What Can I Do to Get My Partner Involved in Parenting

It’s no secret that you’re not alone in this predicament. Over the past few years, there has been a surge of articles addressing the immense responsibilities that caregiving moms handle. If you’re pondering the question, “What Can I Do to Get My Partner Involved in Parenting?” even the most progressive co-parenting duos and, occasionally, same-sex couples who defy traditional gender roles can find themselves grappling with a sense of imbalance after having children. As the demands on women’s time outside the home have increased, so too has the time we devote to nurturing our little ones. Regrettably, the same cannot be said for many fathers, whose involvement in child-rearing has not experienced comparable growth.

I’m guessing that showing your partner a bunch of stories about this social trend hasn’t worked or that you know it won’t work. When you are at home with your family, it doesn’t matter what is happening in other people’s homes. You have a problem and need a way to solve it that doesn’t involve waiting for a huge shift in how people think and how things are built. Every family is different, but here are some ideas that might be helpful.

Keep Talking

I don’t know how you’ve approached the conversations you’ve already had with your partner, but there’s no way around the need to keep talking. You say that either nothing changes after you talk to him or the changes are only temporary. This makes it sound like he has hurdles to changing his behavior that you and he haven’t found yet. The first step is to keep talking and looking deeper into what keeps getting in the way of real change. Getting caught up in making your point in a talk is easy, but it’s also important to listen to your partner. People act based on their thoughts and beliefs, and knowing where your partner is coming from can help you find a good answer.

One thing to keep in mind is that the main caregiver may make the partner feel like they are being judged or second-guessed. This is called “maternal gate-keeping” in the study, and it is a known reason why the father (usually, but not always!) doesn’t take on more caregiving tasks.

It’s best to talk about things like this when you’re not “in the heat of the moment,” when your feelings are high and you might get into a fight. Instead, find a calm time to have a polite conversation. Remember that how we say something can greatly affect how it is heard or accepted, so think ahead of time about ways to sound respectful and caring.

Another barrier could be his fears and insecurities that he hasn’t discussed because he’s embarrassed. For example, if his father didn’t show him how to parent in a more modern, hands-on way, he may feel unprepared for their new role in a way they don’t know how to deal with. If either of these is true, you need to talk to a lot of people to figure out how to move forward and stop getting stuck in the same stressful loop.

Delegate Tasks

In the area of family therapy, a family system has been compared to a machine that works in a way that everyone is used to, whether it’s healthy or not. To change a bad way of doing things, one person needs to start the change process, which then gets the rest of the machine to run differently.

Think about where you could make the first change. You must first convince your partner that a change is needed to do this. This means talking to him so he knows what to expect and maybe helping him figure out how to do the jobs. And when your partner makes a change, always acknowledge, respect, and praise it (especially if he thinks he was criticized in the past). Change is hard, and showing thanks can make it more likely that he will keep up the good behavior and pave the way for more changes in the future.

The truth is that you might need to do less to get him to do more. For many high-functioning moms, this also means getting rid of their own worries about not doing as much with their kids. If this is the case, choose a caring task that is easy for you to give up. You should find this helpful in making the transition. Also, it’s important to remember that delegating tasks is another job that falls on your shoulders. The key is for you to step back totally while keeping in touch.

Change the System Over and Over.

Eve Rodsky spent years talking to couples and collecting data about how they ran their homes for her book Fair Play. She used this information to develop a new way to change how work gets done at home. You can read the book for more information, but the main point is that you and your partner need to work together to set clear expectations for what each of you will do to help care for the house and your kid.

The first step is to be very clear about all the jobs that go into keeping a house running, including taking care of children. The sheer magnitude of the tasks involved in keeping a house in good condition and raising a child can be overwhelming.

Making these lists together can also help you see what the other person is doing, which you might not be able to see right now because you are so busy. The next step is to decide who is in charge of each job so that everyone knows what they are in charge of. You can move toward a more balanced method by making a list of all the tasks and then dividing them up in a way that everyone agrees on.

Acceptance: That’s not right.

I had to co-parent and raise my three kids for years before I could accept an important truth I tell them daily: It’s not fair. When I try to work from home, my kids always bother me, but they don’t do that to my husband. I take care of school forms and doctor’s visits, and he takes care of any home maintenance issues that come up, like changing light bulbs or figuring out how home insurance works after a storm.

My husband and I have come a long way since the years when we were raising young children, and I felt the same way you do. We have found a better mix of who does what around the house, but part of being at peace with it was accepting that it won’t be 50/50. Life and parenting are just too messy for that to be true.

The key for you might be to find ways to share different responsibilities in a way that makes you both happy, not to look at every job and keep score. It may not always look like 50/50, but finding a method that works for both of you can make a huge difference in how much you have to do.


You’ve only been parents for two years, so you’re also at a stage where you’re a bit like kids. As you learn this new, difficult set of skills, you can and should throw some grown-up tantrums.

But the best way to keep building confidence and even a little bit of calm is to keep having tough talks with each other in a loving, respectful way that focuses on listening. Keep looking for new ways to make it work better, and accept that there will be some chaos and imbalance. Parenting is like a seesaw that always tips in one direction or another. If you keep working at it, though, you can at least enjoy the ride together.

And remember, you don’t have to do this by yourself, and it’s not your job to “fix” the way your partner acts. Don’t hesitate to ask a qualified counselor or therapist for help if you can. They can help you both find your way. Parenting is hard, and too many moms think they have to do everything themselves, but I promise you, there is help out there.

Meaningful articles you might like: Parenting Techniques for the Busy Mom, 19 Podcasts About Parenting That You Won’t Want to Miss, What Can I Do If I Disagree With My Partner’s Parenting