Shawn’s Note: In this post, I have used the words “husband” and “wife” to simplify gender identification. You can easily insert the word “partner” to suit your particular tastes.
There are many differences between being a husband and being a father. But, is a man’s behaviour as a husband an indication of what he will be like as a father? Let’s discuss.
To frame the conversation, here are a couple of examples:
Stew is not the most attentive man in the world. He never cleans up after himself, pees on the floor of the bathroom and doesn’t bother cleaning it up, stays out late with the boys at strip clubs and doesn’t bother calling to tell his wife where he is. Stew spends every Sunday afternoon in the Fall and Winter on his ass, watching football, and expects his loving wife to dote on his every desire. He is unemployed, and makes no attempt to find gainful employment.
Once a week, Charlie stops at the florist and picks up a bouquet of flowers for his wife. He is constantly surprising her with concert tickets to see the artists she likes and whisking her away on fancy weekend getaways. He does his fair share of the household chores, cooks dinner more often than not, and does not expect his wife to pick up after him, ever. He is level-headed, admits when he is wrong and isn’t afraid to apologize.
So, we have Stew and we have Charlie. Whom do we assume would be the better dad?
Admittedly, the question is a facetious one. Stew not only sounds like a horrible husband, but also a horrible human being.
That said, can we automatically assume that Charlie will be the better Dad?
Here’s what I know. Becoming a husband was a fairly predictable experience. I knew, within reason, what I could expect once I married my wife and she knew the same of me. Sure, there were some bumps. But relatively speaking, it all unfolded as anticipated.
But becoming a parent? To quote the Emerald City Guard from the Wizard of Oz, that’s a horse of a different colour.
No one can anticipate what sleepless nights, colic and projectile vomiting will do to Charlie’s sweet disposition. He may be the kind of guy that needs 8 hours of solid sack time in order to function properly. Without that beauty rest, well, he might flare up like Scooby-Doo when Shaggy runs out of Scooby Snacks.
As for Stew, he might be the guy who’s innate paternal instincts kick in the minute his little baby grabs hold of his finger for the first time. He might jump at the chance to play with his child and become a brand new man. Stranger things have happened.
(That said, my money’s on Charlie. Because Stew’s an a-hole.)
Moms, you’re not immune to this phenomenon either. How many ladies will admit to being career-focused professionals one minute, and stay-at-home moms the next?
To all the parents out there (Moms and Dads), let me know if you’ve experienced an about-face as a result of parenthood. I’m really curious to see how many of you got more than you bargained for, or were pleasantly surprised by an unexpected turnaround.