“I have been going to church earlier. That’s because my husband has been helping me get the children ready and do other chores, so we can get to church earlier than we usually do,” said a momma of three on a WhatsApp group that I belong to.
She went on to thank her husband.
I just read and continued scrolling to see the updates that followed. As you might have guessed, it was filled with more “Thank you, Sir”, mostly from other women, who may be using that as an opportunity to tell their “unhelpful” husbands to help them too.
Only one person said, “So, this man, you have not been helping your wife before?” And then the “Thank you, Sir” continued to have the field day. Honestly, I felt some kinda way about the whole “Thank you, Sir” chorus, because I couldn’t wrap my head around why a man helping to bathing his own children could turn out to be such a big deal. But hey, I have a no judgement mindset and since, I’m not a party to their marriage, then I only know so little.
It was just a few days after the WhatsApp group scenario that a similar topic came up on Facebook, when an older friend of mine, I will call her Ijeoma, wrote something along the lines of women not being rehabilitation centers for badly raised men and in the comment section, a man pointed out that women get it all wrong when they use the word “help” in relations to the contributions of their husbands to the home.
Somehow, at that moment, I knew exactly why I felt somehow about the “Thank you, Sir” that followed the story of how a man “helped” his wife to bathe their children, so they could go to church earlier than if she had done it all by herself.
And just hours before I settled down to write this piece, I listened alongside my husband to a preacher, who upbraided men who consider it beneath them to do anything in their own homes, thinking it is not their “duty.”
I have a husband who can cook, clean and take care of the children. He had to do all of these recently, and still care for me, when I was a bit under the weather but more than half of the time, he lies on the bed fully awake, while I run around like a headless chicken doing the morning school runs. It is still a sore point in our relationship, and it gets worse when he asks me, “How do you want me to help you oh?” Mehn, if looks could die, I would have killed him several times over already.
One thing that I have come to realise is, men learn to be fathers from their own fathers and if their fathers sat down and let momma do everything, then they automatically expect the same of their wives, so basically, they are victims, just as their fathers were victims. However, should our children follow the same path? We as parents have a lot of work to do to ensure our sons (especially) don’t over burden their own wives.
Of course, there is no big deal in having paid help, but there is a difference between a nanny and a parent. Children connect to their parents differently from their care givers. By saying daddy is helping, we even demote daddy’s role in a child’s life to that of a paid help. And that is a disfavour, because the effect of a father on his child is far more than that.
Fathers play an important role in a child’s development; from birth through adulthood. In fact, numerous studies have reached the same conclusion: Children with involved fathers have an advantage — socially and academically — over children with distant or no relationships with their dads.
Scientists have found that fathers encourage competition, independence, and achievement, while mothers encourage equity, security, and collaboration
Researchers at the University of Oxford in England reached the same conclusion about the link between paternal involvement and academic success, in their study of 17,000 British school children.
Psychologist Eirine Flouri, who is one of the study’s authors, said, “An involved father figure reads to his child, takes outings with his child, is interested in his child’s education, and takes a role equal to the mother’s in managing his child.” Children with this type of dad were more likely to get good grades in school.
This is more than enough reason for men to want to become more involved in the lives of their children. For Dads who want to do that but have no idea how, here are some tips below:
- Since work is so important to men, you should see your parenting journey as a career too, and treat it as such.
- Be present for your children, whenever they need you.
- Get to know who they are and allow them to get to know you. This means experiencing each other from the earliest age in as many situations as possible
If you participate in the small things, such as bath time and bedtime, they will want you to be involved in the big things later on, such as what career to choose or whom to marry.
At the end of the day, parenting roles are not cast in stone, at least not in this 21st century. If parents choose traditional roles and both are happy, then it’s great. If they choose non-traditional roles, then they have to be clear that both have an equal voice in the negotiation, as well as be clear about their expectations of each other. That can make or mar their relationship.
On a final note, fathers have a major role to play in the lives of their children. Moms should stop relegating them to the position of “helper”.
They are parents just like mothers.
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