Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The other parent....

I thought about making this post about Dads - but then as I was thinking about it this afternoon, while watching Mr. M - our neighbor try to teach his 3 year son, his 7 year old daughter, L & E - the basics of back yard football, I decided that it is not a Dad or Mom issue - but rather it is about the other parent. In our neighborhood it is mainly Dad, in other places it might be the working mom married to the stay at home dad or in other family dynamics it might very well be my "other Mommie" or "my other Daddy." What I am driving at is the parent that does not spend most of their time nurturing the child, not the primary caregiver.

I have noticed this very profoundly in our family. H is way more motivated to let them do things for themselves. Not that I am not focused on independence, but he is in different way. L is washing her own hair and using the shower attachment to rinse it herself. I can assure you I did not teach her this. No way. Like I need a bathroom overflowing with water - at 7 pm after a long day of nurturing. E is now washing his own hair and waiting for someone to rinse it for him. Did I teach him this - no way - I wash him up as fast as possible, moving on to the next task.

But H, who is gone alot - will come home and on his days here, roll up his sleeves and dive right into the parenting. He is not afraid to take a chance. He maintains it is because he is lazy and wants them to be able to handle it all on their own in the near future. What do they say, "teach a man to fish......"

I have been viewing the tasks from the point of view of how much more work can this cause me - after an already long day, whereas H is viewing these tasks as how can I make life easier in the coming days.

It is also like this I think at the park. H will let - no encourage them to take risks, to grow - whereas I am more careful, I want everyone safe and in one piece. L would still be on the little slides - if H had not stepped in and taught how to climb the ladders and go for it.

Today Mr. M was charged with the task of explaining to his 3 year old, why incidental pushing and tackling while playing football is ok - but not ok otherwise. It was a talk he was having to have at each play. No matter how tedious it is a lesson worth learning.

Watching this and thinking about H and I's discussion about self help in the tub, made me think about the importance of the "Other parent." The one who is not always the day to day care giver but plays a vital role in the child's development.

As an aside - this observation is not to say that single mom's and dad's cannot raise kids. Not in the least - I am for all intense and purposes 4 or so days a week - a single mother. I can only imagine what it is like to never have the calvary come to the rescue. It must be an uphill battle all the way.

This entry is however about my observation of the dynamic I have witness and thought to comment on. It does take a village to raise a child - I think and I am further discovering that it everyone in the village has a role to play.


IHateToast said...

catching up after the blog holiday. it's after 1 am. so this is why...

i read misread your blog. i thought H waited for you to rinse his hair. i was stunned.

no, katy. not h. eeeeee!

Susan said...

Toooooo Funny! No H is a totally hands on Dad - he rocks!

And H came to me fully housebroken and self sufficient! My kinda of man :)