When that first child comes along, mothers learn that having a helpful father around usually makes her a better mother and that he also needs her support to be a good father.  How is mothering is connected to good fathering?

There are a variety of ways that mothers and fathers can collaborate in raising healthy children.  First, fathering cannot be defined in isolation from mothering or the expectations of mothers.  Fathers feel more competent and capable when mothers believe that men can be as good at parenting as women can.  In other words, women’s ideas about men’s skills affect the way that men think about themselves as fathers.  For women, the take-away message is to tell men what they do well, tell them that you want them to be involved, and patiently allow them to improve their skills as fathers.

In addition to women’s views of men, a variety of statistics show men are less likely to be involved or financially supportive if the relationship with a child’s mother is poor.  Maintaining a good relationship with the mother is one valuable way that fathers build relationships with their children. 

Mothers and fathers can work together for their children by following some of these practical suggestions:

  • Maintain a positive emotional atmosphere at home.  Be affectionate, supportive, and kind to each other.
  • Let children know and see that you appreciate each other’s efforts as parents.  A note or a “thank you” helps to demonstrate this.
  • Offer instruction to each other when needed, and be willing to accept help when it is offered.  Parenting involves teamwork, which means both sharing information and accepting it.
  • Make parenting decisions together.  Avoid criticizing a partner or undermining each other’s authority in front of children.
  • Share personal feelings with each other.  Remind each other that you are working together to strengthen family ties.

It helps parents to realize that good mothering and good fathering are connected.  When it comes to supporting mothers, father can also use some ideas:

  • Relieve Mom’s load.  Give her a chance to take time on her own to recharge her batteries.
  • Do a few household chores without being asked. 
  • Support her mothering choices.  Whether she chooses to stay at home or work outside the home, be supportive.
  • Provide for your family’s financial needs.  Financial support is an important part of fathering and helps to provide security.
  • Treat your children’s mother with love and respect.  It has been said that the greatest thing a man can do for his children is to love and respect their mother.

Good mothering, at its heart, acknowledges the important influence of fathers and provides a steady, consistent foundation for fathers to truly count on in the lives of their children.

Please read the companion piece to this article, The ABC’s of Successful Fathering