I admit it. I'm anxious. I'm a bit of a hypochondriac ( for which I blame my mother) and I get heart palpitations at the thought of letting my kids take public transportation without adult supervision.
In fact, my 11-year-old recently had two of her friends over for a play date, and when they asked if they could walk around the block, my first instinct was to say, "NO!" But then I thought better of it and let down my mother bear, 'someone is going to drive up in a van and kidnap you and I'll never see you again' thoughts and acquiesced to her request. I figured it was harmless, we live in a decent tree-lined neighborhood and it was time I allowed my 11-year-old to flex her independence. Of course when I quickly asked my husband his thoughts on the matter he said, "Let them go .. they'll be fine." (Did I mention that the word FINE is his favorite adjective?).
So, against my mama bear instincts and in my quest to parent more like a man -- a.k.a., be less anxious and more lassiez-faire with my kids -- I let them go. Ten minutes later one of my daughter's friend's parents showed up,
She asked, "Where are the girls?"
I said. Oh "they just took a walk around the block. They should be back in ten minutes."
We waited five minutes, which seemed like an ETERNITY to me, as every bad thought a parent might have in regards to their kid's safety, coupled with being responsible for two other kids, raced through my mind. I started sweating and running up and down the block like a bit of a crazed person. And then, after what seemed like an interminable period, I saw three tween girls casually strolling up the block. I ran to them in what felt like in slow motion, and when I reached my daughter, I started to cry.
Of course my daughter was completely embarrassed by my behavior and, as I was hugging and squeezing the breath out of her said, "Mommy, why were you so worried? We just took a walk around the block." And she was right. It was just a walk around the block and no one , least of all my husband, seemed to be concerned or running up and down the street in a maniacally panicked state, searching for my daughter. And it was at that very moment, seeing the look of embarrassment and sadness in my daughter's eyes that I realized it was time to think about parenting my kids in more of a manly/fatherly way. In other words, it was time to break out the Daditude.
Daditude is a style of parenting I've coined (your welcome) which reflects the more easy-going attitude and reactions dads exhibit in regards to their kids and their parenting styles. And if you're a mom who needs a little help in this area *raises hand* here are three ways you can incorporate a bit of Daditude into your daily parenting style. Oh and one word of caution: When taking on this Daditude, I GUARANTEE you and your husband will fight less and love more. Why? Because you'll FINALLY be on the same page.
#1 Practice the fine art of being okay with GOOD ENOUGH.
So the kitchen table has crumbs, as does the kitchen floor. Your daughter promised you she'd clean up her room, and although she's put all her clothes away, she stuffed them in various drawers as opposed to folding them neatly. You're all sitting down for dinner when you realize you forgot to cook the broccoli. Instead of getting all up in arms, practice a little Daditude: Look around at your life and say, it's not perfect, but it's good enough and not worth expending stress or energy on.
#2 Allow yourself to get physical with your kids.
No, I'm not suggesting you go lift weights with your kids. By physical I mean tickle them, wrestle or have a good old-fashioned pillow fight. In other words, in much the same physical ways so many dads express affection for their kids, act in kind. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and really every kid deserves the right to smack their mom with a pillow over the head at least once in their lifetime.
#3 For just a few hours, answer all your kids questions and requests the way you know your husband would.
For instance, when your kid asks if he can have cereal for dinner, say yes. Who knows? Cereal for breakfast might be the best way to get your skinny kid to finally eat his dinner -- and you'll stress less, too. Remember... it's all in the Daditude.
Melissa Chapman blogs about her marriage and everything in between at www.marriedmysugardaddy.com.
She is currently a writer for Lifetime Moms and her work has appeared in The Staten Island Advance, Care.com, ABC News,BlogHer, Baby Center, Momtourage, Babble, The Washington Post, Time, Out NY Kids iVillage and The Staten Island Family.