By Melissa Ford
As our children dragged us kicking and screaming into their teenage years, it became evident; I had underestimated my husband’s parenting abilities. It turns out he had super powers! Not the ordinary kind like the ability to fly, thereby cutting back on fuel emissions, or super human strength to carry bags of groceries, or telepathic powers to detect whether or not our kids were lying.
I’m talking real power - DAD POWER!
Dad Power is a special approach to parenting that most women (early on in the parenting game) consider to be ineffective, wrong, uncivilized, and/or completely missing the mark. In the beginning stages of parenting, Dad Power manifests itself in mind-boggling scenarios such as letting small children stay up past midnight, creating Halloween fun by dumping gooey pumpkin guts on the kitchen floor and inviting barefooted kids to slosh through it, or bringing a child wearing two different shoes to a special event because a matching pair couldn’t be found.
Then, something magical happens. . .
Due to a combination of personal exhaustion from the first decade-and-a-half of parenting, the need to set teenage limits without wavering and, most importantly, your willingness to admit there is more than one way to skin a cat - your husband’s Dad Power begins to make sense. His ideas are prudent, wise, and awesomely effective. Slightly stunned, yet spurred on by physical and mental fatigue, you loosen your grip on the parenting reins, and with gratitude and awe you watch your partner step into his power!
Bit by bit, your partner’s superness emerges - especially when he offers a parental perspective that never would have crossed your mind.
Recently, our son landed an internship to train collegiate athletes, requiring him to relocate from Wisconsin to Illinois. Selecting a roommate, subletting an apartment, and moving four-years of accumulated college crap/personal effects, he sought our collective assistance in formulating his plans. I discussed negotiating rent and the logistics of moving. I thought I covered it all, but late one night, our son called home to talk to his dad about his impending transition. Handing the phone to my husband, I sauntered into the kitchen so I could eavesdrop with ease on their conversation.
As I listened, all I could hear was DAD POWER!
It emanated from the respectful, yet loving tone of my husband’s voice as he conversed with our son. It showed up as he listened intently without interrupting. And, that power emerged from his incisive perspective, when he said to our son, “You’re doing a great job covering your bases. Yes, you want to live close to your work and negotiate a great rental rate, but there’s something more important here: Do your prospective roommates’ habits support you being your best? Do their lifestyles mesh with your intention to be a responsible, dependable, professional intern?”
At that very moment, my heart filled with joy and gratitude - for my husband and his strong desire to love, support, and purposefully guide our adult child. What a wonderful question, asking our son to reflect on his lifestyle, his choices, and in a powerful way, conveying our expectations to him.
Look for your partner’s power sooner than I did.
Appreciate the special way he parents your children. And, acknowledge to yourself that he wants the best for your kids, too, he just has a different way of getting there.