Jerome couldn’t believe what he was hearing. His twenty-five-year-old daughter was on the phone with marriage struggles and asking if she could come home after just two years. He never thought his children would struggle like this.
“My husband doesn’t treat me special. He expects me to do all the cleaning all the time. He acts like it’s my job as his wife to do what I’m told. I thought I could make it work like you and Mom did when we were children, but it’s 2018 for crying out loud!”
“What do you mean, ‘make it work like you and mom’?’”Jerome shifted uneasily in his seat and paused the baseball game he was watching.
“You know, the whole ‘lord of the house’ thing. That may have been alright for your generation.”
“It was never alright, sweetheart,” Jerome answered carefully. “And it’s not alright now.”
Jerome started to think about all the wrong signals he’d sent his daughter about what marriage looks like. He realized he hadn’t considered the message his own actions telegraphed to his children. He thought long and hard, he wrote some stuff down, and then he apologized to his wife. Between them, they came up with the following list of 5 signals dads should avoid sending their children about marriage.
1. Once you’re together, you don’t need to try anymore.
Jerome and his wife both work long hours. They have for years. They love each other, but they are tired all the time. Having kids left even less energy for each other than they’d expected. All told, Jerome and his wife were still taking each other for granted. It was a relationship that lacked creativity, didn’t have time for romance, and even eschewed playful passion because they weren’t sure they had the energy. They liked each other well enough, but they were going through the motions and it showed.
2. Men get a free pass on housework.
Jerome hadn’t actually thought this through, but his dad never did dishes, laundry, or picked up around the house-Jerome just followed suit. But Jerome and his wife both worked hard, they both got tired, and they both could use some off time. Why not share the chores then share the downtime together?
3. Mothers raise the kids – dads just help.
Jerome’s friend Sal put it this way, “This reminds me of the dud/dad classic, ‘I’m babysitting my kids today.’ No, you’re not! You don’t babysit your own children, you do parenting – dad parents, mom parents – you both do.” Sal also pointed out how being an active parenting partner improved his relationship with his kids and his wife, as well as increasing his authority.
4. Dad rules the roost.
Love and respect lead to love and respect.See 3, above. If you want to be recognized as a leader, then the most effective move is to invest yourself in those you want to lead and to serve them. Love and respect lead to love and respect. Roost-ruling is not only out of date, it’s flat-out ineffective as a leadership tool.
5. It’s okay for men to act entitled (or like a bully) in the home.
Entitlement is a hot political buzzword nowadays. Entitlement is when anyone (rich or poor) feels like they are owed de facto special treatment. This attitude can quickly get out of hand and lead to unreasonable demands.