Letting Go of the Motherhood Payoff
We've blogged here many times before about our culture's sacred mother/child bond and how a mother's claim (or stronghold) on playing the central role in her child's life can be a significant barrier to ESP. It is often taken for granted that women can claim centrality in parenthood. But ESP means believing that motherhood is no more important than fatherhood.
It was nice, then, to see this pair of articles on Parenting.com (not sure when they were published in print, since we don't subscribe) - one describing how a competent father can trigger feelings of jealousy in his partner, and the other giving tips to moms on how and when to let dad parent 'his way.'
I liked many parts of each article, and cringed at other parts. Here's what I loved the best:
- "Most important, moms say, remember how lucky your kids are to have two hands-on parents. Gleicher [a mom interviewed for the article] hopes that having a caring, involved father will one day spur her daughter to choose a guy with those qualities. "She won't end up with somebody she doesn't respect," she says. Speaking of respect, adds Gerken [another mom interviewed for the article], it's the best cure she's found yet for parental jealousy. "Just to glory in your husband's abilities as a dad, I think, is key," she says."
- Lots of generally good advice for mothers to get out of their husbands' way and even learn from men's style of parenting (in the second article).
And here are some of the phrases that made me recoil:
- Calling an involved dad the "extra pair of hands" that moms have always wanted. No, we're whole, separate people - you don't just get our hands, you get our minds and hearts and souls that are wrapped up in caring for our children as much as yours are. We don't work for you. We work with you as a team of two parents.
- Saying that women want dads to be competent, but they "don't ever want to be pushed off that throne of being Mommy." What follows are examples of mothers who are jealous of their children's deep love for their dads. This mentality speaks of parenting for yourself rather than for the child - parenting so that someone loves and adores you rather than so that you can create a loving and warm home in which to bring up a child. Moms who want equality cannot operate from this perspective.
- Tying a SAHM's value to her superior parenting skills. One such mom says, ""When you've made this decision to stay home, you've given up this side of you where you can shine as your own person. Instead, you feel pressure to shine as a parent." Which can make it frustrating when your husband is as much fun with the kids as you are." Gee - how horrible - a fun dad! Again, parenting should be about giving our children the best lives, not a contest in which you secretly hope your spouse fails to live up to your excellence.
Hat tip to WorkingDad for covering the first article in his Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog today.