I’m a single working father of four. I’m often given unasked-for parenting advice from female parents who often, frankly, have much less parenting experience in general, and absolutely none with my own kids. This ranges from comments like, “Children often do better in their mom’s lap” as I’m booking airplane seats, to being the only parent on an email chain to get extra tips and help on a class project. I’m not sure that these comments are always meant in a helpful manner, and many of them seem to imply that men don’t really know how to parent their children. Any words of wisdom on this one?
Father of Four
Dear Father of Four,
It is known that children relate to each parent in different ways. The Torah says, “Honor your father and mother” and also says, “A person should fear their mother and father,” putting the mother’s fear before the father’s, since according to our Sages, the fear of the father comes more naturally to a child.
A father generally represents strength and wisdom while the mother represents warmth and spirituality. Every child needs a combination of both.
It is a well-known saying that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Whatever that means is up for debate. But it is highly likely that you (and I as well), being a man, cannot fully understand the relationship that a child has to his/her mother and vice versa. I would say that, most likely, these women are giving you advice from their vantage point as females and mothers. Their comments are likely well founded, if not fully understood by fathers. In general, some people might act like jokers, and some might be sarcastic, but when it comes to the welfare of a child, most people take it very seriously.
Perhaps, do an experiment. Next time you get some unsolicited advice from a would-be do-gooder, run it by your oldest child. See what he/she says. You might find that it helps to complement the extraordinary effort you are putting in to raising your children, by yourself, to the best of your ability.
The wise man learns from everyone. Separate the wheat from the chaff and give your children the benefit of all four parenting traits (strength, wisdom, warmth, and spirituality).