I think I am a dad shamer. Not all dads; just my husband.
A new poll, by C.S. Mott Childrenâ€™s Hospital, at the University of Michigan, found half of fathers admit to being criticized about their parenting style or choices, most commonly by their partner.
My husband was not part of the poll, but he sees where the dads are coming from.
I think heâ€™s a great dad. The best. Heâ€™s kind, present and patient but we donâ€™t always agree on discipline.Â He likes to correct behaviour as it happens. I am more â€œpick your battlesâ€ and â€œnatural consequences.â€
As a result, this is the sequence that regularly plays out in our home: one of our sons does something wrong. My husband says: â€œStop,â€ and then I reply with my own: â€œStop, itâ€™s not a big deal. Let it go.â€ Heâ€™s parenting and then I am right there behind him parenting his parenting.
I donâ€™t think I know more. I just donâ€™t want my kids to hear: â€œNoâ€ all day.
Dr. Sarah Clark is the co-director of the poll. She wasnâ€™t surprised to hear the fathers felt the finger-pointing was coming from their childâ€™s other parent (44 per cent).
â€œA lot of moms donâ€™t even recognize that is what they are doing because there are still a lot of gender stereotypes that moms play into, that dads are almost babysitters or need to be trained,â€ Clark said.
When the University of Michigan conducted a similar poll in 2017 with mothers, they identified their own mother or father (37 per cent) as the person they felt most criticized by, followed by the childâ€™s other parent.
“We donâ€™t want to wake up and shame our husbands and fathers of our children, it just kind of happens,â€ said Dr. Caroline Buzanko, who works as a psychologist in Calgary.
Buzanko blames momsâ€™ critiquing partly on biology.
â€œOur brain is structured in such a way that we only notice the negative,â€ Buzanko said. â€œItâ€™s much easier to detect negative outcomes. Once we see one negative situation, we are on the lookout for more. And our brain takes that in. Thatâ€™s how we start noticing all the negative, negative, negative.â€
She also believes this generation of mothers have a lot of anxiety and self doubt over how their kids are going to turn out and want co-parents to be on the same page.
â€œWe want dad and our partners to follow along with all the rules of what we should be doing. It also eases some of our own anxiety about what we are doing. It helps to validate the practices that we are partaking in,â€ Buzanko said.
Sixty-seven per cent of the dads polled said they felt criticized over how they discipline their child, followed by what they give their child to eat or drink, being too rough and not paying enough attention to their kids.
Clark is concerned over the negative reaction some fathers have towards criticism. Twenty-eight per cent admitted to feeling less confident as a parent while 19 per cent said it led them to be less involved. She also celebrates the results that found many of the dads reacted in a positive way.
â€œAlmost half of our dads said that in response to being criticized, they either asked an expert â€” maybe the childâ€™s doctor or teacher â€” or they looked something up in maybe a parenting book or online,â€ said Clark. â€œThey are seeking information, trying to either reinforce their position or find out if they really do need to may a change.â€
â€œSometimes itâ€™s hard to separate out whatâ€™s the style difference and whatâ€™s really a meaningful health and safety issue.â€
In the official report, the researchers did not use the phrase â€œdad shaming.â€ Clark said thatâ€™s because the dads they spoke with didnâ€™t think the criticism they were receiving was actual shaming, unlike moms.
â€œA lot of the criticism with mom is: â€˜You are not doing it right.â€™ I think sometimes the thing with dads is more: â€˜Youâ€™re not doing it like me.’â€
And with that, I know I need to bite my tongue. And if I really do have concerns about my husbandâ€™s parenting, bring it up later when our sons arenâ€™t around to hear it.
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– Global News