We get a lot of questions from moms seeking advice. Here’s a roundup of our guidance on things our moms want to know (paraphrasing general themes):
Question: I have 3 daughters, the oldest about to turn 13 (No sons). My husband keeps trying to get the girls into sports, and last week was teaching them how to change the oil on his truck. I know it’s not exactly PC, but I am worried about them turning into “tomboys”. Am I overreacting?
MomSquad: Men have a different way of parenting than you do as a mother. Your husband has something different, although just as valuable, to offer your girls than you do. He may want to teach them about teamwork, to develop their coordination skills and to gain confidence. He may want to know they will be able to take care of themselves in any situation. Having your daughters exposed to what might be considered traditional ‘boy’ stuff is perfectly fine, especially because it's their father's idea and gift to them. And remember, you have just as much an opportunity to teach them, for instance, how to bake a pie and sew. Don’t be afraid of your ideas of gender roles – your girls are smart and can figure this out on their own. Your husband is also smart enough to know what he wants to teach his girls and how to engage in father-daughter time! He may never be able to help them pick out the in-style outfits at the store, but how lucky you - and they- are to have a husband who parents his daughters well! A definite E for Effort here.
Question: My husband and I recently had our first child, and while we used to never fight and thought we agreed on most things, having a child has exposed the fact that we have strong differences on proper parenthood…and we’re only a few months in. I guess we assumed we’d agree on parenting roles. Help?
MomSquad: Since there is no parenting handbook, and no one right way to parent, every parent ends up learning what works best for them with each individual child through practice, trial and yes, even error. Please don't assume that your way is the right way, or the only way. Men tend to have different parenting styles than women, and parenting styles also differ from individual to individual. Be sure to give space to your husband’s style. Thank him for helping out with any part of parenting, even if and when he does it differently than you would. Allow him space to learn from his mistakes and even your example. Express your desired outcome for your child and ask to pick your husband's brain in regards to how to accomplish this outcome. Avoid jumping in, fixing or taking over a task he is already handling, even if it's different than you would do it or he isn't doing it correctly in your perspective. This is very disrespectful and may lead to you doing most of the parenting on your own and a lack of unity and intimacy between the two of you. Maybe the baby's diaper isn't staying on the way he fastened it. "I would love for the baby's diaper to stay on. Can I borrow your brain to figure out why it's not and how to make sure it doesn't keep falling off?" Remember that as moms, it’s often our nature and instinct to be hyper-protective, which plays with our worst fears and often leads us to be controlling. Chances are, your husband knows what he is doing too. He's smart, he's an adult, he wants what is best for your child and... he will figure it out.
Question: I am not a Mom…yet. I see my sisters and neighbors who have kids all being what I’d call ‘great parents’, they seem so organized and have schedules and their kids are doing well in school- it seems like they are already on the honor roll and only in pre-school. I am just not that organized and worried I won’t do as good a job. I find it intimidating to the point where it makes me hesitant to even have children, even though I want to. What should I do?
MomSquad: Do you ever browse Facebook or Instagram and see your friends posting pictures and videos of themselves having fun? Out for dinner, at the beach, at Disneyland on vacation, or smiling and smiling while hugging friends at the school reunion you skipped? One word: Appearances. People want to share and show their best life. The same is true in person with Parenting. Just because you see your girlfriends with seemingly great parenting skills, believe us, there is plenty of tumult going on behind the scenes. Yes, you can develop better mothering skills and become more organized, and there are plenty of “mommy” classes you can take, but there is no ‘right’ type of mothering. Your love and your instinct regarding your child is the best parent for them. Choose faith over fear, and don't worry about your identity and personality being a part of how you raise your kids. Also, don’t be afraid to search out other moms and get to know them, or to join or form local support groups, which can be organized via your local church or even online via social media. [MomSquad.com is also a great resource!] Every mom (and dad!) struggles in their own way with “how to do this right”, and the truth is there is no defined right or perfect, there is just the best you can do with the time and resources and abilities you are blessed enough to receive. If you jump in the pool with Michael Phelps, you probably aren’t going to beat him in a 100-meter race, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to swim to the best of your ability. So, come on in, the water’s fine!
Question: In my household, we often have a news program going in the background on TV. With political coverage heating up significantly for the upcoming presidential election, my 11-year-old daughter asked me recently how I plan to vote. I told her I hadn’t made up my mind, but that really isn’t true; I’m 99% sure, but wasn’t certain how she’d react if I told her my choice. I didn’t expect to get into politics with my kids this early. What do I do?
MomSquad: Consider taking the opportunity to use this as a teaching moment for your very attentive and impressive 11-year-old. Talk her through your values, walk her through some of the issues and your reasoning, ask her what she has heard or felt, and let her in on your decision. If you want your decision to be anonymous, it's okay for you to tell her that as well, or ask her to keep your confidence and let her know you trust her to do that.
What questions do you have that we might help answer? Ask your question in the comments below.