My life is my kids. I am with them all day long. I am the master of researching. I read parenting books like they’re candy. I know what mothering camps I belong in, and I am passionate. I’m the one who goes to the doctors appointments, drives the kids to tae kwon do, and knows what they should be doing for school. We have routines to our days, and conducting my brood of 6 oftentimes feels like I’m conducting an orchestra that is constantly in tuning mode.
My husband is self-employed, and will often come home for an hour if he has the time. I can get my highly distractible kid finally down and working on writing his report, when my husband will pop his head in and ask if he can borrow him to mow the lawn for a little bit, to which my son will enthusiastically jump up and run out of the house. He will sneak them food that he’s snacking on before supper. It can completely mess up the flow as a child drops their chore and runs to his lap for a story. We are not always on the same page on a lot of issues, from discipline, bedtimes, or even chores. He works hard to support our family, writes me love notes, is a godly man, and he is a loving and involved Dad.
But he’s not the “professional” parent. He has another job. Oftentimes I discount his opinion because I know he doesn’t understand the “why,” hasn’t done the research, or I assume his opinion isn’t as well thought out or agonized over as mine is. He’s not with the kids day in and day out like I am. He doesn’t always see the consequences.
And in the messy, stressed out, rushed moments, I erupt and treat him like he’s stupid. He’s far from stupid.
There are a few things I’ve learned to remind myself when I get stuck in this attitude of annoyance.
1) Having a dad is a precious thing.
My dad left when I was 5, and my time with him was basically a couple weeks of summer…sometimes. I cannot help but be grateful that my kids have a dad who is there. He asks about their day, and sets strong limits for them. He wrestles with them, and reads them stories. He comes home on his breaks because he just wants to see how they are doing. This is not a hinderance to my children. This is an enormous blessing.
2) God designed me to be a mom, and him to be a dad, and those are two distinct roles.
While it’s good to be on the same page of rules and schedules for the sake of consistency, it’s not important that we each respond the same, act the same, and interact the same. God designed each mother for her children. Likewise, he designed each father for his children. If your husband is more strict than you, than maybe that’s because God is giving something to your family equation that you do not bring to the table.
3) He reports to God, not to me.
For the sake of communication, he will run scheduling things past me, and we always make decisions together. Ultimately, I need to remember that he reports to God for how he acts as a father. I am not his master.
4) Respectful communication is essential.
It’s easy when I’m in teaching and correcting mode all day long to just teach and correct my husband like he’s one of the kids. But honestly, he deserves more respect than that. We need to sit down and talk it out in a way that does not resemble giving marching orders to a toddler.
Just like me, he needs to be heard.
Even when I think he’s wrong about something, I need to listen to his opinion. He counts. Just because he’s not here as much as me doesn’t mean his thoughts matter less. If needed, I have often found that having a mentor to help me navigate times of intense disagreement to be essential.
Gretchen always dreamed of being a missionary, ever since she was a little girl. She always imagined she would live in a rural jungle village, surrounded by natives in strange costumes, speaking a language she didn’t understand, as she tried to show them God’s love. That plan was consistently derailed, and she ended up marrying a farm boy, who moved her out of the city and into a rural farming community in the frozen tundra. There she is surrounded by their 6 hilarious kids in strange costumes, who are at times hard to understand, and she tries to show them God’s love. She writes at www.gretchenronnevik.com about faith, homeschooling, knitting, and life with kids and their barnyard animals.