How can I encourage my husband to be a more involved parent?
Parenting and managing household tasks are difficult, especially when the work isn’t shared equally among partners. CareNectar expert Martha Tyler shares guidance on how to encourage your partner to be a more involved parent.
My husband and I both work outside of the home. While he works more hours than I do, he expects me to do the majority of the household tasks. And whenever I do ask him to help out, he sometimes does but never without complaining. As it relates to our children, he’s not as engaged as I hoped he’d be. He is often caught up in his own things and seems very disinterested in what they are doing. To his credit, when he does spend time with the kids, he’s great—but I wish he’d spend more time. And I can tell they want to spend more time with him as well. I’ve tried talking with my husband, and he says he’ll do better but doesn’t follow through. Any suggestions?
This is so hard! I can understand how very difficult and emotionally draining it can be to try to convince someone to show that they care. And I’m sure you know that your husband does care, probably very deeply.
There is a lot of pressure on men to provide for their families and sometimes that means they get so focused on providing that they forget money isn’t the only way of providing for a family. There’s also the fact that he has probably had less practice in his life with care tasks. While none of this is an excuse, keeping some of the cultural factors in mind may help you offer some grace around his learning curve for these next steps.
Here are a few ideas for concrete ways to hold your husband accountable when he says that he’ll do better.
- Have family meetings. Weekly family meetings do not have to be long, but they can help bring a lot of these issues to the attention of all members of your family. Encourage your children to bring concerns to the family meetings too. It’s an assigned time to work together as a team to solve family issues. Plan something fun for right after the meeting too! Maybe have a family dance party, watch a movie together, or go out for ice cream! Be sure to put this on his calendar.
- Encourage him to choose one activity with each child. Having one activity like soccer or swimming with each child will give your husband some one-on-one bonding time with each child. It’s hard for him to keep up with everything going on in your children’s lives when he’s not spending as much time with him. But by scheduling a weekly activity with him and each child, he can give dedicated time to focus on them as individuals.
- The rest should be equal. So many couples struggle because one partner thinks they work harder or longer hours at their job so they can take on fewer care tasks in the home. When we try to calculate how many hours each person in a couple works, care tasks like cleaning and cooking and taking care of the children aren’t usually counted in that tally. Or, they aren’t counted correctly. I encourage couples to not tally the work, but look at how much time each person has to rest. If you, as the mom, never get a break from care tasks and your husband has the weekend off to relax, that’s not fair. When we look at how much time someone has to rest, that’s a much more manageable way to keep track. If your amount of time to rest isn’t equal, I would schedule a time to sit down with your husband and say, “I am struggling because right now I do not have any time to rest or refuel. How can we work together to make sure we are both getting the same amount of time off?”
This is a very hard situation and I hope these ideas help your husband understand that you need him at home just as much as they need him in the office.
We’re here for you, cheering you on!
Meet The Expert
Martha has her Masters in Education and is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She has worked as a sitter, nanny, tutor, or teaching artist over the past 20+ years. In addition, Martha has hosted a child care podcast, Chronicles of Nannya, for several years. She is also the co-founder of Compassionate Childcare LLC and is thrilled to be able to share her experience, knowledge, and resources with CareNectar!