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MidAge Mom is for women who are parenting in midlife rather than celebrating the empty nest on a beach in Bali . . .

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Delegating to Dad: Why Is It So Hard?

Passing the Baton

So I’m sitting here, agonizing over the stupidest thing. And it isn’t the first time.

I’ve completed 3 middle school applications for my daughter. There’s one more left to do. My husband hasn’t done any applications, though we’ve divided up other tasks involved in this delightful project.

Like many midlife moms, I share parenting with my spouse. He takes them to the orthodontist. I take them to the pediatrician. I manage the family calendar. He helps with homework and has honchoed every research project since we first explored fertility. And so on.

We agreed early on to share the middle school project, and he’s willing to do the fourth application. Yet I’m finding it almost impossible to delegate this task to dad.

Am I just another controlling mom who can’t let go and ask for help?

After years of sharing domestic duties, I’ve decided it’s often more complicated than that.

Take this little conundrum.

Shared parenting works best when you divvy up tasks according to ability. That’s why my husband helps with homework. He’s good at it. Even grade school math can make me want to cry.

However I’m a far better typist than he is. The school applications are online. If he does the fourth one, he may misspell our daughter’s name. And I love him dearly – but he might also ask me her birthdate. That prospect is so annoying that it’s almost not worth delegating the task at all.

You know the advice: let dad do it his way. After 12 years, I now accept that my husband washes the dishes in twice the time it takes me with half the soap.

But with the dishes, nothing is on the line. Here, we’re talking here about a school acceptance or rejection.

This, of course, brings us to the heart of the problem.

Let’s face it – women are amazingly competent. I’m often better at the tasks involved in raising kids than my husband is. And while that competence is a blessing, it also makes it hard to share parenting at times.

So I’m stuck. If I do the fourth application, I may feel resentful. Yet there’s real peace of mind to be had by getting this task done my way, which would be quickly and without mistakes.

Do you have difficulty delegating to dad? What are your issues? How do you resolve them? What do you do when that inner voice says it’s time to pass the baton but you fear dad may not finish the race?

Please comment here and come back to see what I decide to do!

Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com/Bill Grove

Want to learn more? Read Halving It All: How Equally Shared Parenting Works by Francine Deutsch. This helpful work is my most marked up parenting book.

Disclosure: I use some affiliate links. If you click and buy a product, I make a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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4 Responses to “Delegating to Dad: Why Is It So Hard?”

  • Hi Jennifer —

    Thanks for visiting my new blog and commenting. Obviously I can take a lot of inspiration from your blog — which I had read before. The push-pull of job delegation is a constant element in my household as well. What’s different is that we had kids earlier and I was a full-time SAHM who did all the tasks. Now that I’m (happily) overloaded with writing work, it has required some tense negotiating at times to make things “fair.” What is fair, anyway? Not sure it can be defined.

  • JenniferHull:

    Maureen – great to see you here!

    “What is fair?” Good question. Not sure I ever really know. It’s easy for me to underestimate all that my husband does at times.

    Then again, there’s an inner sense I have when too much of the load has shifted to me. In our house, at least, there’s an invisible magnetic force that brings tasks to mom. When it gets to be too much, I try to bat a few back into his court. That’s probably a mixed metaphor but you get the idea. . .

    For us, shared parenting is always a work in progress!

  • Good post! Eh, I say, do the app yourself. Sometimes as modern parents, we feel we HAVE to delegate and share everything if we are to be true to our equal-partner-parenting selves. But as you yourself point out, you and your husband have your separate competencies. My hub is as equal a parent as a mom could hope for. More than equal, in fact. But I don’t let him do the laundry. At best, he’s my sous-laundry-er (if that makes sense!). I send him down to the laundry room to get a load out of the dryer for me when I’m bushed at night. If he put the stuff away, craziness would ensue. He’s just not neat that way. But he does ALL the playing-of-board-games that I have no patience for.

    I just wrote about the joys of juggling on my blog, which I invite you to check out: http://bit.ly/dkbGeX

    Nice blog. As an older mom myself, I’ll be checking back.

  • JenniferHull:

    Denise – your post on sharing parenting was great. I really enjoyed it. And I agree with your point here that often you need to divide parenting tasks according to ability or desire. (My husband also plays the board games. I just can’t get into them.)

    As for this task – I gave this school application to my husband! As a result he is doing it on his schedule not mine, which means it is not yet done. I can’t blame him. He has been up to his eyeballs helping my younger daughter through a prep class for middle school tests.

    The good news is that I’ve been able to let go of the task mentally even though it is still not done. That is, I’ve really been able to delegate it. But this is an easy case as this school is not our top choice. I’m not so good at letting go mentally of the stuff I really care about. It remains too easy sometimes to do more because I’m better at the task at hand or just care more about it.

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