Are You a “Fun Daddy”?
by Joey & Carla Link
There are unforgettable moments in parenting, both good and bad. Once, when walking down the hallway of our home, I (Carla) heard one of my children refer to me as the “Mean Mom”. I was stunned. I will admit our standards were tougher than their friends; they had to get their chores and schoolwork done or suffer the consequences, they had to get along with each other, they had to show respect to us and others (I didn’t think “Mean Mom” was particularly respectful), they had to put the needs of others before their own… but these were our standards, not my standards! So where in the world did “Mean Mom” come from?!
I waited until I calmed down, then asked one of my daughters what our son had meant when he said this. She told me Michael was mad I had told his father Michael did not have the freedom to play ball with him because he had been giving me trouble all day. My husband told me he had so little time with the kids he wanted it to be positive time, not negative time, so he and Michael were going to play ball. I must’ve threatened war because no ball was played that day, and both my husband and son were irritated with me as a result.
My kids referred to my husband as “Fun Daddy”, and now I knew why. We were leaving for a family camping trip in a few days. I told Joey that I was going to be “Fun Mommy” on this trip and he got to be “Mean Daddy”. He thought this was a great idea. He was sure the kids would obey his every command and decided this would be a great time to show me how to parent.
It wasn’t long before “Mean Daddy” was shouting at the kids and calling for my help. This experience showed him just how tedious and exhausting trying to be consistent when training kids all day could be. We decided together that “Mean Mommy”/“Mean Daddy” and “Fun Mommy”/“Fun Daddy” were flying out the window. In their place, “United Mom and Dad” were coming to roost in our home. How did we accomplish this?
- Talk, talk, talk. Communication between us as spouses working together as a team was key. We set aside one weekly date night a month for “kid talk”. We discussed how they were doing in school, chores, getting along with others and the character training we were working on with each child. The best way for us to see progress was to give grades. We kept a chart and when they got below a “B” in a given area, we knew it was time to bump them back up. We determined what consequences we would use for certain misbehaviors or bad attitudes and we both stuck to them.
- Talk, talk and talk some more. Communication between us and the kids came next. Instead of picking on them when they did something that displeased us, we set aside a time each week to talk with them about it (individually of course). We asked them how they could step it up in the areas they were struggling in, and how we could help them accomplish this. When they came up with ways themselves, they took ownership of them and stuck to them. When my 5 year old daughter wished she could write so she could make a note like her siblings did to remind herself to make her bed before she came down for breakfast, I had her draw a picture of a bed and we put it where she could easily see it every morning. She rarely forgot to make it after that.
- Keep your marriage relationship #1. It takes work to keep your marriage relationship a priority when you are busy with your kids. Our weekly date nights didn’t have to be expensive. A picnic in the park was one of our favorites. Be creative. Swap babysitting with friends. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to have weekly dates; it just has to be a non-negotiable appointment. We also saved money to go on weekend overnights about every 3 months. Feeling good about each other helped us be positive when we worked together on our parenting.
- Get “Fun Daddy” or “Fun Mommy” out. I would tell the kids “Fun Daddy” was coming home with a surprise for them, and he would take them out for pizza and miniature golfing. “Fun Mommy” would decide there were no chores to be done one day and played games with the kids instead. Kids need to know their parents have a fun side too and enjoy being with them.
Do you and your spouse have a special way when working together to parent your kids? How do you stay consistent? The Mom’s Notes presentation “Parenting as Partners” will help with this. When you order the Notes for $5.00 of “Parenting as Partners” in the month of June, you will get the CD for free!