My kids sometimes complain about how I am always asking them to do stuff. Of course, I am their mom, and it is part of my job to make sure they are not forgetting to do things that need to be done. And of course they are going to not do plenty of things because they are kids who would rather do something fun than their homework or chores or put their belongings where they need to be. The only way I can seem to motivate them to do certain things a good part of the time is to insist that those things get done first before they do something more fun. So I am often seen as a nag who only wants to get things done and doesn’t want them to have fun or like to do anything fun myself.
I definitely do like to have fun and am always encouraging them to get things done quickly so that there is more time to do something fun afterwards. That part gets forgotten though. Sometimes the fun things do happen first so there is a balance. And at some point they will need to learn to be responsible for themselves without all the reminders from me, so I try to leave some things for them to get done on their own accord, like homework.
Enter my spouse. I’m beginning to think he took a class way back when called, “How to Opt Out of Parenting 101.” He has not been nearly as in tune as I am with all of the things that the kids need to get done and by what deadline, not just because he’s the dad and dads typically are less involved with those things, but because he doesn’t choose to be involved. He doesn’t exactly have the same sense of self-initiative as I do either and doesn’t typically like anyone else telling him how to spend his time. Therefore, he is not one to suggest to anyone else how to spend his or her time.
Sometimes he even does the kids’ chores for them when they haven’t been done rather than making sure the kids to do them because it’s more convenient for him and avoids the kids seeing him in a negative light. And he would also rather do something fun than do work or supervise the kids getting through their “to do” list. Consequently, the kids view him as the more fun parent.
This has been a source of frustration for many years, because not only is he not being as involved as he could be with encouraging the kids to get their things done, but he is perpetuating the kids’ viewpoints of us that he is the fun parent and I am the nag. Even asking them once in a while to clean up something would show that I am not the only one who cares about how messy our house is and that I am asking them to clean up not because I am a neat freak or that I am trying to make their life miserable but because I am trying to teach them to be responsible for their belongings and that they should chip in and help when they can.
I believe in most households with two parents, the parents typically divide up the responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage, etc. with or without the kids chipping in to help with those responsibilities. Every household is different with regard to which parent handles which tasks. What I don’t think should be divided is the parenting responsibilities. And by that I mean parents need to be on the same page with what values and character traits they wish to teach their children, and they both need to work at modeling those behaviors and encouraging them in their children. One parent shouldn’t do most of the parenting tasks while the other gets to sit back and have most of the fun and consequently be viewed as the fun parent. That’s really not fair to the other parent and can be very harmful to the relationships that parent has with the child(ren). Parents also need to support each other rather than undermine each other, because kids will take advantage when they see there is not a united front.
I am not looking to be best friends with my kids or have them view me as the fun or better parent, but it would be nice if my spouse would be more conscious of what he could do to help dispel the myth that Mom is just a nag and doesn’t like to have fun or see anyone else have fun.
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