Dadvice #1: Why Doesn’t My Husband Help More With Baby and Chores?
New dads are much more helpful when they are properly prepared, positively motivated, and publicly praised. Otherwise, expect frustration.
This week I received this email asking for my “Dadvice“:
Ok….so you said you can tell me why new dad (15 week baby boy) is so easily frustrated and why I feel like he isn’t helping with baby or house work enough and how to improve it if possible!
> Love your facebook!”
I’ve got some good news here- I’m pretty sure I can help. After all, it was only about a year ago that my son was 15 weeks old… now he’s 15 months. That “new dad” was me about a year ago.
There’s this popular belief that men have sensitive egos. Miranda Lambert even references this in the first line of her hit, “Baggage Claim.”
Well, the stereotype is true and, as a dad, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I figure I must be wired that way for a reason. So I say, be the one to build up a man up he’s sure to show his appreciation for it.
But how? Three easy steps:
1) Properly prepare him. Think of your man as a soldier trying to prepare for battle. He wants to know what his expectations are, but if he feels ambushed, he will deem himself defeated and start to retreat or shut down
I know, parenting is by nature, full of surprises. But let new dad know what his tasks are. I recommend writing them down for him in a list; that way, he can memorize them and even mentally check them off in his head as he does them.
So ask yourself, what things can your husband do each day that if you knew they were taken care of, you can handle the rest on your own decently?
Here’s a secret: he likes feeling/being in charge of stuff. So put him in charge; make him Captain Diaper Changer, Boss Bathroom Cleaner, and Lord of the Laundry.
2) Positively motivate him. To speak positively is to speak clearly. Avoid using the words “that” and “those” and instead be very specific; telling him the color, shape, size, and exact location of whatever it is you need him to go get from the nursery or kitchen or diaper bag for you.
Remember, your man already has a secret “dad complex” that he doesn’t know how to be as good of a parent as you the mom naturally are. He’s already paying the “dad tax” in his mind.
So when he does anything right when helping you, make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed. By saying, “I like it that you are able to distract him while I can take a long hot shower.”
The things you praise are the things he will be the best at. The things you “nag” him about will be the things he is the worst at.
Yes, you have that kind of power over him. No exaggeration.
3) Publicly praise him. Yeah, I know- I just finished talking about the need to praise your hubby privately. Well, it’s just as important to do it in front of other people.
You may think it’s cute to tease him about his petty shortcomings as a new dad; especially in the presence of friends or family.
Now he may not let you in on this fact, but there’s a good chance that your innocent playfulness is tearing him down inside. Because honestly, it’s pretty emasculating as a man to admit that your “feelings were hurt” because your wife made fun of your lack of parental competency.
So that’s my initial “dadvice” on this subject. Sure, there’s a lot more to it, but if you can prepare, motivate, and praise “new dad,” you will be able to get him in a position where he wants to help you.
And having a man who wants to help you means having a man who does help you. Because he knows you’ll brag to your friends about it.
Would you like to ask me for “dadvice” to be featured here on The Dadabase?
Just shoot me an email to nickshell1983@hotmail with the word “dadvice” in the subject line so I’ll know it’s not spam. Even if I decide not to use your question as part of my Dadvice franchise, I’ll still at least privately answer you; whether you’re a mom or dad.
Top image: Young new dad, via Shutterstock.
Bottom image: Young man unhappy with washing machine, via Shutterstock.