Lots of people say that it takes two parents to raise a family. For many reasons this is a statement that most people would agree with; especially if there are multiple children in their home. But for many mothers they are married but raising the kids alone so that Dad can work outside of the home and make a living. This arrangement often and unfortunately causes a gap between dad and the kids that seems to always be bridged by mom. Even though there are two parents in the home; only one seems to be responsible for the endless list of to-do essentials when it comes to child rearing.
It is first appropriate to point out that Dad or Mom (whichever parent is away the most) is in fact doing their part and performing what they can to make sure that needs are met. Earning an income is perhaps one of the most important qualities of parenthood. But, it still seems that having a partner in life who doesn’t really partner with you when it comes to the hardest, most constant job of all can leave mom in an often resentful and overwhelmed spot. There are families where mom just took over once the kids were born and left no real spot for dad to help or pitch in. As the years flew by, dad sat back eating pork rinds assuming that mom just wanted things this way and that since she was better at it; he didn’t have to intercede. Eventually the newness and excitement of tending to children wears off for every mother and they secretly wish and mourn for help.
On top of that it may be worse to be a married single parent than just a single parent. At least if you are single you realize that the burden of responsibility will sit on your shoulders and you can’t spend your days resenting your spouse for just not being there. When you are married there are certain ideals of parenting that each of us bring to the child rearing table and we just naturally assume that mom and dad will each take on their specific roles. When they don’t, can’t are unable or unwilling to ~ it leaves one parent with more to do than they can handle. This has an impact on how well they parent and how they feel as a parent as well.
Married, but raising the kids alone creates an environment in the home that is completely one sided. The children can be sitting right next to dad on the couch yet will still holler for mom to get them a drink or sign a paper. This can make dad feel completely left out of the loop and irritated at the same time. Somehow, there needs to be balance in the midst of the chaos. Somehow children deserve to know that they have two parents equipped to meet their needs and that although they may go about things differently; the end result is still satisfactorily.
When one parent is left up to their own resources when it comes to raising children they are left with no alternatives or choices that can help their children. They only have the faculties to answer questions, deal with discipline, help with homework or endure life in the way they know how and are not allowing their children to see that there are two sides to every coin. Dads input can be insightful and inspiring, but if he is never around to give it or feels that it won’t be accepted and remains quiet – the children are the ones not benefiting.
Another factor in being married but raising the children alone is that mom never really can get a break. If she has to leave for the store- the kids go with her. If she wants to get away for a short vacation – she can’t because of guilt. There is a family dynamic in place that states if mom is not around things will not be dealt with properly which causes constant worry and fret as well as the inability to get away and smell the roses. These much needed breaks can literally save a parent from insanity.
The questions returns to how can this be fixed. For most couples this happens almost accidentally and without notice. It can be fixed in several ways. The first is that the parent who bears much of the responsibility begins seeing what their partner does that keeps them away as a benefit. Reminding the kids that they couldn’t buy the new TV or that they are only afforded the chance to go out and eat a few times a week because Dad works so hard is necessary. Additionally, when dad is home allowing him to feel comfortable in his role of caretaker is essential. If he tries to play the “go ask you mother” card; swiftly redirect the kids. Leaving the house to leave him with the children for several hours in a row will build his confidence and the children’s confidence in his abilities. He might not make the spaghettios just like mom did – but they were good anyways!
Another essential ingredient is that all parents need to know when to say when and be able to tell their spouse when things have begun to be too much. That isn’t an admission of failure or inability to parent but rather a quality that will make you a better parent. Slowly, the kids can learn to depend on dad and dad can learn the a,b,c’s of childrearing that he may have missed out on to become a helpful partner in the parenting phase of life. It really does take two parents to raise children well. Marred but raising the kids alone is never something that happens overnight or that can be blamed on the parent who is away or seemingly unequipped to deal. It takes two people to build the structure of a home that operates in this manner and it will take two to renovate when the need arises. With a little give and take from both parties; things can be balanced again in no time.