by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.
I’m a better father because of my wife, Dee. And, you can be a better father because of your wife.
Many years back, when Dee and I were living in Vancouver, British Columbia, we were walking along the hills by the shore with our two daughters, Hannah and Sarah. Dee was pregnant with Joel, our third child, and I was pulling the two little girls along in their red wagon. The air was fresh. I remember bouncing up on my toes and swinging my free arm out to my side.
As we came to the crest of a long hill, I was overtaken with exuberance. I hopped into the wagon behind Hannah and Sarah, grabbed the black steel handle, and with several powerful kicks sent us careening down the sidewalk. What adventure! I was whooping and laughing, the girls were cheering me on, and we must have reached speeds up to 20 mph before the terrain leveled out and we coasted to a halt.
When my pregnant wife ambled down to where we were waiting, I knew something was wrong. Dee recounted our wild wagon ride back to me and pointed out that I had really put the girls in a situation which was potentially very dangerous. She told me how she felt, but God bless her, she did it in love and we talked it through calmly.
Her gentle perspective helped me as a father on two levels. First, with a lesson in common-sense safety. But she also opened my eyes to an even greater lesson: for the first time in my fathering I was able to see the connection between my past (how I was fathered) and my present (how I father). I wanted to be a free-spirited, exciting dad because my father had not been.
I have not endured childbirth, but I’ve had five “close encounters” with it. Although I was there—and as active as I could be—the birth process was, of course, left up to Dee. Recognizing that, I have come to believe that by virtue of carrying and bearing our children, my wife can see things in them and about them that I tend to miss completely.
The same goes for your wife. Dad, if you want to be a better father, you need to listen to her. Ask your wife how you can be a better dad.