The Uninvolved Parent

I realize that most people in today’s modern world are simply looking for a quick fix for each problem as it comes up as opposed to the more in depth problem solving that takes hard work, learning and true understanding to help avoid the problem from continually recurring in the future.We have passed out of the Age of Aquarias and entered into the “Age of Google.”

Accordingly I’ve posted the solution to the problem right at the top and then past the read more, the whole theory behind the problem under that. You can take the swift approach or you can struggle through the equivalent of 8 Facebook posts to get a better understanding of the problem itself.

I’m not judging or trying to be preachy. Really I’m not. I just know that while this might help solve today’s problem, understanding more about the problem itself might just save your marriage. That being said here goes:

HOW TO SOLVE THE “WHO DOES WHAT” DILLEMA

The basic problem in what most perceive as “uninvolved parenthood” is simply lack of laid out agreements between both parents. One parent might be completely content doing all the parental work providing that they get one day a month in a full luxurious day spa and a trip to Rodeo Drive. The other parent might be blissfully happy simply writing the checks every month and not having to change a single diaper.

While I think both of the above are being denied the depth of character and the true value of the life changing experience that parenthood actually is, who am I to judge? If that’s what happiness it is to certain people then you know what I say? Let them be happy.

But if suddenly that check isn’t written and that day-spa trip has to be cancelled and then someone has to change a diaper that wasn’t expected, then friction enters into the equation. But you know what? No matter how perfectly people think they have it planned, it is going to happen. Why? Because that’s how life works: unpredictably, with fevers that don’t fit into your monthly schedules and temper tantrums that weren’t on the daily planner.

Life challenges you and forces you to either grow or perish. And parenthood for some is the raw essence of life itself.

So how to avoid the unpleasantness and friction? Settle the agreements. You know “if blah happens so and so does blah.”

Ideally do it before you have the child. Because once you do, there is no going back. And if you won’t provide for that child, they will either die or wind up with real parents leaving you behind with the label of a “biological” one. Being a biological parent doesn’t make you a father or a mother. Even gods have to earn that right, and when they don’t, their children suffer and then eventually even the gods do.

To quote one of the most brilliant lines ever written in a screenplay: “Mommy is name of God in the mind of a child.” But so is father.

So what do you do? Sit down with your partner (ideally before you decide to conceive, but if it’s too late for that, it’s never too late to set things right.) and write out the following:

FOR THE 6 MONTHS FOLLOWING BIRTH:

1. If Mommy has Cesaeraen birth, who is going to help change the diapers and give baths and help feed the baby for the 2-3 weeks while mommy gains full mobility? (Daddy? Nanny? Grandma?)

2. Who is going to wash the bottles? All the time? Or just once a day? Or once a week? What? (If you buy 6 bottles they will need to be washed and sterilized once a day, less if the mother can regularly breastfeed)

3. Who is going to change the diapers? All the time? Most of the time? (Expect up to 8 diaper changes a day until they hit 6 months old. If you change less than they need they will get bad rashes and generally make life miserable because you were to lazy to do the work to change the diapers regularly. And just because life is like that, even if you do change the diaper often enough, they will also get rashes when you change the diapers enough anyways)

4. Who is going to wash the baby? All the time? Most of the time? Some of the time? 1 time a week? 3 times a week? (They will need at least one bath a day although if they don’t puke or pee or poop on themselves sometimes you can get away with a 48 hour gap)

5. Who is going to feed the baby? All the time? Most of the time? Some of the time? (They will need to be fed every 2-3 hours on an average for at least 90 days and possibly up to 180 days)

6. Who is going to feed the baby when they wake up 2-3 times a night? Are you going to trade from one day to the next? Do the parents have maternity leave to be able to deal with the exhaustion or can one stay at home while the other goes to work? If the partner who has to go to work can’t sleep and therefore can’t work, how are you going to solve this?

7. Who is going to get the baby ready for bed?

8. Who is going to read the baby bedtime stories?

9. What do you do when one parent is sick?

10. What do you do when the baby is sick?

11. What do you do when everyone is sick?

12. Who is going to take the baby for stroller walks?

13. Who is going to take the baby for walks in the park?

14. Who is going to do the grocery shopping?

15. Who is going to do the shopping for the clothes and accessories?

16. If both parents are going to work, who is going to care for the baby?

17. What is the agreed “girl time” for mom to relax and hang out with friends and take a short breather?

18. What is the agreed “guy’s time” for dad to relax and hang out with friends and take a short breather?

19. What are both parents going to do about “hobbies” they had prior to parenthood (because you can for the most part just kiss those goodbye. Seriously, donate that X-Box or playstation to your favorite family member.)

20. Who is going to look after baby when mom and dad need some “together time” because you HAVE TO HAVE THAT or you will burn out before the race is even really going. (Nanny? Grandma? Sister?)

21. DISCLAIMER CLAUSE: BOTH PARENTS MUST AGREE TO REVISIT THESE AGREEMENTS FROM TIME TO TIME TO ADJUST THEM BASED OFF THINGS THAT THEY HAVE LEARNED.

And pretty much anything else you can think of that might become a problem. You need to talk about it before it becomes one, or if it already is one, you need to talk it over until you reach a mutual agreement. And if you can’t reach a mutual agreement then realize you’ve hit a point of cancer that will eventually destroy not only the parent’s happiness, but the child’s as well.

You are entering into a life-long contract with a child, and often you enter into it unknowingly in a head first screaming dive off the side of a cliff with an undersized parachute strapped to your back. That again, is life.

And if you can learn how to deal with it, you can learn how to truly enjoy it. And if you think that was too long for your taste or cut a bit close to the bone, then don’t even bother clicking “read more.” But I do hope that helps and wish you the best of luck in enjoying the full depth and breadth of parenthood.

READ MORE

More

Advertisements

When is the right time for a second child?

When is the right time for a second child?

I haven’t really stated it openly on my blog other than posting a gender test, but its now official, my wife and I went to the Ob-gyn and we are expecting a second child in October.

Honestly, despite the nerve wracking, life bending, reality changing experience of becoming a parent for the first time I wanted to have a second child right away when our daughter was born in 2009.

My wife however, was still a bit gun-shy from the first go around and so I asked myself the question “When is the right time for a second child?” and after thinking about it over and over I finally came up with an answer that is probably the best one that I can think of: “When the mother is ready and wants a second child.”

I mean lets face it, as fathers and men we do share a large portion of the burden of raising a child, but the truth is that we don’t have to go through even a fraction of what the mother must go through physically (and to some degree mentally) to bring a child into the world.

To see your child born is a humbling experience and is one which I feel should always create a bond of strong respect of the father for the mother. No matter what else may come between them in later years, no matter what fights may ensue or whatever, a father should never forget how indebted he is to the mother for bring their child into the world.

I certainly feel that way at least.

Anyways, it’s going to be a two year difference between our children which is just on the border of being “age-seperated” but actually should work great. So far everything points to it being a boy which I am totally stoked about, however, we’ll get 100% confirmation in 4 more weeks.

And while I have friends with 3, 4, 5 and even 6 kids, this will be our final child. Two is certainly enough for the both of us.

I’m curious if anyone else has a different take on when it is the right time to have a second child?

Why marriages die…

I disagree with @GoodMenProject on this one…

“Dreams are the blood sacrifices every successful marriage must make.” @Profbarr How It Might Have Been – http://bit.ly/gJUqk7

“Dreams are the blood sacrifices every successful marriage must make.”

Bullshit.

I’m sorry. But that attitude right there is the one that probably kills more marriages than any of us can count.

Look the article is beautifully written. Even I can admire the construction of the English and the pacing and even the story. In some ways it is quite touching and certainly expresses how many of us who have been divorced feel from time to time. It is very human in so many ways and I truly enjoyed every layer of it.

But that one must sacrifice dreams to have a successful marriage is only seeking to find an excuse for failure in the face of having a lack of courage to do what must be done to succeed.

To me accomplished dreams are made up of many of the same elements of a successful marriage:

1. Courage

2. Persistence

3. Being able to work hard

4. Being able to learn from one’s mistakes AND CHANGE

5. Never giving up

A truly successful and happy marriage is often only so to the degree that both partners help each other and their children reach for their dreams whatever they may be and never letting up.

My wife has always dreamed of being a designer but has been in job after job of business administration. Two weeks ago, despite our family being heavily in debt, I saw that my wife simply wasn’t happy.

I had been so thankful for the last three months that she had landed her job and was pulling in vitally needed extra cash that was helping us with the groceries and putting our daughter in a good pre-school.

But then I realized to certain degree that this was extremely shallow of me. So I did the craziest thing I could possibly think of. I took on even more work, took out a loan and put my wife in a local design school and paid for her classes through having an advanced diploma in graphic design.

When I married my wife five years ago, I promised her that I would help her achieve her goals and her dreams. Because I knew that only when one moves towards one’s own goals is one truly happy.

Are both of us suffering because we don’t have that extra money? Yes. Are we happier? Yes.

Never let anyone say “Now that I am married” or “Now that I have children” “I have to give up on my dreams.”

Pushing them. Helping them find a way towards those dreams. Making them work harder for those dreams and not letting them waste away in front of a tv or on stupid things that suck up one’s time but don’t have diddly to do with achieving one’s goals…that’s what a successful marriage and relationship is all about.

Sorry Prof. I disagree with you on that point very strongly. But I loved your article.

Stay at Home Dads

The Good Men Project and SAHDs

If you haven’t seen the good men project you should google it. It often has interesting articles but like any publication, it does attempt to stir the pot of controversy. Nothing wrong with that. It is about creating conversations and raising awareness.

So long as what’s important doesn’t get lost in and amongst the dissenting opinions, I consider that valuable conversation.

They just did a piece on stay at home dads.

http://goodmenproject.com/good-is-good/are-stay-at-home-dads-macho

My thoughts?

The roles in our family constantly shift to deal with the pressures of modern living. I’m not usually a stay at home dad, but I have played that role often enough to know how to do it in the blink of a lost paycheck.

While I enjoy some of Tom and Laura’s points in the article, the truth is that macho is an over-rated and rapidly antiquating word that has NOTHING to do with whether one is a stay at home dad or not. It simply isn’t as important a word or quality as it once was. You want to know a more important quality in today’s day and age? How about “effective.”

Would you rather have a macho boss or co-worker? Or an effective one?

Bringing the subject up like this simply stirs the pot (and controversy) on rapidly-dying stereotypes of “marital roles.”

Nowadays, every relationship has to accurately assess the needs of the relationship and examine the resources in determining who in that relationship is best suited for supplying these needs and adjust as needed to ensure the family unit survives as best as possible. A family that can do that will usually thrive even under extremely adverse conditions.

If you look at the flip-side of it, belittling the role of a stay at home dad is also a subtly negative comment on stay at home mothers. That somehow it isn’t “real work.”

Women who trivialize stay at home dads either have never raised children or for some bizarre reason would place having a “macho” partner above having one who was:

1. Honorable
2. Courageous
3. Dependable
4. Loving
(And there are plenty of “macho” men who also have these qualities)

I think the greatest worry or controversy can come about when other men, ignorant men, trivialize men who are the primary caregivers as opposed to primary breadwinners. And the solution is simple. Stick them in a house with a newborn child (or two) of their own for two weeks with a mother who is off at a “job” all day and see how that man views it after two weeks. In 99% of all cases, humility will have lead to wisdom in recognizing that it is simply about doing what needs to be done and it is WORK.

Exhausting, often thankless, work that not only do more men do on an increasingly greater basis, but that so many mothers do day in and day out that almost all of society takes for granted.

The bottom line: The days of having the strongest hunter for a family to survive are over. We are in the new age where the most EFFECTIVE families survive.

It is an age that I, for one prefer.

Does it get any better than being a parent with a beautiful child?

Until last night…

Until last night I just thought it couldn’t get better.

Don’t get me wrong. Parenthood is exhausting. It constantly pushes you to spend money you don’t have. It brings you to the breaking point on a daily/weekly basis. Your sex life…what? Your sleep patterns…don’t worry about that because there will be nothing to pattern anymore. Your eardrums will bleed from the baby screaming in your ear. And on and on.

But it all pales in comparison to the sheer joy of being called “papa” or seeing your kid’s face light up as she sprints towards you when you walk into your home. These and a million other little things keep life in balance in the otherwise exhausting and often seemingly thankless job of being a parent.

But sometimes when your baby is sleeping in your arms you say to yourself “Does it get better than this?”

From what I got told last night, apparently so…stay tuned…

 

UPDATED: Our second child is on the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Parenthood begins

Parenthood begins

With the unshakable belief that you have the most beautiful child in the world. And then you go to a park and see just how many beautiful children there are and then you realize there is hope for the human race and our future.

Why men hate romantic movies…

Why men hate romantic movies…

It’s not because they are overly sappy or anything of the sort. It is simply because of the expectations they create.

99.9% of all men cannot compete with a Hollywood props department that has 400 different flavored candles, ten baskets of rose petals and twenty yards of satin in their budget or a writer who gets paid six figures to dream up the perfect dialogue.

And if some of us can manage that, I guarantee you that there is not a single one of us alive that can do it 3-4 times in different settings within a two hour period.

That being said, I have to admit that I greatly enjoy them because I am often astounded by just how GOOD they are in terms of their production values and writing. But I also know when my wife starts getting unhappy about a lot of small things that I either need to cut the romantic comedies out of her diet or become Superhusband for a few days. Or both.

Previous Older Entries