Sometime after getting over that initial shock that we were going to bring a baby into this world and before the baby actually arrived, my wife and I took that inevitable trip to “Babies ‘R Us” to see all of those things that we would have to have for this baby to actually survive in our care. You know those things like baby pacifiers that have been designed with an unbelievable amount of technology and precision, baby bottles that are designed to prevent burping and gas, and a toy sanitizer designed to eliminate every known virus, bacteria, or germ that might land on their teething ring. Now this was 12 years ago now, so today everything probably would need to be organic, certified to be made from non-rainforest trees, and able to be found through an app on your iPhone that tracts its location if lost in a restaurant or playground.
As we were perusing the aisles of the store, somewhat shocked and dismayed at the number or choices we would soon have to make, a voice came over the loud speaker and said, “Attention, Babies ‘R Us Customers! Babies ‘R Us is committed to helping you keep your newborn child safe. Did you know that 7 out of every 10 child car seats are not used or installed correctly? We have County Sheriff’s Department officers at the entrance checking your car seat installation or installing them for you. Please take this opportunity to make sure your newborn is protected while you are driving. Thank You.”
My first reaction was, “Really? Seventy percent of people can’t install a car seat correctly?” We looked around the store a bit more, all the while, thinking our home did not cost as much as what we are going to need to be able to take care of this baby. We left there and my wife mentioned that her pregnant body was changing and that she might like to visit a store at the mall nearby, Motherhood Maternity.
We got to the store and there are baby bump related clothes for all stages of a pregnancy. You know, little bump sizes, medium bump sizes, big bump sizes, and camel bump sizes for those expecting twins. My wife is looking for some pants that will grow along with her so we quickly find a couple of pairs. She then mentions that she needs a maternity bra. So, we went to a nearby store that specializes in that type of apparel. As we walk in, on top of one of the displays, is a sign that reads, “Did you know that 7 out of every 10 women are wearing a bra that is not fitted correctly?”
All at once, it started to make sense to me, “I bet all of those same women wearing those bras are installing those child car seats.”
Eventually, we did have to install a child car seat on our own as we got closer to our due date. I yanked and pulled the seat belt and weaved it through and installed it so that there was only the slightest bit of movement in the car seat. My wife would check and say, “I can move it the length of two fingers, so you need to try again.” I would go through the same process again being even more careful to eliminate any potential slack in the belt at all until I reinstalled the child car seat. My wife would check and say, “That is better, but I can still move it. I don’t know if it is safe?” Well, I tried a few more times. I never really improved upon my initial attempts and no matter how precise I was there was still a little bit of movement in the seat. Feeling pretty confident that the installation was as safe as it could be and with hands that were chapped and possibly scraped in spots from pulling on the seat belts so hard, I deemed the installation a success.
Well, my standard for what was going to be safe for our baby was not as high as my wife. So, I hear her say from behind, “You know, I am just not sure if this is going to be safe the way we have it installed. Maybe we should go down to the police department and have one of them install it correctly?”
Feeling a bit disrespected, and knowing that there was no way Deputy Dan was going to be installing this seat for me, I tried again only to be as successful as my last attempt. Now, I would like to say that it is my belief that within what was humanly possible, I installed that seat as securely as it could be installed with the car seat belts in that particular vehicle. With that being said, that was not good enough to satisfy my wife as to the safety of the installation.
What did I do next? What everyone does when faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem? I googled it. After researching for some amount of time, I came across a device guaranteed to solve my problems, a Sunshine Kids Mighty Tite Seat Belt Tightener. For a little over $10 I could solve my inadequacy problems and be looked at respectfully again. It arrived a couple of days later and within seconds I clamped the child car seat down so tight that the car was just about bending around it. There was no movement at all. None. Nada. You couldn’t get a toothpick between the car seat and the seat belt. I have advised many Dads-to-be that it could solve their problems too.
So, what is this long story really about? Men and women often have different standards for what they might think is correct, safe, or even appropriate when it comes to our kids. A majority of the time, fathers can probably be looked at as taking the easiest path, the path that requires the least from them, or the laziest approach. Moms, on the other hand, may take a path that is a bit too protective, too involved, or hyper-controlling. Either approach is not necessarily wrong, but just different standards that each have. Should a mom be concerned with the safety of their child? Absolutely. Is the father actually taking an approach that is not protective or is his standard safe but just not up to his wife’s standard?
When we go through this journey as parents we have to give a bit at every turn. As a father, I have to try to go beyond my own standard many times to reach a standard that I feel my wife will feel is adequate. As a mother, she has to consider that her standard may be above his standard and so she needs to make a decision about whether the safety or well being of the child is really being compromised before taking over. A husband that has been berated for his attentiveness to details, that he doesn’t believe in, will often just give up. He will be more than happy to take the approach that if his wife feels that his contribution is not good enough then she can handle that situation on her own.
So, I want to hear from husbands. This isn’t a vent request, but I am looking for examples of times when you felt disrespected because you didn’t meet the same standard your wife had about something. My wife is looking for examples for a post over on Peacefulwife Blog. It could be how the clothes are folded, feeding the kids, diaper changing etiquette, or garage storage. If there is a good story to go along with it, that is an added bonus. When looking back at the incident were you really right or was your wife really wrong? What did you learn from the experience? Was it just a matter of there being different standards between the two of you? You can comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would not like for it to show up in a post just let us know. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Wives, I also want to hear from you. Once again, I am not looking for a venting session, but are there examples of times when your husband didn’t meet your standard on something and you felt unloved. In retrospect, was it that he was unloving or was it that his standard was different than yours? What did you learn from the experience?