Friday, July 07, 2006

Preaching Parenting In Partnership

Taking a break from working today, I checked out another new blog. Interesting woman, funny posts, cute child. And she's fed up with her husband. It tears at my heart to read about another wonderful, smart, lively woman dealing with a marriage to a man whose actions do not convey respect, who puts his needs ahead of his wife and child's, or who is not an equal partner in the relationship or in parenting. I hate to think of this and other women I know getting less than they deserve.

I know that marriage can be better, because it is for me. I don't mean to suggest that my husband is perfect. He's not, and we have had our struggles over our 13+ year relationship. But I have always known that he respects me and is my equal partner. Even when he was working and I was home with Ada full-time, he did his share and often more. And unlike me, he rarely complains about the hard parts. My heart goes out to my real-life and blog friends who struggle with their partners because I know that Chris is not a superman. He's a normal, wonderful guy who somehow learned the important lessons that make him a great husband and father, the lessons that I wish the husbands and partners of many more women would get. The women I know are all so strong and amazing, but we should not have to be strong or amazing all the time. Sometimes our partners should be strong and amazing for us.

* * *

I wrote this earlier today, but hesitated about posting it. I didn't want women who have less engaged or otherwise frustrating husbands to feel that I was thumbing my nose at them. My intention is the exact opposite, but I know that when I am having a hard time with something, hearing how great someone else's life is in that area can be a bit, well, terrible. In the end I hit "publish" because of two things. One is that I talked to Chris about it. He agreed that being a good parent does not make him a special (even though I still appreciate how great he is). He said that he's noticed the accolades that some of the high profile daddy bloggers get for being good parents, and wonders why people think it is extraordinary that such men engage with, attend to and demonstrate their obvious love their children and wives.

The other thing that convinced me was this post. Like me, MIM has a partner who understands that parenting is the responsibility and joy of both parents, and who does not try to get out of the less fun parts just because he's a busy man.

* * *

This is definitely one of those moments when I wish I was a better writer. There is so much I feel that I am failing to adequately express. For now, all I can offer is my hopes. To any and all women reading this: I hope that you have a wonderful partner with whom to share the highs and lows of parenting. You deserve one. And to the men, I hope you are like Chris, Dutch, Pierre and MIM's husband, because the woman you married, she is amazing and strong, but human. Your children will be better for your combined efforts.

12 comments:

  1. Spot on. I am so incredibly lucky in my spouse, but appreciate those out there who do not have that support. To the mama's that handle it all, YOU ROCK! We should all have that kind of perserverance.

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  2. you needn't worry about posting that. I too have read lots of blogs where the wife complains about her husband's lack of participation in the parenting process; I've heard that this is also one of the prime topics of conversation at playgrounds and at playgroups. in some ways, complaining about husbands is kind of like talking about the weather.

    I think men like your husband are actually far more the norm than any of us realize. we need to write about THAT and talk about THAT in order to combat all the negativity.

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  3. I, too, find it upsetting to read about fellow bloggers whose husbands just aren't coming through for them. And I admire their honesty, because when I was in an unhappy marriage, I wouldn't admit it to anyone. When I read certain posts, I know how easily that could have been me.

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  4. While I do find that we all can bitch better than we can gush (my teen journals were rarely about happy things, but filled with dark thoughs), I find that now when I read about "those" husbands, I tend to feel sympathy for them as much as I do for the women.

    I mean...we all have baggage.

    And through watching and learning about my dh and seeing all the conflict and issues he has warred with....I really think that a lot of guys out there aren't doing it to be jerks or whatever....I think a lot of it boils down to how they were raised, them trying to live the way they THINK they are supposed to and the total lack of real communication with their partners.

    There is always two sides to a story and while there are real a-holes out there too who don't even want to get 'it.'

    But I think there are a lot that just need help.

    And I will add that my husband is by no means perfect either and infruriates me to no end...but for the most part I can talk to him about it and he listens and tries to fix it or figure out what is going on and so on.

    So that does it for me.

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  5. I couldn't agree more with you and Chris. I don't think it should be considered anything special or extraordinary for a man to be an involved parent and husband. To a certain extent, I think that's a vestige of past generations, a time when men were expected to only be the breadwinners in the family and were absolved of any additional responsibilities. Hopefully, that's changing and each generation of parents will continue to produce more fathers who are involved in raising their kids. Hopefully.

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  6. Yes Dutch.. complaining about HUSBANDS is sort of like talking about the weather.. Complaining about FATHERS, aka co-parents, is sort of like reporting on the Kobe Earthquake. -- dare you to say that on BB.

    Thank you for this post -- NLG. Your writing is more than adequate to raise the dialogue on very important subject. I really appreciate the Nonlinear Dad perspective, no offense to you.. he should blog a bit, eh?

    As advertised I appreciate your post.. especially in the aspect that nods to the potent complexities of the topic. I find it hard to put in words but I don't know that is as straightforward, (simple?), for all Dads as it is for some THE daddy bloggers you mention. To be vague (?) I know that becoming a father has been a period rife with difficulty for my husband to come to terms with the role his father was cast in the 70's and 80's. Some of the barriers are psychic, some social.. It is not all task sharing is it?

    Modern parenting ... I just don't think it is quite done yet. You force that reminder to us all, thanks a bunch.

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  7. Thanks Mo-Wo, I think you hit on a key difference re fathers vs husbands. I do think a lot of women who found their husbands to be good partners pre-child have learned that the equality they were used to as a couple does not always translate into true shared parenting.

    I agree that due to a number of factors, being a dad is by no means easy or uncomplicated. I certainly expect a lot from Chris, and wonder about how he or any dad I know has it together enough to overcome the stuff he learned about parent roles as a kid.

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  8. I used to be so clueless regarding this subject and did my fair share of complaining. K was K and that seemed just fine. I think I really took notice when B was born. I began to feel very "lucky." Finally, after 10 years together I feel as if I really get it. Does K have flaws? yes. Is he perfect for B and I? Definitely!

    It is wonderful that you also have this (Ada too). I wish this for all of my friends, That's what makes us good people.

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  9. living in that situation is difficult. i lived it for years. but one day i found the strength to say no more and i divorced my husband.

    i hadn't worked in 5 years (stay at home mom) and i hadn't completed my education then.

    BUT i felt liberated. liberated from the anger, resentment and frustration of being in a relationship that took so much and gave so little.

    i hope who ever she is (and others like her) find the same strength and learn to love themselves and their children enough to leave.

    you have to ask yourself: do you want the children to grow up thinking that kind of behaviour is "normal" or do you want them to grow up with a happier, more stable mom?

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  10. living in that situation is difficult. i lived it for years. but one day i found the strength to say no more and i divorced my husband.

    i hadn't worked in 5 years (stay at home mom) and i hadn't completed my education then.

    BUT i felt liberated. liberated from the anger, resentment and frustration of being in a relationship that took so much and gave so little.

    i hope who ever she is (and others like her) find the same strength and learn to love themselves and their children enough to leave.

    you have to ask yourself: do you want the children to grow up thinking that kind of behaviour is "normal" or do you want them to grow up with a happier, more stable mom?

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  11. I'm reading this on the heels of a Christian youth camp end-of-week celebratory event Friday night in which the lay minister chided and challenged uninvolved fathers to be there for their kids like the "wiped out" mothers he saw faithfully dropping off and picking them up each day. Separated for nearly two years, and at the end of divorce proceedings, I have lost the day-to-day contact with my two girls and am suffering in so many ways because of it. I could barely resist crying out in anger during the minister's "sermon" while my oldest daughter sat in another pew just 15 feet from me with her mother and grandma, and my youngest was with the rest of the youth group. Because of my failed marriage, I no longer enjoy the privilege of being with my kids every day. It's a terribly unfair consequence of divorce. That said, I am very happy that you and Chris thrive as parents and partners together. xoxo

    g.

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  12. You ARE a good writer. You totally got your point across. It breaks my heart when people call it quits when their partners don't "get it." It takes A LOT of work, but children will definitely be better off with two parents (assuming the relationship isn't abusive). My dude gets a lot of things wrong, but the reason our son is the magical being he is has to do with how involved my husband is. Hands down.

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