Busy Dads

Hi Sharon,

Do you think it’s important for fathers to spend alone time with their children? My husband is a very busy man and doesn’t have a lot of free time. We all do things together from time to time, but he never spends any alone time with them. I want him to change that and make the time so that they all have relationships that don’t include me. He’s kind of old fashioned and seems to think that parenting is the woman’s job. I don’t think he knows our kids very well and I don’t think they know hi m really either. I don’t think he knew his father very well and he’s repeating it. Is there any advice you have for us?

Dear Mom,

I think your point is an excellent one. It is wonderful for everyone in a family if a Dad has relationships with his children separate from their Mom. Most men I know are very busy, some of them feeling the pressures of being the primary breadwinner. Finding the time and place for both of you to talk this through can be difficult but is important to do.

If your husband’s job is demanding then it is particularly important that you and he have regular dates so that you can discuss things in a relaxed and loving tone. It will be easier for you to talk about this or any other complicated topic if you are having some fun while doing it. I often suggest one date a week even though I know that is hard to do. If dates only happen sporadically one or both people can feel pressure to tackle too many issues at once when they finally have a moment alone together, an approach that rarely works.

During your date and at other times as well one of the things that can help any parent understand what a difference they make to their children is to hear their partner talk about specific things they have done that have meant a lot to their children. Point out to your husband that the two minutes he spent wrestling his little ones made their next day at school go much better, t hat the kiss he put on his son or daughter’s cheek before bedtime made that night’s sleep much sounder, and that the way he makes even the most boring thing fun helps you relax and worry less. The more specific you can be the better.

Even if your talks go well another good idea is to set up regular times when your go out of the house and leave Dad alone with the children, even if you are not used to doing this. Couples I know who have done this regularly i.e., Mom takes a class every week, goes out with friends every Saturday, etc., have reported good results. Weekends that are a little freer of backlash from a busy workload are often the most successful time to set this up. During the hours you are away Dad can get a clear shot at their relationship with their children. This will be great for Dad, the children and you.

We live in an exciting time when Dads get to do things with their families in a way many of our fathers didn’t have the chance to do. Enjoy.