Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Do you live with a Danger Dad?

No, he’s not a masked guy roaming the neighborhood, cape emblazoned with a giant “D,” seeking to endanger innocent children. He’s the father of your children! I have two friends who constantly worry about leaving their young children with their husband for any length of time. It’s not that these dads are criminals, or that they’re intentionally harming their children. So what is it? Does mom feel like only she can care for her children the right way? Is dad just too laid back? Do mom and dad have different parenting styles? Is mom too over-protective? Does dad need a little lesson in child development and safety?

I trust my husband with our kids, but it does feel different to me when they are with him. My husband and I have different personalities and are tolerant of different things. I know what sets my husband off so if I let the kids do something he won’t like, I wait until he isn’t there. Sneaky, I know. But, I would never intentionally place my children in a dangerous situation and I don’t think he would either.

But some stories I have heard from frustrated moms are shocking. Dad left an infant unattended in a bathtub. Mom came home unexpectedly to find the kids, with dad’s blessing, jumping off the roof into the pool. Security was called at the movie theater because dad allowed his 7-year-old daughter to take her 3-year-old sibling to the bathroom and they couldn’t find their way back. What’s a mother to do?

Of course it’s not just fathers.  We all have to learn to parent. Sometimes we use poor judgment and learn by trial and error, and it’s important to verbalize our concerns when we have them and hear our partner’s perspectives on safety or other parenting issues. Every parent should take a step back and consider a few “what-if’s” before putting their children into certain situations. Kids may be developmentally unable to perceive a dangerous situation; that’s why they have parents to protect them!

It’s been said that we learn to parent by watching our own parents. That’s great if your parents were around and knew what they were doing, but the make-up of families has changed over the past few decades. Mom isn’t baking in the kitchen and taking care of the kids while dad works. With changes in the economy, it’s not uncommon for both mom and dad to be working, or even unemployed. Parenting has changed and now it’s up to both parents to partake. My husband’s dad worked three jobs and barely saw him throughout the week.   So as I write this I wonder, where did he get his parenting perceptions from?  Probably his mother.

I encourage parents to think about the changing role of parents today and consider what they each have to contribute. Whether you’re sharing the responsibilities of raising children with a Danger Dad or a Danger Mom, remember that parenting is a partnership.

– Debbie

Photo courtesy of David Torres.

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