My husband and I were just kids when we met during our freshman year of college. We fell hard and fast and have been inseparable ever since (minus a nine month break up senior year.) We graduated, got married as just slightly older kids and told ourselves we’d wait at least five years before having a baby so that we could do all the things we wanted to do before becoming parents.
We did. We traveled the world, went back to school, moved to Denver and lived in a tiny studio in the heart of the city. We played to our hearts’ content. Then, five years and eight months after getting married, our son was born. A year and eight months after that, our baby girl followed. (Surprise!)
I knew my husband was a really good man. I always knew he’d be a great dad one day. What I didn’t anticipate was exactly just how much I’d learn about the depths of who he is by raising children with him. I didn’t expect to learn so much about fatherhood simply just by watching him.
I didn’t expect to learn so much about fatherhood simply just by watching him.
With the awareness of the strength with which my husband leads as I father, I also hold the tension that not everyone has this experience with their husbands, partners or even with their own fathers. I’d like to share my experience with a few of the things I’ve learned about fatherhood by watching my husband.
Fathers are nurturers.
The script that we are often handed tells us that mothers are the nurturers, the caregivers and the boo-boo kissers. That mothers are the soft place to land, while fathers are the rule enforcers. Sure, fathers can teach life lessons and have silly fun with their children, but nurturing and comforting isn’t their strong suit.
My husband has completely smashed this preconception that I held, however subconsciously. He is so tender with our children. He worries just as much (if not more) than I do about their safety. He is incredibly patient with them (definitely more so than I).
He talks through big feelings with our pre-schooler. He holds our toddler close when she skins her knee or gets irrationally upset about not being given the “right” piece of toast. He never makes them feel small but makes space for all of their emotions. He nurtures their hearts, minds and spirits. He does it because it’s inherent and comes with the role of father.
He nurtures their hearts, minds and spirits.
Fathers are equals.
Fathers are equals, and I’m not just talking about diaper-change duty and late-night bottle feeds. (Although to be fair, my husband has changed probably just as many diapers as I have.) My husband has shown me that fathers are equals in all things when it comes to raising children. From making decisions on parenting philosophies, to researching school and childcare options. From caring about the mental and physical well-being of a child, to reading up on developmental milestones and teaching positive behavior.
Fathers hurt equally when their child feels left out or bullied. They rejoice equally when their child takes their first steps or gets into the college of their choice. They are equally as nervous when their child jumps off the swings or gets behind the wheel of their first car. They dream just as much for who their child will be and all of the beautiful things they will experience.
Fathers can change the narrative.
We have a boy and a girl in our family. Pink and blue. Baby dolls and dinosaurs. Except, I have a son who feels deeply and who is tender and kind. While he loves wrestling and playing with his Transformers, he also loves dancing and getting his nails painted. Similarly, our 2-year-old daughter will choose a frilly dress 10/10 times and knows every word to the Frozen II soundtrack. She is also the most strong-willed, determined, adventurous fire cracker of a child you’ll ever meet. She can rage with the best of them and has dirt on her face 90 percent of the time.
Instead of telling him to “buck up,” or “brush it off,” my husband holds our son when he cries and meets him in all of his emotion. He compliments his nails and claps loudly for his dance routines. He wouldn’t dream of taming our baby girl’s fire. He wouldn’t dream of telling her that she’s “too much.” Instead, he celebrates her passion and delights in the strong little woman she is.
My husband holds our son when he cries and meets him in all of his emotion.
He is changing the narrative that so many of us are handed. That boys are one thing, and girls are another. He’s teaching our son that it’s OK to cry, and our daughter that it’s OK to be angry. That it is OK to be exactly who they are, all of the time.
He’s showing me that fathers are so much more than a side-kick to their partner. Fathers are so much more than clueless “babysitters.” He is teaching me to expect so much more from dads because they are not only capable but because they are invaluable.
What are your thoughts on the importance of fathers? What positive impact do they make?
Image via Taylor Butters