The bumbling, clueless dad trope needs to go. Sure, some dads don’t know (or care) about what their kids need but acting like all dads are incompetent when it comes to their own kids — or conversely, praising them for doing the bare minimum when it comes to childcare — is outdated and harmful. This Reddit dad is feeling frustrated and tired of his wife treating him like “an idiot” when it comes to taking care of his twin girls, and it’s so heartbreaking.
In the popular Parenting subreddit, a dad writes, “Wife thinks I’m an idiot. How do I prove to her that I can take care of the kids?”
He then explains the situation a little more. He is 37 and his wife is 35, and they have 5-and-a-half-month-old twin girls. His wife recently joined parenting groups for tips on caring for the little ones. “Through those groups she’s learned a lot, and has taken charge of a lot of parenting decisions,” he adds. “For example, she learned about baby led weaning and decided that we’ll start our kids on solids with that, which I think is great! She’s also taken charge of their sleep training and napping routines and is making wonderful progress. Since I returned to work after a 20 week paternity leave she’s pretty much had to take charge anyway, so I don’t have any complaints about that.”
First — 20 weeks of paternity leave? That’s amazing! So far, nothing seems out of the ordinary. A lot of moms join parenting groups for tips and a community, and it sounds like she naturally was taking more of a lead in her babies’ lives as her husband was back at work. However, she took it to an extreme level of “control,” according to the dad.
“Recently, though, I find her taking things a bit too far with regards to control,” he wrote. “She decided that I can’t be part of the bed time routine because the girls get too excited when they see me and won’t sleep. This is a bit tough since I work all day and don’t get that much time with them. She also largely decided that I can’t be in the room when she’s feeding them for the same reason, which bothers me for the same reason.”
This is so sad! He has to work, but then she won’t let him around for bedtime or feeding because the girls get too excited? He’s their dad — they missed him! She should be celebrating the joy and love in her daughters’ faces when they see their dad (or honestly, using that time to catch a little alone time for herself). Instead, she kicks him out of the room to continue handling everything herself.
The dad’s feelings were understandably hurt, but he finally had to say something when he felt like his daughters were in danger.
“Today was the final straw, though,” he continued. “We’re having a heat wave right now. Her heat tolerance is very high so we rarely use the AC, but today was particularly brutal (30C, 86F before humidity). The girls were crying extra loud so I had a look at the thermostat in their room and it read 28C (85F), which imo is way too hot for comfortable sleeping.” His instincts were right! The Sleep Foundation says babies’ room temperature should be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. So 85 degrees is well over the recommend levels, which could be dangerous for them.
He had a solution: “Our AC unit is right outside their bedroom door, so I opened the door a crack, turned on the AC, and put a fan in the door crack to blow cool air into the room to cool it off,” he wrote. Sounds good, right? But the mom had a problem with this for some reason.
“When she saw me do this she literally shoved me out of the way, blocked my path, turned off the fan and AC and closed the door, then scolded me since I’m ‘disturbing’ them by leaving the door open,” he wrote. “After a few minutes of arguing I told her I’m not willing to compromise on this, that 28 degrees is too hot, and that the AC is going on. I turned everything back on and left. 5 minutes later I came back and she turned everything off again and shut the door….” She’s taking controlling to the max, putting her own ideas above the safety and wellbeing of her girls!
Treating dads like they don’t know what they’re doing with their own kids — and not letting them parent in their way, even if they do things a little differently than we would — is doing everyone a disservice. The dads are affected, the kids are hurt, even moms are worse off because treating dads like they’re incapable perpetuates the idea that moms have to be the ones to do all the things. Let dads make doctors’ appointments or do school pickups. Encourage dads to take charge of a kid’s lunch prep or bedtime routine. There’s nothing wrong with correcting your husband on certain things, but it goes both ways. When he tried telling her about the rooms being too hot, she wouldn’t listen. Being a mom doesn’t automatically make you an expert on everything!
The dad explains that he wants to be more involved, but his wife isn’t letting him. “It’s clear that she thinks I can’t take care of these kids,” he wrote. “It just sucks because over the 20 weeks paternity leave we split everything 50/50 and she’s repeatedly told me I’m a great dad, but that has completely flipped now that I’m back at work. I’m not sure what to do here.”
He then asked other dads for advice, and they delivered. “I agree she is taking things a little too far,” one person wrote. “It’s not fair you can’t spend time with your babies as well after work. I think you need to have a conversation with her saying basically that you think what she’s doing is great, but she needs to find a way to include you in their routines.”
Someone responded to that comment, writing, “A little too far? I would be 1) heartbroken if my partner told me I couldn’t be involved in bed time or feeding my children. And then 2) furious and straight up insist that I be a part of these things. I would just plant myself in the room. No way you’re cutting me out of my kids life like that. This is messed up.”
Others encouraged him to get help from the pediatrician. “Call the pediatrician with your wife,” one person wrote. “That room was way too hot, and fan noise can sometimes help babies stay asleep. Regardless, this issue is the biggest red flag.”
“Babies that young can’t regulate their temperature yet,” someone else said. “They depend on their parents to keep them at a safe temperature, and that is too warm for a sleeping baby, especially if there was no air flow. It sounds like the fan was outside the room, not inside. Warm temps, no air flow, those are SIDS dangers.”
Still other Redditors warned him about the sometimes toxicity of online parenting groups. “I too have learned quite a few useful things from online/social media mom groups,” someone said. “Buuuutttt… Some can be pretty toxic and act as if you don’t do x exactly the way they say you should, you’re ruining your kid for life.And it’s easy to buy into and get all caught up. So maybe discussing that to see if it’s part of the problem?”
“My wife left all of those ‘mommy’ groups because they all propagate the myth that dads are drilling morons who would instantly die if it wasn’t for the intervening hand of moms,” another commented. “28’C is WAY too hot for sleeping, either little kids or grown-ups. OP needs to have a LONG and SERIOUS talk with spouse about this, because if she keeps up this toxicity she is going to either burn herself out or drive him away. Personally speaking, I would not tolerate this.”
Others pointed out that if this behavior is unusual, it could be a sign of postpartum anxiety.
One person wrote, “That room temperature was dangerously high for 5 month olds, but she wouldn’t let you open a door to cool them down? This sounds like postpartum anxiety to me.”
“I second the opinion that this sounds like anxiety. In fact, it sounds like you otherwise have a fair relationship with each other, and this dramatic of a change sounds a bit like post-partum anxiety,” another said. “This can be way worse than generalized anxiety and can turn into a life-altering disorder if not treated (not always, but I’ve seen it turn into psychosis with a friend and battled it myself).”
They continued, “In addition to looking into safe sleep practices and bringing some data to show your decision is sound in terms of this particular instance, it would be good to have a discussion about obsessive thoughts/new controlling tendencies, and that she should talk a professional for a balanced and objective opinion. And I mean a mental health professional, not a pediatrician.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says 1 in 5 pregnant or postpartum women experience depression, anxiety, or scary thoughts. Signs of postpartum anxiety include feeling worried about everyday situations, having racing thoughts, feeling like something bad is going to happen, feeling irritable, have trouble sleeping or concentrating, and more. Treatments include medication and therapy.
Even if this mom doesn’t have postpartum anxiety or depression, she still may benefit from therapy with her husband. It’s challenging navigating parenthood, especially with twins and especially after your partner has gone back to work. Support and loving, honest conversations can help!
Reach out to Postpartum Support International at 800-944-4773 if you or a loved one needs emotional and support resources during and after pregnancy.
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