Posted in Family Life, Parenting Culture, For Dads

What can I do to help my husband take on his role as father?


I'm just at a loss right now. I don't know if anyone else has gone through this with their partner, but I feel like hearing from some of you may help. Forgive me if this is long. My husband isn't spending as much time with our son as I'd like nor taking some of the responsibility. It's really at point that unless I ask him to do something or my son has been screaming for a long time, he won't do it. Even then he just does it begrudgingly or he'll do a different task that doesn't involve our son (finish cooking dinner instead of helping our son get ready for dinner or started eating). There are some moments that I can see the father in him but that's all they are, small moments. I can understand some of it. He works long day because of the military and rank. The time at home isn't much but just a few hours before bed. However most of that time goes to watching shows or playing video games to unwind. This includes the weekends where it feels like I'm doing the same thing but Dad just happens to be home. I haven't been able to find work even with my degree and location has partially to do with that so I know that upsets him a bit too. Another thing is my husband never knew his biological father and had been raised through a few different men as his mom dated. Almost all weren't suitable father figures as they were abusive either to him or his mother. Thankfully she did find a person that he does call 'Dad' but I can say that the past still affects him. The last is that he wasn't able to be with his son for about the first six months because of a deployment. He was there for the birth but only for a few days before he had to leave. On the other side of this coin, he said he really wanted to be a father. He even wanted to be the stay-at-home dad. Of course this can't be for a while. Prior to our child, I've seen how he's acted with other people's children and it's beautiful. That's where I fully believed he can be that father more than I could probably be a mother. I have trouble seeing that again. When he initially got home from deployment, he was trying to be but it's like he gave up. I've brought this up with him but it all boils back to the previous issues. It's like he is using them as excuses and just prefers to do his own thing. I've come to think even if I could resolve some of the issues, like have a job, that I'd still be the only one doing everything for our son. Is there a better way to go about this? Does he need more time to accept that he's a father even though it's been about five months for him like he is a deer in headlights with no idea what to do? Am I missing something here? TL/DR: I'm a stay at home mom that does every single thing for our child with little to no help from dad. He excuses it with work, not being here the first six months of his life, and lacking a father growing up. I've brought it up but still nothing. Can I go about this a different way?

  • 2Boys&aDog
    Aug 28, 2018

    I am so sorry for what you’re going through. Being a parent for the first time is certainly not easy and I can only imagine how hard it would be if your significant other was present but not “present”. There is so much to learn and it makes it easier when you can do it together. Perhaps counseling for him to resolve his issues from the past would help? With military, I would think it would be included in your benefits no? Some men really are just not into the infant/baby stage and don’t really form any bonds with their child until he or she is old enough to walk, talk, play, use the potty etc. It may just take time but if he works on his shortfalls they will have a beautiful relationship. As far as you working, I do not believe this will make things easier because not only will you be paying a tremendous amount for childcare, the other responsibilities of the house will still be there, only you will have to do them in your off time which will be stressful. You’ll want to spend that time with your son if you’re at a full time job all week. If you can budget and stay home with your son during these early years it will be worth it, even if your husband doesn’t think so at this time, he will realize the benefits in the future. Best of luck to you.

  • Melissa
    Aug 28, 2018

    I would make him go to a family therapist. This behavior is not okay. Not at all. He is in some sort of deep denial or he doesn’t want a relationship with his son which is even more worrisome. Seek help.. it’s not going to magically fix itself. From what you are saying, his aversion to his son may be deeply rooted in his psyche. Time is not going to fix it...

  • Julie
    Aug 28, 2018

    Part of it could be your child’s age. Men can be really dumb about how to interact with infants. My husband also didn’t have a great role models for parents so while he has always been a great daddy, I see it more and more as our daughter grows and is developing her own personality. When she was really little he would help but it would be brief (like I’d take a shower and he’d be ready to hand her back, or he’d help more by doing house work). He did make a point of holding and talking to her every night when he got home from work to give me a few minutes break, but it was always brief. Now that she’s getting bigger and is starting to truly interact they spend more time together. He and I both work full time at demanding jobs and I am definitely more involved in day to day stuff with her, but he is a lot more involved than I expected so I’m happy.

  • JJ
    Aug 28, 2018

    I dealt with something similar with my partner. His father died when he was very young and his mother dated and married a man who abused her more than him or his siblings. At first he wasn't thrilled with the aspect of becoming a father, but when I started to show he just fell in love. Shortly after our first was born, my partner was hospitalized for the better part of a year for a transplant. Once he was home and recuperated, our finances worked out that he is a SAHD. At first it was really hard for him, but as I forced him into activities with the kids and I and let him know what I expected of him in the chore department, he took to it like a duck to water. I would say just to make sure he is involved more in all aspects of having a family and running a household and hope he catches on and realizes the challenges. That being said, I work close to 80 hours a week on my feet and to help with the transition from work to home, our rule is I get 20 minutes to decompress before tackling most at home issues. That half hour is usually a scalding hot shower and Stephen Colbert on YouTube, but it does the trick to reinvigorate me for the mom duties.

  • Ricardo
    Aug 28, 2018

    As a dad myself I can relate to some extend what he might be feeling and what he might be going through. I think he needs more time. He will, eventually, understand that his son deserves more time and attention. I believe he will com around just give it time.

  • Linda
    Aug 31, 2018

    I can't relate, since my husband will ignore other tasks and play with our daughter instead, but he didn't use to. I guess he didn't realize how difficult it was for me until I went grocery shopping for 2 hours and left him home with our daughter. His tasks were to change her, give her a bottle and put her to sleep, chop onions and add it to the broth and lower the temp on the stove. The outcome, he forgot to change her diaper, forgot to lower the stove, daughter fell off couch and was crying really hard, and he didn't give her a bottle before putting her to sleep. So clearly, he didn't get a handle on things lol. But he realized how much I have to do all day, every day. So he helps so much more now, and he'll never complain if the apartment is a mess or if I didn't cook that day. For a while, I didn't give him a choice in helping. I'd hand her to him and tell him to change her, or feed her, or bathe her, etc. But I'd also hand her to him and tell him to play with her. It's not always work, and he loves making her laugh. Maybe try approaching things differently and give him fun things to do instead so he can form a connection better?

  • Jen
    Sep 21, 2018

    It sounds like he may want to be a dad. But he has to be taught how. People assume this is a given but so many people don't know how. There is no shame in it. Esp when he has no real father figure. Look into a dads class to take usually they are free. I've seen some in my community that offer it for parents. Or call a social service organization and they will guide you. Even one hour a day of quality time with your son can be enough.

  • Ricardo
    Oct 14, 2018

    Maybe he lacks parenting skills or he is afraid of being a responsible daddy. It isn't easy, with the lifestyle change, family change, etc. As a daddy myself, I fully understand what's hurting you, I also suggest in talking about it one on one first before seeking professional help. But talking (communication) is key to get your feelings heard. I hope this helps.

  • Charlotte
    Nov 18, 2018

    My husband does the same think and he is also in the military. We have 2 children and I almost have to beg to get him to do anything.