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Help Your Man Lean In To Fatherhood: Studio 5

 

Therapist Julie Hanks offers advice on how to help your man more involved in parenting. It’s a strategy that could make your whole family happier.


Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” encourages women to step up, take risks, and lead in at work, at school, and in their communities. However, for women with children to seize leadership opportunities requires men to lean in more at home. Whether you’re a mother who is working part-time or full-time outside of the home, or you are a stay-at-home mom, there are things we can do encourage our husband’s to lean in to fatherhood. Not only is an involved father necessary for you to embrace leadership opportunities in the community, research consistently shows that your children will benefit from their father’s involvement in their lives. Here are a few of the ways children benefit from having an involved father:

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How To Parent More Like A Man: Studio 5

When it comes to parenting, moms and dads do it differently. But is one approach better than the other? 

 

How to parent more like a man: Parenting lessons from dads

1) Be flexible and fun

Men tend to approach physical care of their children with a more relaxed attitude often leading to a more fun and playful parenting experience. Fathers don’t get as upset if the kids are in bed an hour after “bed time” or if they skip nightly bath time every once in a while.
Women can learn to loosen up on rules in the name of fun.

2) Expect child to listen the first time

When Dad’s ask for their child to do something, they expect more immediate compliance and lose their patience quickly. Moms often wear themselves out trying to be a “nice” parent.
Moms can learn learn to hold their ground and not ask a child to do something 20 times before there are consequences.

3) Keep it simple

When planning events like family outings, birthday parties, or even packing lunch, mom’s tend to set high expectations and get overwhelmed by the details. Dads are generally better at seeing the “big picture” and focusing on the necessities.
Women can learn to minimize stress by focusing on the basics instead of being overwhelmed by details.

4) Move on after making mistakes

Dads seem to be better at moving on and not feeling guilty for imperfections like missing the deadline for a sporting event sign up or forgetting to take their child to a birthday party. Men also tend to care less what other parents are thinking about them.
Women can learn to skip self-loathing and guilt trips and quickly move on after making parenting mistakes.

5) See your child as separate

If a child throws a tantrum in a restaurant, forgets to do their homework, or misbehaves at school dad’s generally don’t blame themselves, feel a failure, or ruminate about it for days.
Women can learn from men not to take their child’s behavior too personally.

6) Don’t give in to whining

Dads are generally better at holding their ground when they say “no” to their child’s request to buy a toy at the store, or go play with a friend before doing homework, for example.
Women can learn from men to stand their ground and not change their mind just because a child is upset.

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Ask A Therapist: Low Self-Esteem, Technology Addict, and Fear of Relationships

Q: I feel like nothing I do matters and nobody really understands who I am. Every time I reach out to someone they let me down. I guess they just don’t care. The last few years I’ve taken to locking myself away in my bedroom to read or watch movies; it gives me more enjoyment than people do but I’m always feeling guilty about it too. I’m 19 years old and I’ve only kissed 4 guys ever, and never anything more. I’m afraid and self-conscious and I feel like I don’t get the opportunity to meet boys that other girls do. I know its my fault but its so hard to change, and I don’t know if I really want to be in a relationship anyway; I don’t think I’d be good at it at all. I’m always fighting with my parents, especially my dad; he yells at me a lot. I used to be so afraid of him when I was younger; he has quite the temper and is always criticizing me. My mother constantly nags me to go out more, to find a job, to stop watching so much TV, to eat better, to do more chores, to act older, the list goes on. I often get excited about little things and become quite childish and energetic, but the smallest thing can also send me into a spiral of sadness, anger or  frustration for the rest of the day. Both reactions seem to annoy my family. My few friends probably find it annoying too; if I could stand being thought ill of I’d probably ask  them. I always think if I were prettier or smarter or talented at anything, life would be better. I don’t want to be different or behind; I just wish things were easier. What should I do?

A: Thanks so much for writing in for help. The fact that you are reaching out for advice in this forum means you have some hope that things could be different for you, that you can feel differently about yourself and your life.

What you’re describing sounds like depression: social isolation, insecurities, withdrawing from activities, negative thoughts, hopelessness. First, I want you to go to your physician and have a physical to rule out any physical illness. While you’re there please talk to your doctor about your hopelessness, isolation and fears. See if medication is an option for you. Your tendency to turn toward technology may be a way to numb your emotional pain.

Also, ask your doctor for a referral to a psychotherapist in your area to work on ways to improve your mood, gain self-confidence, and gain relationship skills. You may also want to consider asking your parents to attend family therapy  to improve your family relationships.  Even though you’re 19, it sounds as if  you’re still stuck in experiencing the “childhood” disapproval of your father, and criticism of your mother, and letting those emotions dictate, on some level, how you feel about yourself. The good news is, you can feel differently.

Your family relationships greatly impact how you feel about other relationships.  If you think about your relationship with your dad as the “template” for male relationships, and you experienced him as scary and critical, then it makes sense that you would be hesitant to open up to other male relationships, like friendships and dating relationships.  It makes sense that you’d have only a few female friends, too, because you’ve experienced your mother as nagging and constantly correcting you. She is your model of how to relate to women so you likely may fear disapproval in your female friendships as well. Your therapist can help free you from these patterns so you can experience relationships with others differently, and not as extensions of your parental relationships.

In addition to meeting with your physician and therapist, I’d like to recommend a couple of books to you: “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” by Dr. David Burns and “The Relationship Cure” by Dr. John Gottman. Both books will provide excellent tools and new perspectives on yourself and your relationships.

Thanks again for writing in. Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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