“Do you know what YOUR child did?” is one of my favorite quotes from the Cosby show that the characters Cliff and Claire would say when they were reporting the shenanigans of one of their many children. What I admired most was the strong male role-model of Dr. Huxtable. This blog series is based off of the book, His Needs Her Needs. Her #5 need is Family Commitment.
If a man never grew up playing dolls or house, I can understand how the reality of having noisy kids running around could be overwhelming. It can be easy to withdraw and let the wife handle the child-management.
She needs him to be a good father.
Having a strong family unit is important when a wife is financially vulnerable to her husband and exhausted from parenting all day. She needs to know that her husband is “all in.” Where a husband can have great value is by demonstrating “togetherness” for the moral and educational development of the children.
Priority management is essential because parenting takes time.
When starting a family, it amazes me how little discussion people have about their parenting goals and strategy. Agreement is reached on the number of children and there is no conversation about how to parent these planned children. There is no instruction manual for each individual child. There are theories and techniques that have to be taken into consideration given the couples core values. The quote that stood out to me from the book is, “If you want to influence your children, training them to become successful adults, time together is crucial.” We all have the same amount of time in the day. We all make choices about how to allocate our best hours when we have the most energy. Often times, it is easy to give the leftovers of our day to the people who are most important to us. When you look at your calendar, are your family priorities scheduled?
Goal: Plan family activities by booking them on the calendar in advance.
For husbands who feel overwhelmed and under-prepared for the most important job they will ever have, the book identifies strategies to help.
- Learn how to reach agreement with your wife—negotiate expectations and consequences of children’s behavior so you are on the same page.
- Learn how to explain the rules – patiently answer the “whys” to explain your moral, ethical, and personal values.
- Learn how to be consistent— stick to the rules, regardless of mood.
- Punish properly – train by example. Raise children who need little or no punishment.
- Learn to handle anger – angry outbursts are “temporary insanity” and the damage it can do is dangerous and unpredictable. “Discipline given in anger is not carefully planned. It’s impulsive and it teaches a child that an angry outburst is an appropriate way to vent frustrations.” Control anger before disciplining any child.
Danger: The challenge for new parents is how to protect the marriage so it can survive the child-rearing years. People build their family on the solidness of their union…and then they neglect the health of the marriage, which is separate from their roles as parents. The book warns to not let parenting compete with romance. The most dangerous time for an affair is after a couple has their first child. Men don’t want to have to compete with their offspring for their wife’s attention and then lose repeatedly. Fractures in the relationship start to happen when each other’s basic needs start to get neglected.
Since I’m not planning on starting a family, this need was the lowest on my list. As a supporter of strong marriages I try to encourage new moms, especially, to tend to the health of their marriage. Parenting is a heavy responsibility that is best shared with a partner who is “all in.” And when you get home from being gone, your partner can tell you, “do you know what YOUR child did?” and proceed to explain the shenanigans of the day.
Reflect & Share: What does “family commitment” look like for you? What does it mean to be a “good father”?
Like. Follow. Share. Comment.