How hands on is your children’s dad?

Dec 3 • Featured • 788 Views • 15 Comments on How hands on is your children’s dad?

There's a brilliant new initiative at our local library called 'Dad's Rhyme Time'. Every Saturday fathers can take their toddlers along for a clapping and rhyming session (leaving the mums free to kick their heels around for an hour.) I was talking to a dad today who told me that one of his favourite things to do with his son at weekends is to go into the woods and pretend to look for bears. And I'm happy to say the Man of this particular House has always been brilliant at playing, reading stories, that kind of thing – better than me, really, because he's much more patient.

But I also know a few dads who seem to find it difficult just to sit down and play with their kids, or even, in one case, spend so much as an afternoon with them. It's as though they don't know how to relate to them. Instead they're authoritarian and strict – exactly the opposite of what their children need. I know of one father who refused to wheel his baby's buggy because it didn't look 'manly' enough. And one mum told me recently that her children are lucky if they get to see their father for more than a couple of hours a week because he's either at work or away or playing sport. 'They hardly know him,' she told me.

From the time we're pregnant, women are bombarded with information about parenting. Maybe it's that some men are unsure of how to behave with their kids. I'd love to know what you think.

written by Liz Jarvis


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15 Responses to How hands on is your children’s dad?

  1. Muummmeeeee! says:

    I know quite a few dads who definitely don’t spend enough time with their kids and it’s a shame because we only have a limited amount of years before our children will lose interest in spending time with us anyway. My husband plays football in the garden with Harry whenever the weather permits and will play with the kids on the Playstation but he’s always been bad at reading to them or playing board games! He works long hours and sees very little, if nothing, of them during the week and our weekends are now pretty much taken up with the kids’ activities so I fear he’s missed the boat!

  2. mizzpink says:

    My husband has always been really good at playing with Zak and as or pushing the buggy, from the first day we strapped Zak into a pushchair I have not been able to get near it when daddy is around. Men who don’t spend time with their children when they are little are missing out on so much.

  3. MummyTips says:

    My husband is amazing. There is no way that i could run my business without his support. He has always been hands on and right from the day they were born we have shared their care. We have always taken it in turns to get up with them in the morning – though in all honesty lately he has been getting up with them everyday as I regress to my pre child status as a night owl…. (thanks Twitter). However I am only too aware that he is a one in a million. His involvement has never been discussed it is just the flow that we fell into together – after all they are OUR children not just mine.

  4. Sam says:

    Well, don’t tell him I told you, but my other half has NEVER change my two-year-old’s nappy!!!!!!! He’s absolutely great with the kids and spends as much time as he can playing with them. But things like reading to them and helping with homework, learning songs/Christmas Carols, feeding, dressing, changing, bathing, putting to bed and getting up for them in the night, have naturally fallen into my ‘domain’. Hmmmmm…I’ve never actually seen it all written in black and white before.

  5. Potty Mummy says:

    I think you’re right, Liz. I think it’s because so many men never got the father that they needed that they don’t know how to be one – a good one – to their own children. I’m very lucky, my husband is fantastic with the children, and has been hands-on from day one, but I do think it’s a very easy trap to fall into, especially if the mum is the one who automatically picks up the baby every time it cries, always changes the nappy, always does the feeding. Once that pattern is set it can be hard to break out of it. As a new and anxious first time mum (which, let’s face it, most of us are at some point) it’s so easy to say ‘Oh, I’ll do it myself!’ when you see your partner struggling with the nappy etc. What might be better in the long term is instead to say ‘let me help you with that’ and show them how it’s done so that next time they can just get on with it. It’s hard to let go, I know, when it feels when this tiny life is entirely your responsibility, and your partner might not particularly enjoy the poo-fest to start with, but they will see the value of it in the end when they get to bond so much more closely with their child – and I promise, this makes winning the battle of priorites (hmm; spending time with the children or watching the match?) a little more even in the long term. Occassionally, the kids might even win out!

  6. Linda says:

    I think it’s really sad that this conversation is still taking place in 2009. My partner is and always has been totally hands on and even more so with an iron. Having said that I think if you asked just families with twins or triplets, the answers may be different – dads sort of have to get involved even if for some bizarre reason they don’t want to, what with the mum only having one pair of hands and all….x

  7. MammyD says:

    I and my girls are very lucky. When I went back to work after my first daughter was born my husband became a stay at home dad. We have 3 girls and he does everything- he takes them to ballet classes (even an interactive one, where there are no other men), playgroup, toddlerhyme, mini gyms, nursery, school, swimming lessons… he happily pushes the bright pink buggy and they are always impeccably dressed, usually in dresses with matching tights and accessories!! He’s not on his own at all these activities but he is def in a small minority. My husband didn’t have to do this, he chose to be a stay at home dad- it made financial sense and he was willing to take on the challenge. My girls have a fantastic relationship with their daddy. They adore him and they are so close! Guess we are just lucky.

  8. Tara@Sticky Fingers says:

    I have a friend who says her husband’s idea of playing with his daughter is watching her over the top of his laptop as she plays on the floor and he tippy taps away on the sofa. I think that’s so sad on so many levels – does he not realise how much joy he could get out of life if he just put it down for an hour, scooched up on the floor with her and joined in? My son is just 7 and adores sport so he and his dad go rugby training on a Saturday morning and have just started going to watch matches together. I think it’s just lovely for them to have their ‘boy’ things to do – just the two of them.

  9. Dotterel says:

    Absolutely dads are unsure how to behave with kids! Well, no doubt for some the whole thing comes quite naturally. But fatherhood is learnt, not taught… and many of us had dads with similar problems. Experience is always the best teacher though – and I’m an awful lot more ‘father’ with my second than my first!

  10. nappyvalleygirl says:

    Things are pretty equal in my household and have been since day 1. There are certain areas that I always deal wtih – like their clothes, laundry and stuff like cutting their fingernails. But my husband gives the boys their breakfast every day before work, we take in turns to do the bath and he takes them off for walks at the weekend to give me a bit of space. It’s dreadful that men in this day and age can still behave like Victorian Papas – and they are also missing out on so much.

  11. A Modern Mother says:

    Hubby was not very good when the girls were babies and toddlers … but now that they can talk, eat and sleep on their own he is wonderful. He does ALL the homework with them. And he does bedtime. We never actually "agreed" to this, it is just how it has turned out and I love it.

  12. Vic @ says:

    I guess we’re lucky in that the husband has always been pretty good with the boy. That said, since he’s been working from home and looking after him around school (instead of the nanny) he’s become even better at it all.

  13. Mummy Bear says:

    I’m lucky, Mr Scruff is great with Little Miss P and she is just potty on him. He does feel it as I spend so much time with her and he is scared to do anything practical in case it is not the way I do things. I think its really really tough on dads, but I am trying to just give them their space and time to build their own relationship together away from me.

  14. Tattie Weasle says:

    My father was too scared of babies to be any good with us when we were little but as we got bigger he was able torelate to us more and now we are grown up he’s great but what is more heartening is that now he’s a Grandpa he is brilliant. My Grandfather was not a good Dad but he was amazing with me and I adored him – so maybe there is hope for all those not so good fathers out there though personally I’d ask them to think of their own dad’s and not wait until they are grandfathers….

  15. lisa says:

    when my son was born my partner wasnt able to have time of work so was up to me to do the night feeds etc but when he was home he would take over with feeds to alow me time to relax/ have a bath etc, he was willing to change dirty nappies and push the buggie, would spend every minute he could giving cuddles and kisses. now my son is 1 my partner is working away from home leave 5am back for 8pm my son is in bed by 7 (unless i keep him up so his dad can put him to bed very rarerly but some times dad calls and asks to see him before bed) so if he not to tired will keep him awake for that extra hour, he plays roughly (not in a harmfull way of course) with our son he becomes all silly with funny noises and faces he a wonderfull dad he also gets up with him sat/sun mornings alowing me to have a few extra hours in bed and loves to still push the buggie wen he can, but with him being away so much he is missing out on alot, it hard some times as i am left to everything threw the week cleaning, changing, bathing, bedtimes, reading, playing and feeding starting to spend more time than usual in the kitchen now with having to cook meals at different times with dad not gettin in till late then havin to prepare him breakfast and lunch for work that time should be spent more on our son


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