Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Expert Parent

The small child sitting in front of me at large public event was squirming.  Her mother was preoccupied talking to someone in front of her.  Her big brother was doing his best to prevent her from wandering into the aisle. Dad was nearby but oblivious. When the little girl began hitting her brother, Dad noticed but did not intervene.  When Mom finally became involved she gave him a disgusted look.  He said, "What could I do?"

I recognized a possible problem that I'd seen elsewhere. The loving husband (in this case) had learned to defer to his wife in all things related to parenting.  She was "the expert."  After all nothing he did with the children was right anyway.  She always swooped in to correct or fix.  Keeping the peace meant doing it her way but on the other hand she was thinking, "Why doesn't he help?"

We all learn parenting by doing it.  The mom who thinks, "I can't leave the children at home alone with their Dad, he wouldn't know what to do!".... well, she needs to leave and let him figure it out.  As long as we're not talking about abuse here, the experience will be great for everyone.  He might not parent the way she does but that's okay.  Her  unintentional "control" is toxic for the family environment and its emasculating.   Ouch!  A storm is brewing for a difficult moment in adolescence when he will someday say, "We did it your way and look how they turned out!"

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