“Mom knows best.” We’ve all heard it, some have set up camp on the phrase, and others roll their eyes at the saying. But what about dads? Do they really know best when it comes to parenting? Having experience raising three kiddos with my husband, Mr. Guess, I think we can learn a lot from dads! These are generalized perceptions of lessons learned from a man who deeply loves our three. We parent equally. There is no, “Well, that’s your job, not mine” frame of mind. However, I take on the mental load of parenting much more heavily than he does and I often find that he is less stressed about little hypothetical situations that rarely arise.
I am fully aware that this article paints a muddy picture of my flaws as a mom. I can rest easy knowing I am a work in progress. Mr. Guess deserves to be shown in a positive light when so many dads like him are taking the time to love their kids well!
1. Don’t over-prepare
Our 10-year-old son recently went to a sleepover. My spontaneous husband decided to take him rock climbing at High Point Climbing just before. Mr. Guess answered all the issues of re-planning our afternoon with simple solutions:
Me: “He doesn’t have his stuff.”
Mr. Guess: “I threw that in the truck before we left.”
Me: “I was going to get manicures with our middle girl!”
Mr. Guess: “I will take the youngest and oldest climbing!”
Me: “I still have to pick up a present!”
Mr. Guess: “I’ll get a gift card on the way.”
Just when I thought he was Mr. Perfect Dad, he called for directions. But alas, while on the phone giving him directions he said, “I’ll just ask our oldest. He knows the way.” No worry in his voice; no over preparing or thinking 20 steps ahead. Just taking it as he goes and letting our kids help as needed.
Lesson learned: Not over preparing leaves room to live life, adapt to circumstances, and be present in the moment.
2. Release your inner child
If I take my kids to the park, most often it’s to let them run off steam while I get some work done (work from home mom life). Ever seen dads at the playground? They are usually letting their kids climb up the slide, deal with altercations with fellow toddlers on their own, and unashamedly run the monkey bars with them. Makes me think: Who’s running this parenting gig the right way?
Mr. Guess is the first to chime in to play with his kids. If they’re jumping to music in the playroom, he’s right there in the middle silly dancing. A stroll across the Walking Bridge isn’t just a walk, but an opportunity to bring their imaginations to life. The steel cables are vines to swing from and the benches are rocks perfect to overlook the ships coming in to dock. It is amazing to see him play with the kids, not just hang out near them.
Recently, I was at the Creative Discovery Museum with our two oldest. Sitting down in the new Japan exhibit, letting them make me sushi, I noticed most moms were standing near. This doesn’t make me a better mom, but I wondered if they had learned the joy in joining kids in play.
Lesson learned: There is a time and a place for play. Choose the best yes you can give your child in the moment.
3. Let them dress themselves
As a first time single, teen Momma, presentation was everything. Never did my son have a food-stained bib, mismatched socks, or out of date clothing. Upon marrying my husband (who not too much later adopted our son as his own), I noticed that he didn’t care to dress our son in the outfits I had strategically hung up together.
Me: “Do you just not care?”
Mr. Guess: “I do care, but today he wanted to wear the blue pants to match the blue dinosaur shirt.”
Me: “Yeah, well, he’s four. What does he know?”
Mr. Guess: “He knows what he likes!”
Thankfully child #2 was much more compliant in dressing in what mom thought was cutest. With child #3, it was an unrelenting battle every morning as she woke up and dressed herself from bow to shoes before coming downstairs. “Elle, you’re going to have to let it go. She’s an artist at heart. This is her expressing herself.” Pretty sure my eyes rolled out of my head and onto the freshly laid out clothes I had just matched up in hopes she would pick one of them. “She is NOT an artist. She’s three.”
Then it hit me. Mr. Guess saw our kids for who they would become, not limiting them to what society thought they should be. My prideful dressing of the kids was squashed! Now, as long as it’s clean and weather appropriate they can wear it.
Lesson learned: Let your kids express themselves. It won’t hurt anyone, but will bring more smiles from strangers as your kids radiate confidence.