I'm looking for ideas in how to encourage my girls dad in parenting.
He left because he didn't want a family life and wanted to be able to devote himself to his life's work. I have full custody, but he still visits with the girls (ages 5 and 1).
My 5 year old adores him and misses spending more time with him.
He prioritizes work before making time with the children, although we are trying to set at least two evenings a week to have dinner together.
He is generous (materially) and very brilliant, but socially challenged. He has a hard time with feelings and understanding what another person is experiencing. I would like to find a way to help him understand how important his interactions are with his daughters.
For instance, when he calls or comes over, he will always talk with me first about work (we share a business together still) before he turns his attention to the girls.
He almost always will say something about how he isn't able to stay to play or isn't able to see them more during the week because he has to work. The message they are getting is that work is first (which it actually is for him).
He also pays almost no attention to the youngest. She just turned one, so she is still very focused on mommy. He moved out when she was 4 month old, so she has very little relationship with him. I don't know what that is going to be like over time as she gets older.
Most of the time he is happy-go-lucky with them, but he can be very old-school disciplinarian too. We went out to eat (his most favorite thing to do when we are going to spend time with him), and DD1 wanted to eat at a certain table, but he wanted a different one. She wasn't even loud or upset, but simply occupying the other table. He said, that is it, we aren't going to stay if you are going to make a scene like this. He expects her to just snap to it, when he tells her to do something. That isn't her personality at all!
He will also threaten their time together as a disciplinary tool (ie "I'm going to leave if you keep acting like that"). I have spoken to him about how harmful that could be, and he is trying to not say this sort of thing anymore. But it is another example of the type of parenting mindset he has.
As their mother, I worry so much about the emotional impact this is all going to have on them. Maybe no matter what the dad is like we worry about these sorts of things when the parents aren't together. I don't know.
I wish that there was a gentle way to encourage him to really think through what he says and does. Sadly, parenting just isn't an interest of his so he isn't likely to read any books. Maybe some videos or short articles? I think that fathers have such an impact on daughters emotional lives. I want to find a way to help improve things. But I also have to be careful that I don't come across as the one with all the answers. I am doing my best to encourage and empower him for the sake of the girls.