Is Your Husband a Lazy Parent?

Advice for a mom who wants her husband to spend quality time with their daughter, without watching sports.

Q: My husband hangs out with our baby for a few hours on the weekend while I run errands. Here's the problem: Our daughter is always in the swing when I get home, and my husband's on the couch watching sports. This drives me nuts. He claims they play, she gets fussy, so he puts her in the swing. But from the looks of her sleepy face, my guess is she's been in there for a while. I want my husband to spend time with our daughter, but not TV time.

Unless you plan on nanny-camming your man (an idea that wouldn't make the top-10 list of good-marriage tips), you have to trust him. Tell him your concerns, then believe what he says. (If you don't, that's a whole other issue you'll have to work through.) Isn't it possible you walk in right after a massive play session that exhausted both daddy and daughter? A little downtime for everyone after an hour or so of cooing, singing, and knocking down block towers isn't such a bad thing.

If you're convinced there's more swing time than playing going on, try offering suggestions in a noncondescending tone. For example, you might say, "Here are some of her favorite toys we haven't had a chance to play with this week." If it's a nice day, suggest that it would be great to go for a walk so the baby could get some fresh air.

But don't make impossible demands on your man. If he feels like you're running a baby boot camp with firm rules and no rest for the weary, he may start dreading alone time with your daughter, and then everyone loses. After all, a good weekend should allow for Dad to enjoy the baby and relax, while Mom grabs a cup of coffee with a friend or runs errands at the speed of light (without lugging baby and stroller in and out of every store).

Julie Mazer, a mother of three, lives in Short Hills, New Jersey.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, August 2004.