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.
A few weeks ago as I was getting ready for work, I heard my 13 month-old son Jack screaming as my wife was understandably frustrated; she was trying to put a new diaper on him as he violently resisted on his bedroom floor.
If there were such a thing as “negative energy” glasses and I was wearing them that day, I would have been able to see little neon lighting bolts shooting out from his waving arms and legs and red spring-shaped lasers beaming from his mouth and eyes as he lay down “pitching a fit.”
I walked into the room and kneeled down, placing my right hand firmly on his chest and told him in a calm yet assertive voice: “Jack, you’re going to calm down. We’re going to put a diaper on you now. Relax, it’s okay.”
He instantly got quiet. No more crying; no more squirming. No more lightning bolts or lasers. All clear.
It wasn’t a coincidence he responded that way. Cesar Milan teaches pet owners to “be the pack leader,” using “calm-assertive energy” instead of simply mirroring the chaos. I realize Cesar Milan is known as “The Dog Whisperer” but I tell ya, his tricks seem to work for a 13 month-old toddler as well.
Discipline is so much more than simply punishing a child for their wrongdoing. I say more than anything, disciplining a child is the behavior training that prevents a kid from thinking they are the one in charge.
Am I letting my power of the role as “the calm-assertive pack leader” go to my head? Probably, but this whole Cesar Milan thing really works.
Honestly, it feels good as the dad to have another solid role in parenting. One of the most challenging things as a dad has been the fact that I have often not known instinctively want to do.
For over a year, I have had to ask my wife how to do… onnearly everything when it comes to raising a baby. I can learn, sure. But I wasn’t really, by default, in charge of anything. I like being in charge every once in a while.
It’s becoming pretty clear to me that I am getting to become much more active in my role as the calm-assertive pack leader. Seriously, now my wife asks me to rock Jack to sleep for his naps because I am effective thanks to the strong yet positive vibes he picks up from me.
I knew all this testosterone had to be good for somethin’.
In this unofficial post (I’ve already published my maximum of 25 posts this month), I am taking a moment amidst the hustle and bustle of Halloween to remember what all has gone on as Jack has turned eleven months old.
1. Our move back into our townhouse was delayed by nearly three weeks, as we discovered the ceiling of our living room had nearly caved in due to a water leak upstairs in the bathroom.
Last week on Facebook I kept seeing daily updates from an expecting first-time mom who mentioned how excited she was to finally meet her son.
It took me back to a year ago here on The Dadabase (I’ve been daddy blogging since April 2010, six months before he was born) when I was the one anxiously wondering what my son would end up looking like and acting like.
Like popping a quarter into the machine of Made in China toys and waiting for a fun surprise, so I waited for who I thought would be a little dark complected boy.
Now here I am a year later, with a blonde son who is experimenting with the idea of standing and walking on his own, literally applauding himself every time he makes it a few steps.
We live in a world where surprises are often hard to come by. If I want to know the population of Chandler, Arizona, it takes less than 7 seconds to find out on Wikipedia. No anticipation. Instead, instant gratification.
But having a kid is an exception to that rule. Parenting is a moving target and kids are constantly growing up and changing. Therefore, my son is a daily surprise to me. I never know what new thing he may do to catch me off guard- and I mean that mainly in good ways.
Will he finally begin walking today?
Will he discover a new body part today? (Yes, that is how I mean it.)
Will he fight back the boy who hit him by elbowing him nice and hard? (He did last week. I’m so proud of my boy for sticking up for himself.)
How will he make me laugh today? What random household item will become his newest toy?
I’ve been a lot of things since my son arrived, but one thing I’ve yet to be is bored.