To celebrate the approaching Mother’s Day holiday, we asked members of our City Dads Groups around the nation to share with us a lesson on parenting they learned from their wives. Here they are and — sorry, guys — this still doesn’t get you out of giving her a proper gift on Sunday.
Living with a couple of 2-year-olds who have a voracious appetite for knowledge means most of the lessons in our home go from parents to kids. The other day I realized that my sons aren’t the only ones learning. My wife has taught me something every parent should learn.
Kids throwing cereal on the floor? Smile.
Work have you a bit frazzled? Smile.
Nap time isn’t going as planned? Smile.
Life is too short to get frustrated over every little thing that arises. A smile calms down everyone around you, making it easier to correct the situation. So remember, SMILE!
You are the Parenting Expert
Parenting is a joint enterprise and it’s something for which “on-the-job” training is essential. And by the time you have it completely figured out, your child has outgrown that phase!
When I was a new parent, I felt like I didn’t know how to do anything. Diaper, swaddle, burp, co-sleep — it was all new to me. My wife, on the other hand, seemed to be an old hand at all of this stuff. I had several moments of “can’t do” frustration, where I freaked out about not knowing how to do something, or which was the best course of action to take. My wife talked me down, and convinced me that I was the parenting expert, and that I could do or figure out anything.
Turns out it was true! Six years later, my child is alive and still thriving (last I checked).
Don’t Play “Super Baby” Just After The Kid’s Eaten
“Nothing will happen. She’s having fun!”
And in that moment, I learned that baby cheese has a very similar taste and texture to cottage cheese. Except it’s nice and warm. (And “you’re welcome” for my making you vomit in your mouth.)
I love tossing both my kids around and rough-housing. It’s definitely our thing. But, now I take a deep breath from the fun and think. I remember the taste of infant bile in my mouth and my wife having to say, “I told you so,” as she laughed, took a picture and posted it to Facebook. Lesson learned. Sort of.
Take It Slow
Maggie Miller is the mother of my child, my wife and my partner. She’s taught me more about parenting than any of the dozen books on my shelf.
When co-parenting our son, now 16½, one book we’ve both found invaluable is Slow Parenting Teens. We each have a copy on our nightstand, and when I read it I always realize that Maggie’s a naturally slow parent. A key value of the concept is “parent every day,” and it’s because of my wife’s insistence and example that I make the effort to connect with our son Jordy every day.
It’s working. My son is open to hanging out and talking about his day, every day, and I am grateful to his mom for the lesson that ensured this.
If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry
Whose fault is it when your 3-year-old wades thigh-deep through the fountain display at Lowe’s? I tend to think my children are consciously trying to make my life more difficult. Yet, somehow my wife sees through these opaque lenses of love that nearly blind her ability to hold onto frustration toward our children. She has taught me that things are only as bad as you allow them to be.
In all seriousness,though, if we saw that happening to someone else, we’d laugh. So, what’s the point of being mad?
— David Kepley, Dallas Dads Group
My wife taught me that I loved my daughter when I was freaking out I’d never love her. I struggled with the ideal of “falling in love.” It was supposed to be like in the movies: hold her, heart melting, mind and soul overwhelmed by the deepest enchantment possible. It didn’t happen. I felt distant, disoriented, frustrated, scared. I hated myself for six months until my wife showed me a picture of my daughter and I. I stared at my face – the look of pure adulation and joy – and I realized I’d loved my child all along.
— Lorne Jaffe, NYC Dads Group
Raising Sienna, @raisingsienna