How can I get my husband to be a more hands-on Dad?

Wendy - posted on 05/28/2011 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I am a first-time stay-at-home mom of a 15-month old little boy who is my life. Before his birth, my husband and I agreed that he would continue working and I would be the stay at home parent. I can't imagine a job I look forward to more; I truly enjoy all the time I get to spend with our little one.

However since he was born, I've been very disappointed in my husband's more passive approach to parenting. Let me say up front that I do have a wonderful husband who is very loving, so I naturally thought he'd take to parenting like he took to marriage and jump right in. That is far from the case!

When my son was born and would get up every two hours to feed, rather than offering to get up FOR me sometimes, my husband would tell me he'd instead get up WITH me to help out (which honestly doesn't help much; it only takes one parent to feed a baby). I expressed to him many times I'd really rather we alternate and take turns so we both can get some much needed sleep, but he nonetheless insisted on getting up when I got up to sit with me while I fed the baby. Needless to say, we were both very tired and worn out.

As my son has progressed in age, the passive approach toward parenting on his part has gotten increasingly worse. He NEVER watches him when he's at home; instead he flops in front of the TV with some food and watches sports for a couple hours, gets on the computer to list auctions, goes outside to work in the yard or goes off to run errands. He did suggest one day he'd like to clear part of our land to build a play ground for him when he's older and has been working on that project, but to me, this more passive approach is no help whatsoever in the daily care of our child.

In January, I was very sick for two whole weeks with a fever of 106, yet he still never offered to take over parenting our son until I got better. He could have taken a day or two off of work to help me out, but opted not to. He also plans mini-vacations throughout the year to treat himself which last anywhere between 2 and 4 days. They are clearly activities you can't do with a young child (fishing, gold panning, etc.) so I am always stuck back at home, entrusted with our son's care, while he's out enjoying himself. What's more is I don't think he even gives this a second thought or finds anything wrong with the arrangement. He never offers me a "weekend off" or even gives me some extra money so I could at least go somewhere nice or do something special. I'm sure if I asked for even a whole day off to do as I please he'd probably turn as white as a ghost. I've asked for "time off" as a present for Mother's Day or my birthday but instead all I end up getting is some material gift instead.

On top of this, he doesn't help out around the house either. He hasn't done the dishes or cleaned the house since our son was born; that falls on me too. I don't mind doing this, but when you already have a demanding job 24 hours a day, you really don't have a lot of extra time for that, never mind to take time out for yourself and relax.

I know he loves our son bunches (he gives him lots of kisses) but about the best I can do is to ask him to watch him for 10 minutes at a time while I do the dishes or while I'm cooking (and his definition of watching him is either sitting him on his lap and not speaking a word to him or putting him directly in his play yard by himself).

In summary, I have basically been a single parent for fifteen months now, without a single day off. I'm about to go CRAZY! My mom says I need to talk to him about this, and I want to do so. But my husband is the type of guy who literally clams up when you attempt to gently prod him about issues or problems and you never get a word out of him (I guess he thinks you're verbally attacking him or something). I would like advice and support on how to approach him about this because I want him to become actively involved in parenting our son EVERY DAY for at least an hour or two. This would take a load of stress off me and would make the bond between him and our son so much stronger. Any advice would be much welcomed and greatly appreciated.

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Amanda - posted on 05/28/2011

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I think Michelles right, he could be a bit overwhelmed and not sure as to what to do with your son.

Would he be open helping with bathtime, by that I mean just sitting in while you bath him and then moving to splashing in the water with him to washing him. He may be totally lost as to what to do and needs you to show him but doesn't want to ask.
My hubby was fine with my son at bathtime but he freaked out about it when I had my daughter. After I got to the bottom of why he was refusing to do the bath anymore he said he wasn't sure how to make sure my daughter was clean and felt abit funny about cleaning her "bits" after he was talked through it he now would rather bath the kids than wash up.
In my house the kids get bathed after tea. When hubbys home I give the choice, bath the kids and get them ready for bed or clean the kitchen and load the dishwasher. Maybe he just needs a firm hand and some guidence and reassurance that he's doing it right.

Michelle - posted on 05/28/2011

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I wonder if your Husband thinks he wouldn't do a good job of looking after your son on his own. For a lot of first time Dad's it's very daunting having a little person dependant on you for everything. They also sometimes think that it comes naturally to women so they leave it to us.

My first husband was a bit like that when I had my boys. He wouldn't look after them on his own but he would at least play with them when I was around.

My current Husband can't get more hands on unless he bacame the stay at home parent. I guess age also play a part in the maturity of the Dad's. My current husband was in his 40's when we had our daughter. He always tells me that we created her together so it's both our responsibilies to look after her.

Maybe instead of asking for a couple of hours off (like he's the boss) just say to him that you are going out for an hour or so. You don't have to do anything special, you can just go and sit in a park and read a magazine for a bit. Just start with baby steps so he can gain his own confidence in being able to look after your son.

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Kimberly - posted on 05/29/2011

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i totally agree with the other ladies, sometimes guys just dont realize that they can do a good job too. my hubby was scared of ur daughter when she was little and i knew this but as she got older he still wasnt doing as much as i thought he would until we sat down and i realized that I had to give him the oppurtunity to get to know her himself and find his own way to do things without doing it ' my way'. starting by getting him to bath time is a good way, its fun play time. I dont think we realize sometimes that because we just do everything it can feel a bit overwhelming to our hubby that he cant do it as good. My hubby now looks after our daughter while i do my shifts at work which is feeding tea, bath, bed etc yes he may not do everything the way i do or all the dishes for that matter but i do know that our daughter had a great time with daddy so all that said and done, talk to your hubby and tell him how you feel good luck

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