When my son is sick, it is not really me that he wants; he wants his daddy. If I want to snuggle with him, or to give him his medicine or juice or crackers, my son will say, “No, Daddy do it.” For whatever reason, he wants his daddy to tend to his needs when he’s ill. He may say similar things when he’s well, but both Daddy and I can help him and he definitely loves to help us.
There are times I feel sad that my son does not want me when he’s sick, but I know it’s nothing that I have done to make him feel that I can’t take care of him. My husband feels like he can’t do anything but tend to our son when he’s sick, and for the most part it appears to be true. My husband has a difficult time excusing himself even to go the bathroom because our son will yearn for him. When a child is sick, five minutes can feel like an eternity! I still try to help both of my guys, but it is easier to allow Daddy to do it all because our son is insistent on who takes care of him.
How do I feel about that? Well, I don’t really like it, to be honest. I’m sure most of us moms feel that we can take care of our sick children “better” than our male counterparts. But it’s not about who is the better nurturer. My husband does wish that our son would not be so dependent upon him when he’s sick and he knows it won’t always be like that. And yes, at times I feel a little sad and jealous, but it does not last long because I know my spouse is a good caretaker, a nurturer who tends well to our son—and seeing that outweighs my thoughts and feelings. My son happens to prefer his daddy when he is sick, and that’s OK.
Each parent adds a lot to the equation of raising a healthy child. Yes, some children have single moms, single dads, divorced parents, stepparents, no parents, or whatever the case is, but at certain times in a child’s life, he or she will prefer one parent over the other. I remember growing up that if I was unsure about something, I would talk with my mom because she was home more, but when my dad came home, I also wanted his advice and wisdom. Dads are just as wise, nurturing, and loving, and are just as great teachers and cuddlers as moms. Yes, there are dads out there who do not show it, or who don’t want to be seen that way, but dads can have a special effect on their children.
This is not about dads vs. moms. Moms and dads are simply different. They both are able to take care of children, be good providers, be menders of wounds and broken hearts, etc. Each parent has a different knack, a different way of doing things. When both parents are present in a child’s life, to whom he or she will go in a particular situation may vary. Some dads may need a little help in the nurturing department, or more practice in the mending of children’s hurts and boo boos, but there are women out there who need a little help, too.
- For moms: Help your spouse be a part of your child’s life. Allow your spouse to help you take care of your child, have him kiss your child’s boo boos, and allow him to put the child to bed. Some guys may surprise you on how natural they are at taking care of a child. Recognize that having your spouse take care of your child has nothing to do with you not being a good mom; it’s about allowing your spouse to be another caretaker in your child’s life. Appreciate that dads have different yet healthy ways to connect with a child. Sometimes dads can be softies, sure, such as when a child needs to nap but does not want to. You may think Daddy should just put him or her down no matter what because that’s what you would do, but let that go and be happy that your spouse is helping out.
- For dads: Help Mommy out. Be active in your child’s life. Even though it may not feel “natural” or you are not sure you will do it as well as Mommy, get involved. Understand that you, too, bring important qualities to the parenting process. It may feel weird at times, but when you’re involved, your child will learn to trust and appreciate you, and will see that you have something just as special as Mommy. Be a great team player for Mommy and take over when she’s tired or stressed. Know that you have great power, just as mommy does.
Each parent has strengths and weaknesses. Working together can help your child feel safe and secure.
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