parent opinion

'The four-word question husbands need to stop asking.'


Dear Husbands/Partners (not all, but many),

I’m writing on behalf of the women you’re in a relationship with. The ones you have a life with. The ones you share kids with.

They’re some of my friends, and many of my readers, and they want you to know something – because they’re telling me they’ve had enough. And I promise you, if you really heed this thing, it will be a game-changer at home. It’s that good.

So here it is:

Please stop asking the mother of your children “How can I help?”

You are an equal in this parenting gig – you’re not ‘helping’ the mother of your kids. In the exact same way you don’t ‘babysit’ your own children.

I know your intentions are good. You absolutely think you’re asking the right thing. But guys, that question is problematic. That question implies you are not as equally capable as your wife/partner in looking after the kids, and running the house – that you need a boss.

And that is absolutely not true.

You know what to do, and you don’t need permission, or instruction, from the mother of your kids to do any of it.

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You are (presumably) a fully grown man. You have a job (hopefully) and know how to function in the real world. You understand the fundamentals of being a living human being.

But also, you were a child once, too. You know what they need. To be fed, bathed, clothed, exercised, read to, entertained, engaged with. But even if you don’t remember, you’ve seen it on the movies, and on tv. It’s not hard to figure out.

Worst case scenario, if you really and truly don’t know what you’re doing, YouTube an instructional video, like this one:

So please, you don’t need to ask “What can I do?”

I know you’re trying to be helpful, but this is the truth: it’s the opposite of helpful.

It’s irritating when a mother is right in the middle of being a mum, and she has to stop and give instructions to the father of the children (not a babysitter, not a stranger, but the only other person in the world whom the kids actually belong to).

She doesn’t want to be your manager. She doesn’t want to be your boss. You don’t have to ask permission to contribute to a home and family that is equally yours.

The mental load of having a family is not just this woman’s alone. The mother of your kids needs you to be a grown up, not another thing she has to supervise and take care of.


Of course, there are many things you need to discuss – as equals:

I’m going to run the bath. Do you want to eat at 6 or 7? I’ll get dinner organised – how does pasta sound? I’ll hang out the washing if you’re ok to do the readers?

All excellent ideas.

Take the initiative. Just start unpacking the dishwasher. Order the Uber Eats and make an executive decision as to whether you’re getting Indian or fish and chips.

Do something, anything, other than ask, “How can I help?” or “What can I do?” Because you really do know what to do.

And please don’t say you’re too scared of your wife/partner because ‘you never do anything right.’ That’s not a legitimate enough excuse for the next twenty years. If you are the recipient of that kind of feedback on a regular basis – maybe, just maybe, she has a point. Whatever it is, sort that sh*t out, and just get on with it.

Because that’s the key to surviving parenthood: just bloody getting on with it.

Consider this advice our New Year’s present to you. Because, as you well know: happy wife, happy life.

If you’d like to hear more from Nama Winston, check out her stories, and subscribe to her weekly newsletter here.