Dads Are Parents Too How to Help Him Adjust While He's Between Jobs

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Steve Truitt, Life Coach & Founder, Parent Parachute

By Steve Truitt

Brad got up early Thursday morning to make sure his wife could sleep in while he got the kids ready for school.  He made coffee, cut fresh fruit and waffles, filled sippy-cups with milk and turned on the TV to the Today Show.  Brad wanted his wife to get a few extra minutes of sleep before she went to work.  Recently laid off from his job, he has had to learn a whole new set of skills he was never prepared to tackle including house husband and stay home dad.  Does this sound like your typical man?  Maybe not.  But guys like Brad are out there.
As the morning progressed, Brad pulled out the peanut butter, strawberry jam and bread to make sandwiches for the kids’ lunches, added string cheese, grapes and sealed cups of water along with a little ice pack to keep it cold.  He tiptoed through the kitchen, careful not to make a sound. 
When Brad’s wife awoke, she surveyed the morning activities: “Hon, this cold pack in the lunch box will thaw before she’s ready to eat…Did you take the garbage out?...What happened with that job interview you were supposed to have today?...Do the dogs have enough water?”

Score one for Brad’s wife; the hard-working mother of two who can bring home the bacon and maintain an often disorderly home.   She’s amazing.  But actually so is he.  He is working his system, and what you will never hear from Brad is his disappointment.  He may not hear a “Thank you” or appreciation, but that’s a situation most women understand all too well.

Men like Brad might be rare, but they do exist.  If you’re living with a “Brad,” here are five take-away tips to help you help him through this tough time:

  1. Don’t discourage his participation.  So he mixes oatmeal with pretzels for breakfast or puts your daughter in the Jimi Hendrix shirt his buddy got her.  He’s doing it his way.
  2. Don’t judge him, show him!  It’s easy to sit back and point out all the things he’s not doing “right,” but where does that get either of you? Trading places requires a little training between the two of you, so… “Teach a man to fish…”
  3. Point out the positives first -- Let him know you appreciate him for trying so hard.  He’s not going to ask for your praise or acknowledgement, but he sure does need it.  He’s traversing uncharted territory here, and it may not be his first choice of jobs.  A little pat on the back goes a long way!
  4. Don’t tell him about your friend’s success.  Sure your hubby is your best friend and you tell him everything, but telling him about Donna’s attractive husband and his big promotion or new Ferrari or their amazing house is only going to remind him of his own feelings of inadequacy.
  5. If you think you might hold some deep unconscious resentment… you do.  And that’s perfectly normal and natural.  But you need to find a healthy way to identify and process those feelings, because the longer he’s out of a job, the more those feelings may manifest in attitudes and behaviors that can only serve to hurt you both.

For all of you hard-working moms who are still expected to do it all without much help and could use a little acknowledgement, you know how it feels.  It goes both ways. Not every husband who has lost his job has stepped up like Brad. For those women who are living with such a man, a little appreciation goes a very long way in a relationship.

Steve Truitt is a life coach and the founder of Parent Parachute. His radio show is "The Bottom Line," which can be heard every Wednesday on Healthy Life Radio. He is the author of Stop Waiting For PermissionHis website is

Check out Steve's latest interview at Ladies' Home Journal's "Ladies Lounge" blog.

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