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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Dads Helping With Kids, Conflicts Rise With Moms

Health and Science for Sunday 020611

Hey folks,

I can attest to this COMPLETELY! Me and my Wife are a team. My Job, as Dad, is to teach my Sons to be real Men. This is not something my Wife can do. She just can't. Just like I'm not as nurturing as she is. Yet my role is clear. I'm Daddy Lion. My job is to raise little Lions to be big Lions.

Now the differences are pretty universal with few exceptions. Josh wants to jump in a puddle, Mom says "No. You'll get dirty, ruin your shoes, get some disease that is lurking in the waters, ETC" Dad says, "Go for it. Dirt washes off. If we have to, will buy new shoes, I did it when I was a kid, I'm still here." Six foot tall wall? Mom "STAY OFF IT!" Dad? "Try to walk across it. Jump." Mom, "It's cold outside, bundle up." Dad "Are you cold? No? K."

Moms, WORRY about just about everything. Dads couldn't care less about the little things. We care that they are running in front of Traffic, Talking to Strangers outside our reach, and if they are in immediate danger that could cause death or long term disability. Short of that, GO FOR IT. Forget your "Appetite." You want Ice Cream after School? {So do I} Let's go get some.

But what we are learning is the fact that these differences begin at the BIRTH of our Children. According to Time - Dad Helping with the Kids? Moms: Expect Conflict, Not Cooperation By BONNIE ROCHMAN Bonnie Rochman – Wed Feb 2, 12:55 pm ET
We women talk a good game about wanting our partners to step up and parent alongside us - to change diapers, cut off crusts for pint-size picky eaters, handle the bedtime routine - but a new study has found that when dads do that, it doesn't necessarily spark domestic bliss.

Rather, it inspires conflict, with Mom and Dad sniping at each other over how best to handle a task, according to a Ohio State study published in the journal Developmental Psychology last month.

Researchers looked at 112 Midwestern families with preschool-age kids when the children were 4 and again a year later. Here's the good news: when fathers were more involved in playing with their children - think Legos and playing chase - the quality of the co-parenting relationship between the parents was warmer and cooperative with fewer disagreements.

But when dads reported more frequent involvement in caregiving - supervising baths, helping kids brush their teeth, preparing meals - the parents' relationship a year after the first assessment was not as good. They were more likely to undermine each other's parenting edicts and more apt to engage in verbal tug-of-war, with Dad saying, Let's do it this way, and Mom saying, Let's not.
We are there. {Laughing} By the way I see it. Joshua, now 5 years old, is doing just find. I'll tell you a cute story in a few. Eli, now 13 days old, is doing just find. Stop worrying about EVERYTHING.
Researchers know this because they videotaped parents in a lab where they were asked to build a Lincoln Logs structure and draw a family portrait with their partner and child.

Are moms power-hungry? Or are they just stuck in their ways, which for ages have placed the mother at the center of the home, as the primary caregiver and molder of children?

"So many couples say they really want to share parenting equally, but it doesn't happen," says Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University. "For many couples, the reality doesn't match up to their expectations."
Meaning Dads do not become Moms. That's the truth folks. Moms want Dads to become THEM. Do everything THEIR way. Dads are different. We just are. We think different. We see things different. We act different. But we want the same things for our kids. The VERY Best.
Of course, shared parenting might not be for everyone. But it would be helpful for parents to discuss child-rearing approaches before baby arrives on the scene. What might help is basic parenting education, suggests Schoppe-Sullivan. It is pretty strange that there's no training required to be a mom or dad. Considering that having a baby rocks a couple's world in ways both good and bad, it might be a wise idea for expectant parents to undergo pre-parental counseling and learn how to sidestep potential pitfalls.

Researchers did not attempt to draw conclusions about any effect on the children of their parents' less-than-harmonious behavior, though it is worth noting that previous research by Schoppe-Sullivan found that co-parenting difficulties can eventually lead to marital dissatisfaction, which can lead to divorce. In other words, disagreement over parenting philosophies and duties is "more than just an annoyance," says Schoppe-Sullivan. "It's a big deal."

"It's hard to break out of more traditional gender roles," she says. "When you have two parents highly invested in caregiving, there's an opportunity to step on each other's toes."
If someone lets the little differences of Parenting cause them to Divorce, I assure you, there are FAR deeper problems. Like one not wanting to be a Parent to begin with. No real Love. Something far deeper than just disagreement on Child Raising.
Maybe some mothers are not completely comfortable with fathers being involved with the nitty-gritty of child care. Maybe some fathers resent having to wipe tushies and fold onesies. And maybe we're in this position in the first place because we have no real role models. Since moms have historically ruled the roost, this is the first generation where women commonly expect men to help raise baby.

In The New York Times, Amy and Marc Vachon, who espouse equally shared parenting so vociferously that they wrote a book about it, point out that:

Task sharing is, in fact, a mere sliver of the greater goal of equality between two parents and a balanced life for each partner - something that must also include a vital but little discussed element: power-sharing. Sharing the vomit-cleaning and toilet-training duties while sticking with a mom-knows-best stance can lead to boss-subordinate dissatisfaction.

But who says you have to equally share all the parenting duties? I do the laundry; my husband more often presides over bathtime. I am the homework guru; he packs the lunches. Recently, after bemoaning the difficulty of getting dinner ready for our brood, we worked together to devise a menu plan so that we could make sure we had the necessary ingredients on-hand before the daily witching hour - which coincidentally leads right up to dinnertime - chimes. Monday night was quesadillas: he made sure we had black beans on hand and chopped up the kale ahead of time; I sauteed the aforementioned greens, cooked the squash and slapped the quesadillas together. If we tried to share everything equally, it would never work - at least for us.

That said, it still falls to me, as the work-from-home parent, to shuffle my schedule when a child gets sick, or snow falls, or the kids are released early, as they will be today. It makes my life infinitely more complicated and considerably more exhausting, but it also allows me to be the one who's home to smile at my daughter's squeals of excitement as she greets the American Girl doll that arrived for her birthday.

Alpha mom? Guilty as charged. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
Now I'll leave the obvious alone here. I would love to comment on some OBVIOUS problems that these two face. She is a Lib, and he is Whipped. But if that works for them? Hey, GREAT. She is a stay at home Mom, yet requires HIM to come home and cook as long as the ingre,,,you know, like I said, if it works for them.

Now just the other day, me and Josh were having a Father and Son Day. We were off on a little adventure. We were under a Bridge, on the bank of a River. The next thing I hear is Kasplash. I look over and Josh went head first into the River. I said to myself, "Oh F---" took my cell phone off, and prepared to jump in, when Josh paddled up to the bank and pulled himself out. Standing there, DRIPPING, covered in Mud, looking down at himself, I was waiting to see him cry. Relieved of course he was safe and I was still dry. He said "Oh my. Mommy would be REALLY Mad." Then started laughing. I couldn't STOP Laughing. "Your Right about that Son." Life Lesson folks. No harm no foul. Cloths can be clean. And Josh will be more careful next time. Mom? I would be cleaning cloths for two, then trying to mediate Josh's Punishment, when I feel none was needed.

The differences are aways present. But I think, no I'm confident, that if you were to ask Laura if she preferred the help I contribute, or would rather I bow out, she would tell you she is VERY Thankful for the Help. As a matter of fact. Eli is sitting here next to me right now, while she is sleeping.

I think the real key to Parenting Harmony is let Moms be Moms, and Dads be who they NEED to be, the King Lion. Just go with it, and worry less. The Kids benefit GREATLY from Parents to know their roles and let the other know theirs.
Peter

Sources:
Time - Dad Helping with the Kids? Moms: Expect Conflict, Not Cooperation

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