Instead, praise parenting behavior that makes you happy. If he decides to read a story to your daughter instead of watching TV, express gratitude. A reward, such as booking a babysitter for a date night, will serve as reinforcement.
Give Him Specific Tasks
Don't be afraid to ask your husband to take the kids off your hands for a few hours. Make his job easier by telling him what to do, such as reading specific books or giving baths. You might also want to give your husband a certain daily task. For example, he could be the one who takes the kids to swimming lessons. Your children might resist, but after a week or two kids generally adjust. This will get him involved with the kids and help set a precedent for a more active parenting role.
Work on Your Relationship
If you and your husband are arguing about taking care of the kids, remember not to place blame. Instead, focus on the pattern of the argument itself. Ask yourselves when you started to fight, what tipped off the argument and what happened before, during and after the fight. This helps zero in on the problem at hand. Focus on having a healthy relationship with your husband. If your connection is strong, it is more likely your partner will be willing to help out.
Alana Vye is a Canadian writer living abroad. She had a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Toronto and has worked in online marketing and publicity. She's also an avid traveler who has visited Asia, Europe and Central America.
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