Lilly Baskers

In order to nurture his children in the best way possible, a man must look to God for the grace to attempt it and to himself for the devotion to persevere. His wife, too, is vital to the success of the fathering assignment.

But how can a woman help her husband be a good father without appearing to shame, manipulate, scold and hassle him?

She needs to realize that she is not responsible for making her husband a successful father. And she should not try to change him in any way. A wife is not in charge of her husband’s fathering, neither is she responsible for the children’s view of their dad. He is. A wife must never do a task for her husband that he is capable of doing for himself.

There are many ways a wife can help her husband be the best dad he can be:

*Give him due respect, consideration, and thoughtfulness. A wife’s love is the best thing a husband has going for him in the family. Love keeps her honest with him and enables her to hold him accountable for his actions. Love helps her understand and forgive him; it helps him to live fully and to realm the love in like measure to his wife and children.

*Treat him as an adult, not as one of the children. A woman can easily fall into the trap of acting like a mother to her husband, especially if he is acting like a child. To group him with the children, however, humiliates him and instigates resentment from both sides.

*Make sure that dad is involved in the total parenting picture. Some women encourage their husbands to provide for the family while they deal with the children. This may absolve dad of his parental responsibilities, but it also cheats him out of the pleasure of fathering.

*Stay clear of father/children disputes. A wife is not the mediator nor the children’s protector until behavior is abusive. Where there is disagreement about the discipline of children, the wife should talk to her husband in private about her concerns. A wife should not undermine her husband’s authority with the children by reversing his decisions ortelling them to discount what dad says.

*Dad is not “the big bad wolf.” Never try to control your children by threatening them with “wait until your father gets home”. Such fear of dad only makes the chasm between dad and his children wider. It is better for mom to deal with disciplinary problems as they arise and not wait for dad to deal with them later.

*Don’t keep important secrets from dad. While it is fun to surprise dad with a party or special gift never conspire with the children against him. The children quickly learn that dad is somehow being circumvented out of fear or disrespect This drives a wedge between wife and husband and between father and children, and serves to undercut his parental authority.

(The above material appeared in a June, 1991 issue of Marriage and Family.)

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