Every night I pray to god to help me be the best parent and the best wife I can be. This desire comes out of knowing that my family is my highest priority and I don’t want to screw anything up. As a parent and a wife, I want to get it all right. That is why I am happy to welcome a post from Keith Zafren today. He provides personal coaching and practical tools to help men become great dads. He is an engaging speaker and writer who has inspired fathers for 30 years from all walks of life, from executives to inmates, to become the dad their children need and want. You may want to check out his new book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had and/or his website: thegreatdadsproject.org
By Keith Zafren
Someone once wrote, “Behind every great man stands a surprised woman.” I hope that’s not entirely true, though I understand the humor that points to this reality. That quip plays off the idiom that behind every great man stands a great woman. The point is that women have tremendous power to affect men in numerous ways, including making us far better than we ever would be without your love, belief, and encouragement in our lives. If women truly understood that most of us men are starved for affirmation, you would hold the key to unlocking our greatness as men, husbands, partners, and fathers. This post will reveal four ways to help your husband become a better dad.
You’ll quickly notice that criticizing your man, though entirely natural and often well-deserved, isn’t on the list. Why? Because that common reaction works against what you really want—your desire to help him grow and listen. We men resist criticism because it plays directly into our father wound. When we didn’t get enough from our fathers, we long for it all our lives. Criticism feels like salt in our wound. We recoil, resist, dig in our heels, and fight back. That doesn’t lead to much transformation—the very thing you’re hoping for. These four strategies will work much better at helping your husband become the great father you know he can be.
How To Help Your Husband Be A Good Father
Trust your husband with your children.
Many of us men feel inadequate to take care of our children, even though we often want to. Most of us never took care of younger siblings. We didn’t babysit. We didn’t play with dolls, play house, or make believe we were nurturing caregivers. Instead, we shot things, blew things up, and slammed our bodies into each other, feeling very manly. Seriously, most of us feel bewildered when we first become fathers. We need help. We need training. But if our partners or wives critique our early efforts to father, or worse, don’t trust us to do so, those crummy feelings of inadequacy many men know all too well rise to the surface and can quickly shut down our desire to draw close to our children.
Please see my blog post about How Women Can Help Their Men Bond With Their Babies for more on this topic.
Praise your husband’s efforts to nurture.
Since so many men are starved for affirmation, praise feels like a drink of cool, refreshing water to our parched masculine souls. When we’re praised for our efforts, we want to do more of whatever it is we’re praised for. I hate to admit it’s a bit like Pavlov’s research on dogs, but if the shoe fits, wear it. Men love to please and receive praise for doing so. When our women praise us for what often feel like our stumbling attempts to nurture, we light up. And we usually want to try it again.
To hear words such as, “Honey, when you scooped Blake up after he fell off his bike, did you notice how quickly he relaxed in your arms and how safe he felt with you? You’re such a great dad!” Or, “I loved watching you read to Emily tonight. She seemed so happy to feel your love and care. We’re so lucky to have such a great dad in the house.”
Every time you see your man make an effort to nurture your children, praise him for it, and watch him grow right before your eyes to become a better, more engaged and loving dad.
Make home a place your husband wants to be.
Why do you think so many men spend too much time at work and not enough with their families and children? The answer is because at work, we know how to get the affirmation and praise we crave. Most of us have been educated and trained to do what we do. We’ve put a lot of effort into it and we love to fix problems. At work, there are usually lots of problems that need fixing. And when we do what we’re good at doing, when we perform, we often get rewarded in some way—a pat on the back, a raise, a promotion, a parking spot, a nicer office, even just an “employee of the week” recognition feels great.
At home, the problems we face often defy fixing— crying babies, sickness, exhaustion, a sometimes cranky wife, overloaded schedules, kids who won’t comply, you name it. And if we feel inadequate, overwhelmed, or criticized, we gravitate, often without even knowing why, to where we’re getting the kudos we crave. Sometimes we find it easier to get those at work than at home.
What if your man felt more praised and affirmed at home than he does at work? What if he felt the people at home were happier to see him than his colleagues are at work? Where do you think he would want to spend more time?
Affirm him as a great dad.
Imagine what your man would feel if you said, “You are such a great dad. I feel lucky to have married a man who gives so much to our children. And our children are blessed beyond belief to have you as their dad.” It doesn’t even have to all be true—yet. You may be speaking of the vision you see in the future more than the man you see in the moment, but that’s okay. Really, it’s great! Speak us into reality. Create the man you want by affirming what you believe he can become. It works. Trust me! In fact, it works both ways. Criticize and belittle, and you’ll create a man you wish to divorce. Praise and affirm, and you’ll empower your man to become the partner and father he longs to be and you wish he’d become.
Behind every great man stands a woman who knows how to affirm her man, even if she has to add a little vision to her praise. You have tremendous power to help your man become the man, partner, and father you want him to be.
I hope you found this advice from Keith Zafren for how to help your husband be a better dad and husband helpful. He has it in him to be a good dad and you can help him with your positive guidance. Hopefully he helps you be a better mom too with his positive guidance.
I would like to leave you with an inspiring quote about being a good dad.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.” -Jim Valvano
We can all give that gift to each other. Give the gift of believing in your husband and children and showing you believe in them through your actions and words. Help each other grow through positive communication.