Mothers' Day 2013: Appreciation- An Action Plan for Fathers by Robert Naseef, Ph.D.

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Setting aside a day to honor mothers has ancient roots, but true gratitude requires expression beyond flowers, cards, and going out to eat. A mother’s love is boundless, and this is a time to reflect on the sweetest memories of our mothers and grandmothers. Beyond honoring the woman who raised him, the most important thing a father can do for his children is to love and appreciate their mother. So here is a plan for fathers of children with autism and special needs to honor the devoted mothers of their children.    

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Being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of motherhood is normal, but it can be even more intense when a child has special needs. I spend a good deal of my time as a psychologist listening to mothers.  Mothers often seem relieved by giving voice to their struggles—particularly the guilt about not doing enough or missing something they should have done or thought about. This maternal protectiveness is driven and powered by a profound sense of responsibility and guilt.  I have come to learn from listening to mothers that this is a part of the unwritten job description of motherhood.

Here’s the plan. Tell your partner how much you appreciate her and everything she does for your children. Be specific about all the wonderful things she does and how hard she tries. Ask what you can do to make her job easier. Gently keep asking and showing up to do stuff. This is how to be a good man in your situation. Help her to take a breath, literally and figuratively. Most likely this may help her feel better—it may even help her appreciate herself and you in the process.