Mad at Dad?

Moms, do you ever get angry with dad?  While you are helping the kids with their homework, making dinner, vacuuming, petting the dog (ew…while making dinner?), and setting up tomorrow’s business proposal, he’ playing snood on the computer and watching 24 on TV….and he’s enjoying himself!

Parenting.com recently conducted a nationally representative survey (hat tip: Motherlode) of more than 1,000 moms on MomConnection.  In the survey, a significant number of moms confessed a surprising amount of anger towards their husbands.familyguy

From the article:

“We love our husbands — but we’re mad that we spend more mental energy on the details of parenting. We’re mad that having children has turned our lives upside down much more than theirs. We’re mad that these guys, who can manage businesses or keep track of thousands of pieces of sports trivia, can be clueless when it comes to what our kids are eating and what supplies they need for school. And more than anything else, we’re mad that they get more time to themselves than we do.”

“46% of moms get irate with their husbands once a week or more. Those with kids younger than 1 are even more likely to be mad that often (54 percent). About half of the moms describe their anger as intense but passing; 1 in 10 say it’s ‘deep and long-lasting.'”

I’m tellin’ ya, I was taking notes.  While I’m still single now, one day I will be a husband and a dad.  I’d definitely like to come prepared.

Perhaps those of you more experienced than I will laugh at this post (I know I don’t have a whole lotta authority.  I know lots about being a college batchelor, but not a parent.  Just bare with me, ok?  If I’m wrong, just laugh, then gently correct me), but for what it’s worth, here’s my thoughts:

1)  Seems like some of the anger is due to gender differences.  Men and women parent differently, and that’s a good thing.

For example, the article said, “40% of moms are mad that Dad can’t multitask. And the more kids they have, the madder they are: 46 percent of moms with three-plus kids are irked by this.”

It’s a well documented fact that men aren’t as efficient as women are at multitasking.  You can cook, talk on the phone, write, vacuum, and watch the kids, but all he can do is watch the kids.  This might not be due to neglect and a failure to “consider your needs.”  Best not to get too worked up about this, cuz it ain’t gonna change.

Similarly, sometimes men just forget the details:

“Lots of moms — 40 percent — are also angry that their husbands seem clueless about the best way to take care of kids. We know we didn’t marry buffoons. We married smart men who can fix cars and garbage disposals, men who empty mousetraps without getting the heebie-jeebies, men who can keep track of their fantasy football trades. So why can’t they remember to put kids in coats and mittens before sending them off to school?”

Men, though, *in general,* seem to better understand that not everything needs to be perfect.  Another Parenting.com article titled, “Why Dad’s Parenting Technique can be Better,” claims,

” ‘I dress my daughter often,’ says Al Weiss of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, dad of 11-month-old Elisabeth. ‘I might put certain clothes on backward because I can’t find a tag. My wife will say, ‘This goes with that.’ But as long as my daughter is warm and happy, I am too.'”

In other words, don’t stress.  I’ve had experience with this conflict in the teaching world.  During my student teaching stint, I drove one of my master teachers up a wall because I neglected teaching details that she would remember.  She instructed me on them several times, but I still didn’t pick them up.  This wasn’t because I was intentionally neglecting her instruction; it was just that I could only handle so many things at once.  In fact, I sometimes still forget those details.

When I used to work with grade school kids, I would regularly play basketball or soccer on the playground with the boys.  The boys absolutely loved this.  They had never really had an adult male play their games with them (the school was heavily female.  In fact, I was the only male staffer there).  I mean they ate it up.  Many of the women, who were more safety minded, were very uncomfortable with this, not because it was somehow inappropriate for a man to be mixing with the kids, but just because someone could get hurt.  I was ok with the risk.

This has limits, of course, but this difference needs to be recognized.

The article on “Dad’s Parenting” is an excellent example of this.

Other times, we see the details but are ok with them not being done right that moment.  From the article:

“One thing that can complicate it is the different ways some moms and dads choose to spend their time. Moms tend not to let themselves slack off when there are chores to be done.”

Hey, sometimes, laundry can wait.  Like above, balance is needed, but seriously, the house won’t burn down due to a dirtly dish or two.

2) Some is due to false expectations we have of men. The media gives most of these false expectations to us.  The article mentions this when it says,

“These are the kinds of things we see parodied on TV sitcoms, where bumbling husbands get laughs for feeding the kids frosting sandwiches and sending them to school in scuba gear.”

These days, life imitates art.  Name one current TV show that features a capable, strong, faithful husband.  I can name one: Smallville.  And Clark’s dad was killed off four years ago.  However, I can name lots of TV shows with bumbling, idiotic dads: Family Guy, The Simpsons, The King of Queens, etc.  Even in the debateable ones, like Everybody Loves Raymond, the husbands are far from capable.

It’s not a stretch at all to suggest that if these are the images of husbandry men and women are exposed to, the men follow suit and the women expect the men to follow suit.

3)  Some of the anger could be due to women trying to do the successful-career-woman thing along with the mom thing.  You can’t have everything, and stress will result when you try.

4)  I do wonder how many of the couples featured in the survey are solid Christ-following couples.  Not nominal church goers, mind you, but couples that have strong, Bible-drenched minds.  I wonder what difference, if any, this would make.

5)  Despite all of these caveats, though, I have to admit, a lot of the anger seems justified, at least anecdotally.  I saw a lot of selfishness in the article on the husbands’ part.   Here are a few notable exerpts:

“Erin Martin of Seattle remembers the Saturday morning she spent rushing making football-shaped sandwiches for her son’s sixth-birthday party. Her husband, meanwhile, was goofing around on the computer, oblivious that he could be pitching in.”

___

“I know I’m not the only one who gets Mad at Dad. Whenever I see the phone number of a certain close friend on the caller ID, I know she needs my understanding ear because her husband has dropped a wad of cash on electronics while telling her she can’t have someone in every other week to help clean, or because he let the kids eat junk food and play video games while she was running errands, and now they’re glassy-eyed and glued to the ceiling.”

___

“Her husband doesn’t seem to pay attention to or understand his daughter’s basic needs, says Malbrough — for instance, that babies need a lot of sleep. He recently came home from a shift at work at 8:00 in the morning, when Malbrough and her daughter were still snoozing. They’d been up late the night before, and both mom and baby were zonked.

‘He just decides he’s going to wake everyone in the house up,’ Malbrough says. ‘He doesn’t think she needs to sleep as much as she does.’ And, she adds, not only does he violate the universal ‘never wake a sleeping baby’ rule, but once their daughter’s awake, she’s the one who has to tend to her.”

___

It was testimonies like these that made me sit up and take notice.  My first instinct was to stick my nose in the air and go “tsk tsk…can’t these men get it together and consider their wives’ needs for once?  Can’t they just be servant-leaders every now and then?”

Then I remembered: yesterday, I tripped over a pair of flip flops in the hallway.  I was irate with my roommate. “It’s the middle of February!  Seriously, who wears flip flops in February?  Why can’t he just pick up after himself a bit, geez!”  Then I looked.  The flip flops were mine.  I haven’t worn flip flops in three months.  Hmmm.

Right now, I can’t pretend to be any better.  I can be just as selfish.  Nay, more…much more.  In that respect, the article served as a good kick in the rear.  When I become a husband, I will be called to be a servant leader.  I will need to juggle responsibilities.  I will need to keep track of details.  I will need to get that laundry done.

But having that mindset won’t just happen overnight.  It’s not like a lightswitch, more like a muscle.  It’s a habit that needs to be cultivated, and no better time to start than now.

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