I’ve just finished reading an article in New York Magazine entitled “A Mom Confronts Her Momblocking Husband“. Pop over and give it a read, then head back for commentary and discussion.
Sohn wrote her article from the perspective of a mom whose husband is a momblocker. She didn’t go into any detail about why she thinks her husband is acting as a momblocker, so one can only guess. I think that there are some things she and her husband need to work out in their relationship, and that they should do so in a joint session with a marriage counselor, but that’s not the point of her article. Rather, she was using herself as an example to illustrate what she sees as the larger problem of momblockers.
Not being a momblocker myself, I can’t say for sure why momblockers do what they do. Sohn speculated that some dads may simply feel that they have more expertise based on an upbringing where they cared for younger siblings. Other dads, she wrote, might be trying to compensate for their insecurities by having opinions and making decisions for no other reason than to have opinions. I suspect it could be both of those, though I’d tend to think the second would be more common, perhaps as an overcompensation for the widely perceived cluelessness and disinterest of dads.
So what can dads do about this? First, whenever you make a decision about your child’s care, think about what you are basing your decision on. Are you doing it simply to win brownie points with your spouse? Are you just trying to get your way, regardless of the outcome? These are particularly selfish reasons to make a decision, particularly if the actual outcome of your decision is not critical. Are you trying to compensate for what you perceive as a lack of respect by using this decision-making to assert your authority over your spouse or family? Consider that you may be acting counter-productively and possibly hurting your family members if you’re making decisions for this reason.
Instead, keep in mind that you don’t need to have an opinion on everything all the time. Sometimes Rebecca will ask for my opinion on what Catherine should wear; she does this because she respects what I think and wants to take it into account. However, sometimes I really don’t have an opinion, and rather than trying to appear as though I do, I simply let her know that I just don’t have an opinion, and that I trust her judgment in the matter. In my experience, this is always better than trying to fake an opinion. (Of course, be sure that you understand when mom is actually asking you to get your kids dressed. She’s not asking for your opinion, she’s asking because she has something else she needs to do and wants you to take charge of the situation. If you find this difficult, you should make an attempt to pay attention to the way she dresses the kids in the future, and try to use that to make an informed decision.)
Another thought to bear in mind is that it’s okay for parents to have different skill sets. Certain tasks will naturally fall to the people who are best at them or have a preference for them. For example, Rebecca is usually the one to take care of clipping Catherine’s nails, while I am usually responsible for suctioning her nose when it’s runny from a cold. I don’t feel a need to take over the nail-clipping duties, nor does Rebecca want to be involved in the suctioning most of the time – we just do what we feel comfortable with, whenever it needs to be done. You should, of course, make an attempt to have a minimum level of proficiency in the more important things that may need to occur when your spouse isn’t around: diaper changing, feeding and comforting as a few examples. Of course, you should also be sensitive to your spouse’s needs. If you notice that they’re grumbling or giving you angry stares while they take care of a task yet again, it’s a safe bet that they might like a hand with it every now and then.
Finally, if you’re truly concerned about the decisions your spouse is making regarding your child, the most important thing to do is talk to them about it. You shouldn’t simply jump in and make the decision you think is best, nor should you let it fester and grow into resentment in your mind. If your spouse isn’t receptive to discussing your concerns, try rephrasing them, asking at a different time, or possibly seek the advice of a friendly third party to check on whether you have a valid concern.
Please feel free to post your thoughts or suggestions in the comments. Thanks for reading!