Readjusting To Dad Coming Home

Michelle says her husband has been traveling for the last couple of years, and now he's home every night after changing jobs. How can Michelle help him be more of a dad in everyday activities?

QUESTION: Michelle in Los Angeles says her husband has been traveling for the last couple of years, and now he’s home every night after changing jobs. Her husband is re-adjusting to being home every night. How can Michelle help him be more of a dad in everyday activities? Dr. Meg Meeker says the first thing they have to do is have a talk.

ANSWER: He has re-entry time that he really needs to re-enter and re-acclimate into the family, because your situation isn’t that uncommon. There are a couple of things I would encourage you to do. You need to sit down and talk to him and address the fact that transition is hard for him and it’s hard for you. You’re used to functioning as a single mom all week long, and then Dad’s here and all of a sudden, whoops! Dad’s rules and that kind of thing are here. I would address that as a problem. You both have to make some adjustments in the transition time. Give him some time—maybe half a day—to re-acclimate to being home. Then I would pick a few major activities that he can do with your kids or be with your kids and parent those kids and encourage him to do those. Discuss those, too, but I wouldn’t hammer him, which is I’m sure what you want to do because you’re exhausted because you’ve been a single mom all week. He walks in the door, and I bet if you’re like me, you want to throw these kids at him and say, “Tag! You’re it.” But to say, “Here’s what the kids really need with you. They need time with you, some play time but also chores, so let’s pick out a few things that you can do for the weekend alongside the kids so that you’re engaged and involved with them.” But also back off and let them have some relaxation time, too, because he’s got to regroup to get back on the road again on Monday morning.