I say things I don't always mean. Then, of course, sometimes I do things that reinforce those things I don't mean. It's a vicious cycle made most evident in my romantic relationship. For example, there are ways I didn't realize I was making my partner feel insecure in his parenting and, well, now I feel just awful about it. Let me be clear, he's an amazing father. In writing that, I realize I don't say that nearly enough and perhaps I spend too much time focusing on the negatives instead.
When we became parents, neither my partner nor I had any idea how good of a job we'd actually do. While he had a pretty stable upbringing, my childhood left me conflicted as to whether I could be the kind of parent I needed, but ultimately didn't have, growing up. Coming from these two separate schools of thought, we've had a lot of conflict through the years as we tried to find common ground. Still, when I look back and see how I might've been overly critical at times, it's obvious my partner was doing a great job.
Because my partner is so passive, and a master at avoiding conflict completely, he'd never tell me if I've made him feel insecure. It's only through reflection that I've come to realize I could've handled things differently. With that, here's some ways I might've made my sweetheart feel insecure with his parenting, even though he didn't deserve one bit of it.
By Commenting On The Negatives
In retrospect, I hear an audio loop of my voice critiquing all the things my partner's done wrong (or not my way). I can see how, through the years, that would make him feel too insecure to do anything. I'd feel the same way if the roles were reversed.
Because some comments aren't obviously negative, but maybe a slight jab meant to be a joke, I didn't realize the damage I was doing. If I could take these things back, I would.
By Swooping In Too Soon
I'm the one home with the kids all the time, so it never occurred to me that I was frequently interrupting something with my partner and the kids, just because I wanted to divert plans toward the way I'd prefer. I'm used to being the caregiver and ultimate fixer of things, but when it comes to letting my partner do his thing, I need to leave it be.
By Comparing Him To Other Fathers
In no way would I ever make a comparison of my partner to another with the intent to hurt his feelings or make him feel insecure. If anything, I'm usually trying to point something out I'd like to implement or avoid. However, in looking through my partner's eyes, I see how any comparison might be a knock on his parenting style and maybe I should back off.
By Pretending To Know What He's Thinking
Mind reading is one of my best attributes, except I'm awful at it. When I assume I know what his plans are with the kids — whether it's about school, bedtimes, or playdates — I'm usually wrong. Sometimes, it ends in an argument or him avoiding me so we don't keep the discussion going. Honestly, I don't blame him.
By Not Letting Him Take Charge
If I'm not quick to swoop in, it's because I've taken over completely. Yes, I have issues letting go of control, but when I strip away his power I see how it changes the way he parents (and even how he reacts to me). I don't know when I became the one who decides everything all the time, but it's definitely changed our relationship and how involved he is with our kids at certain times. If he were quick to cut me off as much as I do with him, I'd no doubt feel insecure in my decisions with the kids, too.
By Letting Him Think We Can Do It Without Him
I'm a strong, independent woman, and that sometimes translates to me doing all the work. In turn, it may seem like I don't need my partner for anything. That's so completely off the mark, and yet, it's often what I've made my partner feel because I'm not good at sharing parental responsibilities. You know, until it's too late.
By Not Telling Him He's The Greatest
Of all the things I've done that have inadvertently made my partner feel insecure as a parent, it's that I don't tell him often enough that he's doing a great job. He tells me, sure, but as a man who complains so little, puts in the time with his children, and works his fingers to the bone to provide for them, he deserves so much more than what I've given him. He's the greatest, and he should know it.