Happy Father’s Day to the Dads out there!!!!! I am SO thankful for each of you and the influence you have on your children! We wives NEED your masculine perspective, your wisdom, your bigger-picture mindset. We might know how to be good mothers, but we are terrible fathers! THANK YOU for the incredibly important impact you make on our children and our families daily!
This topic is a VERY common fear among wives/mothers. Of course our husbands don’t do things just like we do. We spend a LOT of time researching the latest medical information, trying to give exactly the right diet, sleep, play-time, tummy-time, learning, education, discipline, training, experiences, nurturing environment and safety to each of our children. Sometimes, we can even be just a bit neurotic about how we do things for our children – I’m GUILTY!! We can feel like we are the “expert” parent in the family sometimes and that our husband “doesn’t know best.” We can undermine his authority and confidence if we are not careful and we can easily slip into pride here!
Our husbands usually do NOT read up on the latest medical journal research about the hazards of a baby sleeping on his tummy, or the benefits of co-sleeping, or the advantages of breast milk over formula, the currently preferred method of helping babies/toddlers go to sleep, the AMA recommendations on screen time limits for children under 4, the latest food pyramid, the exact serving size of vegetables a 2.5 year old who weighs 30 lbs should eat per day…
And you know what? THAT IS OK!
OUR HUSBANDS PARENT DIFFERENTLY AND THAT IS PART OF GOD’S GOOD DESIGN
Men bring a different array of strengths and skill set to the family than women. They are NOT going to do things the way we do. That does not mean they are wrong!
Many times a dad tends to be:
- more liberal with snack food
- not as tight on schedule for meals/sleep time
- more fun
- more adventurous
- more physical
- give the kids more freedom
- more harsh with discipline as the children get older than mama
Our children benefit greatly from the influence and presence of their dad! Moms tend to be more about safety, nurturing, comfort, routine, nourishment (physically, emotionally and spiritually). Dads are usually more about expanding the boundaries, introducing new horizons, pushing older children to attempt new challenges, helping children learn difficult physical coordination skills, respect, responsibility, accountability and some very critical emotional and spiritual skills.
Of course, each individual mother and father have her/his own unique personality and bent – but God uses us to balance each other in our families.
A FATHER AND A MOTHER BALANCE EACH OTHER
Our husbands help to round us out as mothers. They help to keep us from going to extremes to protect our children. They also keep us from being too bonded with our children and help us to be able to let go and let our children become more independent, and help remind us to focus on our marriage primarily over our children. Dads also create a healthy “intimidation” factor that moms often do not and that “fear” of Dad helps to keep children and even teenagers out of a great deal of trouble.
THANK YOU, GOD, FOR DADS!
THE QUESTION EVERY MOTHER SECRETLY (OR NOT-SO-SECRETLY) ASKS
“Is my husband going to permanently injure my child(ren) in some way – physically, emotionally, spiritually?”
Precious mamas, please sit down for this!
Yes. He will. To some degree all fathers will injure their children… and here is a secret… so will all mothers! We will all taint our children to some degree and they will all have issues they’ll have to work through as adults because of sins, flaws and faults in our parenting. We are all sinners ourselves. And our children are also sinners. There will be flaws, mistakes, imperfections and baggage to some degree in each child’s life.
If your husband is sinning against your children, you may need to respectfully confront him. If you disagree with your husband, you could try saying something like, “Thank you that you love our children so much and thank you for your influence on them. Thank you for disciplining them and trying to teach them what is right. I am concerned about X. I want to see Y happen. I trust you to do what is best for our children in the sight of God.”
Some wives will lovingly, graciously, gently say, “You are a better man than that, Honey. I know your dad did that to you and I know how much it hurt you. I trust you to do the right thing.” (Great story in “Sacred Influence” by Gary Thomas about this!)
We CAN say what we think, feel and want gently, lovingly and respectfully – usually once.
DO WE KNOW BEST?
There are times that mamas can have a hard time seeing what is best in the long run for children. There are times that the temporary pain of discipline now is too excruciating for some moms to bear and they try to intercede and protect their children from their dad. If there is no abuse or sin happening -this is usually a tragic mistake that most moms don’t see until it’s way too late!
I know a family where the dad insisted that his two elementary school age sons practice treading water for 10-15 minutes. Their mom thought her husband was being way too extreme and harsh. But he insisted on them continuing to tread water even though they were exhausted. The next week, they were swimming in a river – I believe there was a strong undercurrent and they were being dangerously pulled down stream. If they had not learned to tread water for 10 minutes or more, they would have both drowned.
God may be impressing things on our husbands for our children’s protection and safety in the future that we know nothing about. We must be SO careful when we interfere with their fathering! I have learned that I might be fighting God Himself if I attempt to fight and argue with my husband. Unless he is sinning – how do I know God’s plans and how God might be directing him?
If the dad is physically abusing the children and there are bruises and cuts or broken bones or he is torturing the children in some way – then YES! MOM MUST STOP THIS!!!!!!!! She must call the authorities and protect her children if there is physical/sexual abuse.
But if the dad’s style is just more harsh or strict (or different) than mom’s – a wise mom will not interfere with the dad’s style. Dad may know what the children need in a way that mom doesn’t. And what seems too harsh now to a mother, might be the discipline that is necessary to protect the children from much greater harm later in life.
SOME THINGS WE CAN CONTROL THAT REALLY DO GREATLY HARM OUR CHILDREN
- When children see that Mama disagrees with Daddy about discipline and tries to rescue them from Daddy hurts our children DEEPLY. They learn to divide and conquer their parents in this case. They learn not to respect God-given authority. They’ll go to Mama, knowing that she’ll protect them from the consequences Daddy wants to give them. And they escape needed discipline and consequences. This does NOT create godly children!
- When children see their mom disrespect their dad, or to see their dad not love their mom. The damage of this type of situation is unfathomable! Children learn from their parent’s marriage about how marriage works and about how to respect authority. When a mom refuses to support her husband’s parenting decisions, she undermines the father’s authority to her children and she slaps her husband in the face with extreme disrespect. A spiritually healthy husband is NOT going to take kindly to this. The marriage, children and fathering in the family will be severely damaged. Some fathers will give up trying to be dads and leave all the parenting to the mom. Some fathers will retaliate in anger. These situations do not benefit our children or our marriages at all.
- The real clincher is that when Mama doesn’t trust Dad and doesn’t trust God to lead Dad without her help and constant interference and when she is worrying a lot – our children learn that God is small, weak and impotent and they are big, strong, responsible for the universe and overly powerful. They learn that THEY are sovereign, not God. They learn not to trust God. They learn not to trust Daddy. They learn not to trust other God-given authorities. They learn they can only trust themselves and they will probably learn to be anxious and to live in fear instead of by faith.
WHAT IS A MAMA TO DO?
Here’s what gives me peace as a mother of 2 myself:
My sovereign God is perfectly capable of using my husband’s sins (and thankfully, my sins, too) and mistakes for His glory and my children’s good in their lives.
My husband’s parenting is not beyond the reach of my sovereign Lord. I can appeal to my husband respectfully when I disagree. But in general – I let my husband decide how to be a father to my children. He has a perspective that I don’t have. He has wisdom that I don’t possess. He lets me be the Mama and I let him be the Daddy. And I communicate frequently to him:
“I trust you to do what is best for our children and our family in the sight of God. I know you are ultimately accountable for our family’s spiritual, emotional, physical well-being. I support you as the head of the family.”
And then I leave his decisions up to him. And I stand behind his decisions.
I pray for my husband daily – for wisdom, God’s Spirit, God’s direction and for God’s love for his family.
I DON’T HAVE CONTROL – BUT I DO HAVE INFLUENCE!!!!!
I make sure to praise and verbally admire EVERYTHING I see my husband doing that I love – that includes his fathering abilities.
When my husband feels respected and knows all my faith is in him – and he hears my praise, encouragement and admiration – he becomes the best possible father and man! And then I am also acting like the wife and mom I most desire to be!
My children GREATLY benefit from that!
Help us to trust You to lead our husbands as fathers. Help us to see where we are overstepping our bounds and trying to control our husbands out of fear. Help us to understand Your sovereignty better as it relates to our own family and help us to learn to trust and build up our husbands in ways that honor You and promote spiritual, emotional and relational health for our entire families.
In the Name of Christ – may His will be done in our marriages and families as it is in heaven!