My partner and I couldn't be more different when it comes to our parenting styles. While I'm more of the authoritarian, rule-maker, and overall implementer of things, he's closer to the passive end, offering endless high-fives, avoiding confrontation, and generally nodding along to whatever our children request. I wish I could be slightly more permissive, but I've also hoped he'd morph into my mindset. Over the years, there have been a lot of ways I encouraged my passive parenting partner to get involved. Some have been successful while others, well, not so much.
When my partner and I first set out on this parenting journey together, our differences were pretty obvious. We didn't realize how much they'd affect the way we'd parent, though. I'm the oldest to one younger brother, and I've always been the one "in charge." Responsibility came with the territory because our single mom worked and put herself through school, so I guess all that spilled over into my adult life. My partner was an only child with less on his shoulders and a more laid back lifestyle; something I can't relate to. Just like my childhood impacted my parenting, his experiences have crafted how he handles different life situations. Like fatherhood, for example.
With two children and years of trying to find a middle ground between our techniques, I'm grateful for what my partner's passive attitude has taught me. Still, I hope some of the following "suggestions" have encouraged him to be more involved in the day-to-day decisions in our household. In the end, it only serves to benefit our children and our relationship.
I Let Him Choose Our Activities
I'm usually the one who also chooses our activities as a couple, and a family, because it comes with the role I've filled, I guess. In our 13 years together, it's just this assumed fact that I'll be the one to coordinate events because, well, my partner in all his passivity has become a tad lazy. When I need to encourage him to step up, I step back and put him in the position to decide where we're going for dinner or what the kids can do when they say, "I'm bored" for the 50th time that day.
I Spent A Night Away
Having family over an hour away has its benefits. When I'm feeling overwhelmed with being the decision-maker, or if I want a break in general, I go stay with my mom. This means the kids are with their dad and he has no choice but to either be as passive as usual (which won't end well), or tap into my way of doing things and get in the game. Whether this means having to play "castle guys" with our 5 year old, or attempt to comb through the tangles in our 10 year old's hair, it's go time when I'm not there to save the day.
I Had A Direct Conversation With Him
I know it seems strange, but there are times when sitting my partner down for a solid talk about where we stand, and where I'd like things to be, is the only way to come together and remain on the same page. He never realizes his passiveness until it's been pointed out to him. When I explain what I see in clear sentences, essentially highlighting how I'd like him to be more involved, there's little room for miscommunication.
I Gave Him A To-Do List
I don't love being the one who's in charge of everything all the time, but someone has to. My partner's responsible for some things, though, and I get the bigger chunks of shared responsibilities because I'm with the kids more frequently. I'm also a compulsive note-taker and can't survive without a list of things that need done each day. This translates to me, at times, making one for him, too, with tasks like "choose what to cook for dinner," and "drop Child A off at her friend's house."
By giving him a written out set of tasks, he becomes more involved without me having to be the one to figure it all out for him.
I Left Things Unfinished
Sometimes being the dominant figure in the house means finding ways to be sneaky with how I'd like things to play out. If my partner is nonchalant about the kids playing outside alone while I work (and he has nothing to do but scroll endlessly through his social feeds), I might "accidentally" forget the car needs washed and ask if he'll take them along. Or, when my daughter needs help with her homework, I'll stop halfway through so my partner can step in to be an active participant, too. It's only fair.
I Directed Our Children To Him
Even if I have nothing else to do (but am utterly drained), I've had conversations with the kids about who to ask for whatever it is they need or want, and that person is always their dad. This tactic doesn't always work, though. They're so used to coming to me they, often bypass him, when he's standing right there to ask me. It takes constant reminding, but the times it works are amazing.
I Made A Conscious Effort To Be Just As Passive
Both of us can't be passive, right? I mean, it just won't work. More so, it baffles our kids (which is fun in its own right). If I choose to be as passive and carefree about certain decisions (important or otherwise), my partner will step into my role to balance things out. While this took a little practice as well, he actually does a great job being more involved. If only it would happen on his own accord more often, maybe I wouldn't need any of these other tactics to level out my insanity. Just sayin'.