My feed
Premium

Please
or
to access all these features

AIBU?

“Because a man will always be a man” - with parenthood

21 replies

theprincessthepea · 31/12/2023 15:11

After a conversation with a friend about motherhood and taking on a majority of the responsibility as a “woman” - we were reflecting on the role that her husband plays (she does most/all of the work - he “babysits” on occasions even though they are married and live together - but he gets to prioritise his hobbies and work - she doesn’t).

Me and my OH are very independent. He understands that I’m ambitious and we are about to have our first baby together. I work from home, have family support - and we are looking at how we can work together to prioritise our needs aswell as parenting (for context I have a tween and raised her as a single parent but co-parented in the earlier years - when I say needs it’s a mix of finance, work, fulfilment and well-being aka avoiding post natal depression again!).

I told my friend that I am concerned that my OH might not be as “helpful” as I need him to be (I have spoken to OH, he keeps reassuring me that he will always be there and I should just tell him what I need - he has been great throughout the pregnancy so far - but I guess that is insecurities from my side - and he knows about them too - for anyone that thinks we haven’t communicated it with eachother) and my friends response was

“don’t have high expectations. Surround yourself with women because men will always be men”

I know there are more men that are stepping up (it feels like a minority though!).

AIBU for thinking that she is right to a certain extent but as a woman I need to be assertive from the beginning to make sure that I do not end up practically being a “single parent” within a relationship? A part of me is scared that he will change and be a passive parent - I just don’t know what to expect.

For those of you with partners that are active parents - was that something you had to discuss or is it just being lucky and having a man that genuinely takes on the responsibility?

Keen to hear from all genders really.

Im aware some mums can be passive too but mums often “get on with it”.

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

16 votes. Final results.

POLL
You are being unreasonable
38%
You are NOT being unreasonable
63%
MrsTerryPratchett · 31/12/2023 15:17

he will always be there and I should just tell him what I need

That language is really interesting. Won't you both be there? Won't you both learn together what your baby needs? Doesn't sound like it. It already sounds like you both think you'll be in charge of parenting. Doubly because you've done it once.

FWIW except BFing, DH was a great and equal parent. He was the one home educating during covid. I worked away more. He still covers more sick days.

From the start, he needs to learn, not be told by you.

Nevermindtheteacaps · 31/12/2023 15:20

MrsTerryPratchett · 31/12/2023 15:17

he will always be there and I should just tell him what I need

That language is really interesting. Won't you both be there? Won't you both learn together what your baby needs? Doesn't sound like it. It already sounds like you both think you'll be in charge of parenting. Doubly because you've done it once.

FWIW except BFing, DH was a great and equal parent. He was the one home educating during covid. I worked away more. He still covers more sick days.

From the start, he needs to learn, not be told by you.

Agree. That comment speaks volumes, he's already mentally delegated the mental load to you.

Insist on shared parental leave and EQUAL distribution of part time days, pick ups and drops FROM THE START.

Then you have a fighting chance of equality

Nevermindtheteacaps · 31/12/2023 15:22

My partner does close to half and he isn't DC dad. He does this because I made the rules clear from the start and he's a good man. But that's the benefit of a second chance relationship- you know exactly what ground rules to set.

Mimikyuu · 31/12/2023 15:24

My husband is great and does more childcare than I do due to our working hours. However, there is stuff that just isn’t an innate thought process for him, and I’ve found it to be the same with most of my friends husbands too. He doesn’t parent sith much instinct like I do, there are things that he just doesn’t think about. But the kids are alive when I get home, the house work is mostly sorted so I don’t complain. He steps up in areas where I am weak so it balances out.

JadziaD · 31/12/2023 15:25

IME, sad though it is, even the best men seem to need to be supported/helped/encouraged to actually properly step up. It's infuriating, and I agree that the phrase, "just tell me what you need" is worrying. But if you want to take it as the best case, say that what you need is for him to step up and be proactive. I recently discovered sheisapaigeturner on tiktok and she really expresses some of these issues so well. Perhaps get your DH to watch some ahead of time.

Mantling · 31/12/2023 15:26

MrsTerryPratchett · 31/12/2023 15:17

he will always be there and I should just tell him what I need

That language is really interesting. Won't you both be there? Won't you both learn together what your baby needs? Doesn't sound like it. It already sounds like you both think you'll be in charge of parenting. Doubly because you've done it once.

FWIW except BFing, DH was a great and equal parent. He was the one home educating during covid. I worked away more. He still covers more sick days.

From the start, he needs to learn, not be told by you.

This.

Also, I made it very clear to DH before we started ttc that I would be returning to FT work as soon as maternity leave ended, and would not be doing the majority of the parenting, and that I would prefer not to have a child at all if he didn’t actively want to be just as much of a parent as I was, that finding and paying for good, flexible childcare was going to be just as much an issue for him, as were drop-offs and pick-ups, covering sick days, holidays, snow days etc. That agreement was in place before we conceived DS.

He has more than stuck to his side of the bargain.

sliceofapple · 31/12/2023 15:29

The only thing your Dh cannot do is breastfeed, apart from that everything else is learned and shared. Dh was hands on from day 1, we shared night feeds ie I fed, woke Dh, passed Ds1 over he winded him, changed his nappy etc and I slept. We both had lie ins, mine was Sunday, his was Saturday because he was working and I was on maternity leave.

You don't need to tell him what you need, he needs to learn what the baby needs and what you need without you having to verbalise it. Otherwise it adds to the mental load. Dh and I discussed what went into the changing bag when we first packed it, when we came home we immediately restocked it so it was ready to go. Good job as when Ds wasn't even a week old he was hospitalised.

Don't fall into the habit of weekends being "family time" he has to spend one on one time with his child otherwise he will never learn how to go for a poo when you have a crawling baby and you are in sole charge. My youngest child is almost an adult now. Dh and our children are very, very close. They have a beautiful relationship because he put the effort in without me holding his hand through it. Just as you learn the needs of your baby/toddler/child, your Dh will do the same.

theprincessthepea · 31/12/2023 15:30

I agree with you all @Nevermindtheteacaps and @MrsTerryPratchett

His language is probably what has been concerning and I don’t know if it comes from him seeing that I have experience in this or him being clueless or the situation not being real yet … either way it’s very unsettling. I can tell he is following my lead in this so it feels like we need to have a stern conversation backed up with action.

OP posts:
BlingLoving · 31/12/2023 15:30

Mantling · 31/12/2023 15:26

This.

Also, I made it very clear to DH before we started ttc that I would be returning to FT work as soon as maternity leave ended, and would not be doing the majority of the parenting, and that I would prefer not to have a child at all if he didn’t actively want to be just as much of a parent as I was, that finding and paying for good, flexible childcare was going to be just as much an issue for him, as were drop-offs and pick-ups, covering sick days, holidays, snow days etc. That agreement was in place before we conceived DS.

He has more than stuck to his side of the bargain.

I agree with this. I made it clear to DH that I wasn't going to have any children at all if I was going to be lumped with it. It still meant he had to work hard to overcome the natural programming men seem to have from the way we're all brought up that tells men that they can sit back and let someone else take responsibility, but we started in a better place than many others.

ditalini · 31/12/2023 15:35

I think it helps if you don't become the default "expert" on your baby. If you're going to be equal then you may need to give up some control.

Both parents need space to get things wrong without the other jumping in to make it right.

It used to really fuck me off when dh would say "how do I..." or "I don't know how to..." re: some minor babycare task that I'd only muddled through a couple of times. But I also needed to make sure I wasn't hovering and assuming he'd do it "wrong".

I bf so did more or less all the feeds for the first 6 months, after that dh did the majority of wake ups/settling and 50/50 most other things.

But yeah, tell him what you want the outcome to be. He's an adult - he can work out how to get there without step by step instructions. E.g. Outcome: clean clothes, no dye transfer or shrinkage - if he has questions as to the how, then the Internet is a thing.

PeloMom · 31/12/2023 15:37

We didn’t discuss much beforehand as for both of us was our first and I had no idea what I was getting into, however I always made it clear were we to have kids I expect him to be an active parent who knows about every single doctor appointment, school appointment etc and is present to as many as possible.
during postpartum I communicated right away what I needed- didn’t let it fester and build up. He tried to tell me one of the first days that I’d know best what to do (was something about the baby) as I’m woman - I saw red and told him I was born with a vagina not with manual about raising babies; I am born with as much knowledge about it as him so he better pull his socks and learn with me.
he did most of the night wake ups (I’d pump or he’d give formula), as I had CS he did all diapers and lifting the first couple of weeks. I suppose even if you exclusively breastfeed there are so many ways to involve your partner - the earlier the better as it becomes more of a habit and part of life.

theprincessthepea · 31/12/2023 15:53

Thanks. This is all so reassuring.

The good thing about our relationship is that he does a majority of the cooking and cleaning and is actually much more organised with laundry than me!

@sliceofapple @Mantling and @BlingLoving I 100% agree with the fact that I need to let go of control but also he needs to snap out of the idea that I’m the expert - with my first, although my partner at the time was available and wanted to be active I actually took on more responsibility and didn’t let him in - I was also going through PND at the time which we both had zero understanding of and it led to me being more hands.

This time I’m definitely not self-sabotaging in that sense as this needs to be shared responsibility.

@ditalini and @PeloMom I do plan to breastfeed but love the idea of getting him to do the weaning or doing nappy changes to balance out the time we spend.

Our pregnancy was unplanned and we decided to keep it. Wish I had the chance to give an ultimatum haha

OP posts:
spookehtooth · 31/12/2023 16:17

I'm not sold on the inate difference thing, I think everything is a choice when it comes to taking care of a baby and bringing up children.

Maybe if you go far back enough in time, life is hard enough that biological differences lead to some amount of bias, or it was at least easier to justify, but not in the modern world. It's entirely choice now, I think, an individual choice facilitated by the way our society has been set-up. There were no parenting responsibilities I was hesitant or refused to take on 🤷‍♂️ and it was important to me to have the best possible relationship with both of the girls, who are now young women

Goldbar · 31/12/2023 16:17

I'm sorry to be a negative voice but imo very few men "step up" following the arrival of a DC. Quite a few "step down" because their partner is on mat leave and then conveniently forget to step up again when she goes back to work. So if he's not a fully involved partner who shares the load atm, I'm not sure having a baby will change this.

In terms of the way forward given, well, the baby's coming, I'd just be really blunt about what is needed from day 1 and get into the habit of handing him the baby to look after on his own for steadily increasing chunks of time. If you can share parental leave, I think that also goes a long way towards equalising things.

WhateverMate · 31/12/2023 16:20

How long have you been together OP?

theprincessthepea · 31/12/2023 17:56

@WhateverMate known eachother 3 years and together for 2

OP posts:
theprincessthepea · 31/12/2023 18:06

@Goldbar for reference my first pregnancy - who is now a tween, was with another man and we broke up years ago,

My current partner is very hands on with the housework - does the cooking and cleaning. I just don’t know what he will be like as a dad and sense that he will follow my lead. I agree with you - I worry he might “step down” and I’m hoping that by being stern from the beginning we can share the load. It’s interesting to hear from women that have had to spell it out or embedded it from the get go to ensure it’s a habit.

OP posts:
5128gap · 31/12/2023 18:11

Of course she's right. If she wasn't you wouldn't be even having the conversation with her, seeking reassurance from your partner or using language like 'helpful'. When the day arrives when two men are sitting speculating about how much 'help' they think their child's mother will give them with childcare, that's the day your friend can eat her words.

MrsTerryPratchett · 31/12/2023 18:57

5128gap · 31/12/2023 18:11

Of course she's right. If she wasn't you wouldn't be even having the conversation with her, seeking reassurance from your partner or using language like 'helpful'. When the day arrives when two men are sitting speculating about how much 'help' they think their child's mother will give them with childcare, that's the day your friend can eat her words.

True. Ruth Bader Ginsberg was asked how many Supreme Court judges should be female, how many would be enough, and she said that all 9 should be. People were shocked but the SC has been all male for years. All female would redress that.

You need to challenge the language. It's funny because in my house MN is often the source of this. I hug DH, he asks, "oh is some book being a dickhead on MN?" I say that they are and he says, "I;d never do that, I'm great" and I point out that no one is giving out prizes for being a basically good, functional person. It;s all in jest but the words are important. When he tells you his male friends aren't doing the dishes or the nappies or the nights, you sigh and say, "God they are pathetic, yuk" not "thanks you're so great". Men get praised for the basics and women get criticised for the same. 'Notice' this, point it out, be an annoying feminist. It's hard work to set up but the whole rest of your life will be easier.

Starsnspikes · 31/12/2023 20:28

We talked openly about the mental load and women becoming the default parent, and I expressed how determined I was that we didn't fall into that trap. I know it's not something he'd consciously do, but I think it can happen in really subtle ways because of how we're conditioned socially.

As a result, I feel like we have a really equal, lovely balance. DD enjoys time with both of us, we share responsibilities, and we each get a healthy amount of down time. We tend to tag team a lot, like at weekends, so we each give the other one a few hours child free time.

I think it can often start on mat leave because you'll be the one off with the baby, unless you do shared parental leave, and so you naturally start taking on certain tasks as the baby effectively becomes your job. I found we had to actively work to redress the balance when I went back to work (things like me being the one who tended to buy her clothes and toys, or book appointments) but I feel like we've done a pretty good job.

It's good to be aware of and to discuss beforehand. Communication is the key.

Doteycat · 31/12/2023 20:40

He'll always be there?
Tell him what you need?
Sigh.
Really.
Does he want a medal? Him always being there is the LEAST I would expect and I'd laugh at the audacity of him thinking that crumb of a hint of decency was in any way good enough.

And the second bit?
See that way it becomes all your fault because you didn't tell him. How could the poor simple man who's just a man after all, have any idea how to be a grown up if you didn't tell him. So really, he's already told you that it's all your fault when he's useless.
So I'd be back to the drawing board as such.
Dh, tell me exactly, what feeds do you expect to be doing. What do plan to do when I am up all night feeding? What are your plans for dinner and groceries and housework when we have a newborn?
Tell me exactly how you have spent the 9 months that you know this baby is due for, planning how you intend to manage this change we both have coming. ?
I'd ask him to let me know what he has organised for the upheaval he must know is coming.
I would expect him to outline that he has been thinking and planning and organising and he knows what you both will need and has planned accordingly.
What with him about to become a father and all.
And if he can't do all this, I would get up, tell him come back to you when he has this done, and then walk the fuck away.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.