I speak with moms every day who feel unsupported at home by their husbands. It is often easier just to accept the lack of involvement from our spouse rather than trying to get your man to "lean In" at home. So we tend to supplement with support from other sources: Helpers, Au Pairs, Grannies and Grandfathers. One subscriber even says she tells her husband that she should have married his mother!
Raising children is a task that is monumental in its ability to consume... Your time, your resources, your patience, your love -- all poured into these little beings that can be achingly good for your heart and soul destroying at the same time.
It takes a village to raise a child... and where better to start than your child's own father?
Due to my own work commitments, I lean on my husband in every way imaginable... we earn equally well and share in our homemaking and parenting responsibilities so that we are able to both deliver on the various pulls on our time. He is an incredible man and I am beyond grateful to have him as my husband. However, there are a few things I have learned to do and say that contribute daily to his "hands on" approach...
If you, too, would like to get your husband to "Lean In" at home, read on.
1. Build him up
Men respond to positive affirmation. Tell him he is wonderful and he will become exactly that. Respect is something that every man needs even if he doesn't yet deserve it. In the same way that we need to feel loved unconditionally by our husbands, they need to feel respected by us. Either party can start this cycle of love and respect but it is often more achievable for the change to come from you.
2. Break it down
Men need specific instructions. "Please clean up in here!!!" is simply not enough. I have three men in my house so, believe me, I know... If you can be very specific (e.g. "Please could you unpack the dishwasher and repack with all the dirty dishes, then wipe all the countertops? Thanks so much Babe!"), you are more likely to get the outcome you would like. The same cannot be said for shopping lists -- most of our men, unfortunately, are at a loss in that department and I guess you just have to work with what comes home in those bags...
This step is vital. Once you have explained what you would like, do NOT go and do it for them anyway. They will (rightly) feel that you were not happy with their efforts and will most likely never step in -- or at least offer to step in -- to the scullery again.
Refer to no. 1. If you are thrilled with the job he did, tell him! If you are even just a little happy - tell him! Even better, give him a huge big smooch and a hug to let him know just how grateful you are... he may even take the initiative and do the same task without being asked the next time - go ahead and try it! And please let me know how it goes... If you are not happy with what he did, explain better (but as happily) the next time. Repetition does wonders and he will get it eventually, I promise!
5. Suspend all judgement
Men change diapers differently than women. The simple fact is that they pee standing up and this results in them doing EVERYTHING differently. Don't try change the way they do things -- just be glad they are doing them. Step BACK friend. There are several ways to skin, well, just about anything you plan on skinning.
6. Pile on the praise
Refer to no. 1 again. I cannot emphasize this point enough, and this goes for your husbands as well as your sons. They really do love you and they want to please you, let them know that they have.
7. Put your feet up!
If you have successfully mastered steps one to six my only advice is to give yourself a pat on the back (this is not easy for us ladies!) -- so go make yourself your favorite warm beverage and grab a few minutes on the couch with that magazine you have been dying to read... or, even better, with www.halfdaymum.com on the iPad.
You deserve it!
PS: Thanks to Sheryl Sandberg for her contribution to the title of this post...
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