Parts of this article appeared in a Deseret News column by the Eyres. It has been republished here with permission.
If you are a married mom, chances are that what you really want for Mother's Day is for your husband to be more involved with your kids - to prioritize parenting a little higher - to be more of a full partner with you in raising your children.
Sure, there are involved fathers who don't need any encouragement getting them to prioritize their children or to be "equally yoked" with their wife in a parenting partnership. But to be blunt, most dads are not as involved as moms wish they were, and sometimes it is just because they don't know how to be, or don't have a clear plan or strategy.
Moaning or groaning and pleading with your husband to take greater interest in or get more involved rarely works; in fact, it may drive you apart. But when we focus on the specifics that dads are usually both interested in and good at, positive things start to happen. Here are three proven ways to get that man of yours more meaningfully involved with your kids:
1. Make him the banker
Put him in charge of your system for your kids' money. Whether you do an allowance or (better yet) have some kind of "family economy" where children get paid for certain household responsibilities, have their dad be the banker, the paymaster, the financial advisor. When a dad takes on this task, he thinks more about the kids, about what motivates them, about teaching them to be disciplined, to budget, to save, to understand delayed gratification.
2. Hold a monthly five-facet review
Dads are usually good problem solvers, but first they have to identify and understand the problem! Schedule a special "date" once a month where just the two of you go out to dinner together and spend the whole evening focused on your children. Call it a "five-facet review" and go through each of your children, one by one, asking, "How is he/she doing physically?" "How is he doing mentally? Emotionally? Socially? Spiritually?" As you talk about your children and identify their specific potential and problems, Dad will feel more invested and will get more involved.
3. Schedule Daddy dates
Calendar Dad for one "daddy date" with each child each month. If you have several children, he can do two or three of these dates in one evening. Let kids pick where they want to go within certain parameters and give your husband the insight of spending an hour or so with just one child. Remember that relationships develop not in groups, but one-on-one.
And if you are a single mom, similar practices can be developed with a grandfather or an uncle, or another man who is willing to be a positive male influence in the life of your child.
Is it worth the trouble to try to implement things like this? Is it worth the effort to convince your husband that he should do these three things? Absolutely! It is good for both your children AND your husband!
There is no shortage of evidence that kids who have the active, mindful involvement of both a mom and a dad do better and adjust better on a number of levels. And dads who are more involved with their children develop into more sensitive, more patient and more fulfilled men.
Specifically, there are three big reasons why you should do all you can to get your husband more involved with your kids:
1. It will give your children added security and perspective
Your children will begin to develop an added sense of being in a unified family - not perfect, but unified. The unique relationship that dads can have with sons, and the equally unique relationships dads can have with their daughters, needs to be treasured and maximized!
2. It will draw you closer and make you more in love as a couple
The old adage that the best way to get close to someone is to have a common goal or purpose is absolutely true in this context. You may have separate jobs and separate interests, but when you team up to figure out what your kids need, and when you meet those needs as a partnership, working synergistically, the byproduct is that you draw closer to each other and love each other more.
3. It will make your husband a better man
Dads who connect to their kids and who are truly involved in raising them tend to become more domesticated in all the best ways. Quality time with children makes men happier, more spontaneous, more patient and more prioritized. Men become "gentle-men" by spending more time with their kids!
Maybe the biggest reason, however, to get Dad more involved is to prevent future regrets. As we speak to business and professional groups of older men, we find so many saying how much they wish they had devoted themselves and their time more generously to their kids while those kids were still in their home. Remember this: No one on his deathbed ever says "Oh, I wish I'd spent more time with the business."