Although some have predicted an economic rebound ahead, we can all see evidence that we’re still living in tough times. Many dads have lost their jobs or have taken extreme measures to reinvent their careers. Some are working part-time at home while Mom takes advantage of her full-time work options.
For any dads concerned about how to provide for their families, there is a steady stream of worry and stress. But if we’re taking lemons and making lemonade, what silver lining can we find about a dad being out of work or underemployed?
One obvious answer, at least for us, is more time to be a dad! Even though that isn’t a situation every dad would choose, a father spending more time in the home really does create some new opportunities. When dads are more engaged in everyday parenting and domestic duties, they often become more nurturing parents, and they add new positive layers to the example they’re setting for their kids about what a man is and does.
According to Yale child psychologist and fathering advocate Dr. Kyle Pruett, those dads are also likely to develop more compassion for the work their wives have been doing every day, and they’re almost sure to see new sides of their kids, so their fathering insights just might skyrocket. Then there are benefits to the marriage relationship. More involved fathers become more open emotionally, which makes them more interesting and attractive to their wives.
If wives and moms are reading along at this point, that’s great, because they play a key role in helping dads make the most of these kinds of opportunities. Often, it’s tough for a mom to be fully supportive if her husband doesn’t do things in and around the home the same way she does — and dads doing things differently is pretty much a certainty. Dr. Pruett lists some dangers of this, and these are true to a degree even if the dad isn’t a full-time caregiver for a season.
If a mom is somewhat critical or she undermines the dad’s efforts, he might disengage as a father and leave her with more responsibilities. He might disengage as a husband also. And, the children will notice. They may have less respect for Mom and more sympathy for Dad.
All of this reinforces that, for couples, parenting is a partnership. We all need to keep an open dialogue about parenting and household responsibilities, and give each other a lot of grace. When times are hard and life gets stressful, working together as a team makes a big difference.
- Make the most of whatever time you have as a dad. As the school year comes to an end, add an activity with each of your kids to help him build a skill or learn something new.
- Have you been forced to reevaluate your career aspirations? Utilize that time to also look at your fathering habits.
- Explain to your kids the reasons behind any necessary lifestyle changes. Teach them about income, expenses, budgeting and other money-related principles.
- Talk with your child’s mom about ways you can improve your teamwork as parents. Ask her, “How can I better assist and support you as a mom?”