Journal Kids Motherhood Relationships

My Husband And I Are A Team – Please Stop Saying He’s Helping Me!

My Husband And I Are A Team - Please Stop Saying He's Helping Me! www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Sonya Kerr

At a recent kiddie party, while discussing the challenges of raising four littles, a fellow Mom asked: “Do you guys have help?” To which I replied, “No,” as in my mind, “help” is what I would request of someone to assist in something I’d rather someone else do, like clean my house, provide nanny services, etc. 

By definition, “help” is “[making] it easier for (someone) to do something by offering one’s services or resources.” 

Another parent was listening in, and quickly jumped on me stating, “Yes you do, you have your husband!” in a snippy tone, insinuating I lied and should shush up. It felt gross and dismissive. But got me thinking about why it didn’t sit right with me.  To which I would like to respond:

First, having open conversations about the challenges of parenting is necessary and healthy. Silencing me in the middle of a private conversation was inappropriate. Second, my husband is not helping me. He is not providing his “services” to parenting any more than I am as the mother. What he is doing is honoring me, us and our family. He’s committing to all the things it takes to make this family function. He’s being what a father should be – a family man who demonstrates every day that his participation in our family didn’t end at the point of conception. Who acknowledges that each of us have a role in raising little humans, and whose importance in making a meaningful contribution extends beyond the monetary contribution he provides to our brood. Who has a woman in his life who sees his value as a man and father and gives him the confidence to show his strengths in those roles. Who married a woman with her own dreams and aspirations, and by parenting along side me, and sharing this mother-load, makes room for both of us to realize them. Who knows he’s modeling to our sons and daughter what it means to be an active contributor in making the heart of our family beat. Who does not treat me like a second-class citizen in my own home, expecting me to do all the “unpaid” and, what I find, mind-numbing domestic work (laundry, chauffeuring, dishes, etc.) of family management myself. Who understands, wholeheartedly, that parenting is a partnership and best undertaken as a team.

Parenting is not meant to be a solo journey. I know many of you do it (either by choice or by circumstance) and I have the deepest respect and admiration for your strength and resiliency. Some of you get your bliss from domestic duties and managing all the family stuff, happy to be the sole commander of the ship. 

I admire your choice. 

There are times I wish I had more enthusiasm for many of the tasks that amplify when children enter the picture. No judgement, all support over here. Sail on Sister! But this is not about who does what, who has it worse, who is parenting harder and it’s surely not about who does more.  

I don’t think the responsibilities and lists would ever be even anyway. It is about normalizing involved Dads. We need to remove “help” from describing a father’s involvement in family life. Fathers add significant value to the overall well being of the unit. Our children deserve the affections of both parents. We need to hold dads to the same standard of significance as we do mothers. His role should not be implied voluntary, and a mother’s mandatory. Parenting is a partnership in every way, shape and form. It’s a follow through on the planning that two individuals made to bring life to the world. 

Study after study shows the importance of fathers in their child’s upbringing. While our social systems have implemented measures to support this by introducing paternity leave, there still lies the hidden disapproval in many industries and corporations of a man taking extended time to be a father and a contributor in those early days of parenting. Many men feel this underlying condemnation of requesting time off and still bypass this wonderful bonding opportunity out of fear of dismissal upon return. This is shameful. Progress needs to be made here.

And it starts with not making mothers with hands-on partners be made to feel lucky. I am grateful for many things – a role model for my sons who may one day become father’s themselves, a male figure for my daughter who demonstrates what it means to honor a wife and be equally engaged in the rearing aspect of family life. I’m grateful that my spouse lives up to the “honor” and “cherish” sentiments we both stated in our vows and is a true, life partner in every facet of our journey. I’m grateful that our children will benefit and thrive from the love and affections of BOTH of their parents. But I don’t have to roll out the red carpet to the fact he’s parenting, anymore than he should feel gratitude that I stepped up and embraced my mothering role wholeheartedly as well. The choice to become a mother often means putting off career growth, surrendering to the mental and physical roller coaster of pregnancy, unruly hormones and radical body changes, and then being expected to perform at a level of super-human no one other than mothers understand, but many unrightfully judge. Having an involved partner helps relieve the load, yes, but he’s not helping me.  He’s enabling a well-functioning “we.”

And though hands on fathering and home management has not always been the norm, that is not justification for continuing the way things have been. Women are redefining what it means to be a contributor to society, and, for many, it extends beyond her capacity to bear children and maintain a home. As before, but increasingly so, women are trailblazing, finding ways to pursue their passions, while still being phenomenal mothers. Except the unique gender difference is when a woman works, she’s expected to still mother as if she doesn’t, and work as if she isn’t a mother. That level of expectation is unhealthy, unsustainable and burning women out.  Inadequacy in all their roles at its peak. 

So, respectfully, please refrain from saying he’s “helping” me. It implies that I seek out his assistance for something I can’t do myself and that he’s doing me a favor. I can do it all myself. I just don’t agree with that level of expectation. Our household keeps afloat because we’re sharing the load and support one another as partners in parenting – our children benefiting from the love and affections of two parents who appreciate that dynamic in each other. And even with us both participating, parenting is still incredibly challenging.  SOS!

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About the author

Sonya Kerr

Sonya Kerr is a modern, Canadian Mom of 4 kids under 8 years of age, Co-Managing the mayhem of large family-living with her high school sweetie. On temporary leave from her full-time job in Public Service, she’s also a Writer + Content Creator + Blogger at http://houseofkerrs.com/. She’s embracing Hockey Mom-hood, and making time for some inspiration and solitude seeking on the side. Her Mama Mantra: mind your own mothering. Be still and find your Mama wisdom and strength. Your journey is unique.

8 Comments

  • I agree with the sentiments here. A good father should certainly happily invest in care of the kids and dishes and laundry and…

    And, being fair, a good mom would inevitably, and without complaint of course, pitch in with the grass, pool, leaves, snow, painting, garbage, car maintenance, landscaping, vicious critters, etc etc.

    • of course, it’s all included in domestic chores/errands/maintenance. However, when you have children, the work that needs to be done to raise them is constant and relentless as is the maintaining of a functional home. Things like the outside maintenance including cars and lawn are generally things that are only a limited number of hours and can be done on a day or two off a week. It’s important to make it’s shared responsibilities and both parents should know how to do both

  • I get what this article is saying, and I hate that our society in general treats men as bumbling assistants to their wives. But my guess is that this was said by a single mother. I scream this in my head every time I hear a married mother complain about her husband’s failure to meet her expectations. If you’re part of a team, you’re helping each other. I have no team.
    Of course, this is purely speculation. The woman could have been a loud mouthed buttinski.

    • I am NOT a single mother. We have a 16 year old son. I will also state my husband is several years older than me and is the youngest of 12 siblings. We live on a farm.He has always made more $$ and had the attitude “**it is a womens (duty) to take care of house and our child***I have never agreed. He worked out of town and I did it all. All housework, feeding 50 head cattle year round, Taking care of several horses, 5-12 at any given time, working 35 hrs. a week, all outside work…….i did it all even when he was home because he would not. I wanted equality in our relationship. He was raised differantly. —-a BIG generation gap———-When i would even go the store for 30 minutes and leave our young son with him…….people and he himself would say………he was babysitting….I was not paying him….it completely set me off or if he grilled or maybe twice did dishes he was so great to be helping me…..WHAT……WAIT…….did they ever say that about all that was expected from me????? NO NO and NO. For generations men have acted like a bunch of bumbling assistants………and why not???? go to work, drink beer, relax, eat dinner, a little tv and off to bed….NO responsibility except work……..not just society treating them that way(the shoe has fit well). They liked it and still do…..I think all married mothers expect a team player, to be equal and has certain expectations. So with all respect Miss Amanda before you belittle any women for expecting a man to participate in life together, that does not act like he walked out of the 70s and has NO family responsibility just financial and it basically takes two incomes in the world we all live in today, try to think outside your experience, consider supporting women, not being a disgrace to our gender I would assume from your comments you could be a loud mouthed buttinski.

      • Wow. Just, wow. If you’re that angry about your circumstances, talk to your husband, not me. You know nothing about me, and seem intent on picking a fight.
        You dont deserve an explanation, but i will tell you that my 10 years of marriage was the best 7 years of my life, and 3 of the worst.
        Drugs and mental illness turn people abusive. Eventually, they sometimes commit suicide, and leave someone else to raise children alone.
        And sometimes the person who’s been hurt chooses to forgive, and not to spew poison on strangers online.

  • This STRONGLY resonated with me. I posted it to my own page. My husband is out of town a lot and I’m working and handling everything with the children and house and our lives while he’s gone so YES, I do expect him to completely take over that the times he is home. Why shouldn’t he? He isn’t doing me a favor by doing so anymore than I am doing him a favor by doing it when he’s gone

  • Maybe you’re over analyzing the word “help”. I don’t have kids, but I don’t get this. This is a pretty long article explaining all about how that word is wrong. Maybe the lady who said it was a bitch, but if I was raising children with my husband, I could even see myself saying, “we help each other”. Is that so bad?