Let me know if you can relate to this scenario:
After I’ve been home for 10-12 hours with my boys, my husband walks through the door after a long day at work (and a long commute), and I say “Tag, you’re it!” I figure that now that he’s home from work, he can take over with the kids and let me have a break. We are partners in this effort (yes, it’s often effort) of raising two small, rambunctious boys. So we often share kid duty.
But there are several problems with this. First of all, my husband needs just as much of a break as I do. His work day is different, and he can go to the bathroom by himself, but his day is no less stressful than mine.
The other problem with this is that I’m not setting a good parenting example for him. I am the one who has read the parenting books and know everything we should do to prepare our kids for this world. But at the end of a long day, I’m not the best mom I can be. It’s even worse when I don’t ask him to take over. If I just retreat into the computer or a book for a few minutes without telling him that I need a break, it looks like all I do is ignore my children. Not good!
My husband hasn’t read all of the books, and he depends on me to teach him good parenting methods. This is fine, and we both understand our roles in parenting. But when it’s the end of a very long day and I’m not the most patient mom, that’s all he sees. He doesn’t see the schedule I follow, the room time I require, the “yes, mommy” and eye contact I get before giving an instruction, and more.
I’ve seen with my own eyes what happens when my husband follows the bad example that I model. It’s not a conscious thing for either of us, but it happens nonetheless. So just as much as we need to model good character for our children, we need to do so for our spouses as well. Only then can we expect that our spouses will be the great parents that we hope they will be.