Even as a stay at home dad, the boys competition over mama is much greater than their competition for my time. For example, I could be on the phone 20 minutes without being disturbed. My wife can't be on the phone 20 seconds before I am shooing a child away from her. One may think I could be sore about this lack of gripping attention. Quite the contrary. I could have guessed this would have happened even before I had kids because I saw the same things at St. Joseph Children's Home.
There's something about moms and their ability to connect with small children. One of my theories is that it has to do with affection. It could be that mom is home more or that when she is home, more of her time is spent touching children (in appropriate manners). At. St. Joseph's we had some strong willed women who could show affection as well. They were dedicated and really knew their business. Children gravitated to them especially in time of need. As a matter of fact, in our youngest department with kids ranging in age from 3 to 5, I would approximate women logged over 95% of the hours.
What's interesting to note is that when I worked alone, the children would open up in the exact same manner when they needed anything. But, they didn't compete for my time. This also held true in the classroom where I obviously worked alone. In other words, I didn't have children crying for their moms when I was teaching. Although I wasn't out to win any popularity contests, most of my students really liked me. This has led me to believe that while children will take affection from dad, there are times they would rather have it from mom if there is a choice.
|Bill Cosby performing "Himself."|
I've always felt there was a lot of truth to be garnered from that skit. Moms are special and I've never met a man who could really take their place. Even though the opposite is true as well, I've never actually witnessed children competing for a dad's time or at least not nearly on the same level. Keep in mind I know there are homes out there where this precisely happens but with all my experience, I would have assumed seeing it by now.
I believe my boys would perch on my wife's legs all day if we would let them. The only time they have ever been disciplined for hanging on mom too much is when I can tell she's getting a bit tired of it. (Even then, I'm not too hard on the boys). The only thing that bothers me from time to time is with all the competition for mom's attention; I worry mom doesn't win often enough. By that I mean if other mothers are like my wife, when do you carve the time and place all the attention on yourself? At. St. Joseph's, it was different because the house parents were compensated employees. All the house parents (outside of myself and a couple of other ladies) also had their own homes.
As a dad, I really feel one of my roles is to encourage and prop up my wife on the highest pedestal possible. Of course, she will read this and get emotional (because her husband is so great) but the truth is I have an alternative motive. I want my boys to have the deepest respect and love for their mom because in some way, it translates to being a good man, a good husband, and one day, a good father. If this means competing and /or clinging on to my wife for a small period of time in their lives, so be it. These days won't last forever. One day, the competition will be over and, in the end, all of us will hopefully be winners.
I guess the lesson in the end to all parents but especially to the dads- be patient with your kids. Back away from time to time and let the kids have their time with mom. But when you see your better half getting a little tired, be there to peel the kids away for a while. This is a competition after all. The kids do not get to win every time. (wink)
All my best to parents and children who still cling to their momma's legs (figuratively and literally). I'll be interested to read the comments. I'd like to know if there is a competition for mama in your home and how it is handled.
I read an interesting parenting question I would like to answer on Friday. The general topic concerns kids failing and how it has been handled on the children I have worked with. I look forward to having you back on this road of tantrums, troubles, and treasures. (or as my father in law calls it: t-cubed)
One final note: If you know any parents who have small children who "compete for mama," please consider passing this blog along. I certainly hope it helps by letting them know they are not alone.