It never fails -- my son drinks the last drop from his sippy cup, and before you can say, "prune juice," he is screaming my name. It doesn't matter whether I am right next to him or in a room down the hall, I am the one that he calls for. The real kicker is that his dad is usually right there, and just as able as I am to fill his sippy cup, but it's almost as if he doesn't exist. It's not dad's fault, he would fill his juice without a problem, it's just the way most kids' brains are wired.
I think that dads start out with a disadvantage from the moment that their children are conceived. Sure, they are their children just as much as the mom's, but it doesn't always seem like that. As moms we get to grow these little tiny miracles within ourselves, and we have a bond from the get-go. Dads have to try and play catch up when the baby comes, but even then it can be hard. Babies and toddlers usually go to mom for everything, and we can normally provide all of the nurturing they need. Even though we can give our kids everything they want, dads play a huge role in growing up as well.
The hardest part for some dads is the struggle between overbearing moms to give up some of the power when it comes to parenting. I know firsthand that we can be control freaks, especially when it comes to our kids. Although it can be hard to give up the power and let dad step in, it's important that we encourage the dads to bond with their children. The earlier, the better, being that they are very impressionable at an early age.
The best thing that we can do as moms, is to step back and give our kids some space with their dads. If it means leaving the house and getting some alone time in the process, then so be it. When we aren't there breathing down their necks, they have more opportunity to be themselves and enjoy the moments on their own terms. I know that when my son goes with his dad without me, they bond more than they would if they weren't alone. The more comfortable they get at being around their own kids, the better the family dynamics will be.
There are some dads that can step up and claim their spot from the start, but others need a little more time. It's hard for some of them to feel a real bond before their children are born, and it is even hard for some to bond before they can communicate with one another. As supportive partners, we need to understand and validate their hesitations, while encouraging them to make steps towards bridging the gap. It does not make them bad dads, it just makes them human. When I was pregnant, I felt like the worst mother in the world because I did not feel a strong connection with my son. I was worried that I wasn't going to be a good mother because of this. The moment he was born, that connection appeared and was stronger than I could've ever imagined. For dads, it is similar to this.
At the end of the day, it's important that our kids are comfortable with any parent(s) they have in their house. A house doesn't really feel like a home of you are placed in awkward situations with other members of your family. I'm certain from my own observance that dads can feel just as awkward. They feel like a third wheel at times, and it can push them further away. For all of you helicopter moms like myself, take a step back and let dad take part in the action. Not only will your kids love it, but you will notice a huge improvement in your family life.