Husband & Wife Articles

Father Knows Best

A good mother knows when her husband should decide

By Rachel Swenson Balducci

My husband, Paul, and I have a lot of boys. In fact, till our daughter was born last year, all we had around our home were boys – boys in the front room, boys scaling the pantry walls, boys climbing in and out of the dining room windows.

With so many men in the making, it has always seemed natural for me to look to my husband’s leadership when it comes to dealing with our sons. This has been a gift. In so many of our day-to-day parenting decisions, I am inclined to seek Paul’s wisdom, to ask for his input and listen to it.

Rachel Swenson Balducci

Mother and blogger Rachel Balducci writes about her house of boys.

This can sometimes be a challenge for a wife, especially when she is the primary parent at home running the show. I make the decisions about the menu and the shopping list, the laundry and our daily rhythm. The weekly schedule is ingrained in my head, and I’m the one who keeps track of where we need to be and when (and how we’re going to get there).

It would be a natural extension of all these duties to also heavily call the shots when it comes to dealing with the children. Since I’m the one at home most of the day dealing with the in’s and out’s of brotherly love – or the lack of it – it would make sense that I’d be the one making decisions about discipline.

While there are many details in child-rearing that do in fact fall heavily on mom, I discovered early on that trusting in my husband’s insight and wisdom – him being a former boy and all – was one of the best avenues for my sanity.

It also was a boon for our boys. Sometimes, it’s easy for a mother – as a woman – to project a degree of emotion into certain situations that just isn’t there. Yes, boys have feelings, but these are not the same feelings as his mother.

During a recent soccer season, one of our boys got in a heated discussion with a teammate at the end of a game. There was a difference in opinion about how a certain play should have been handled and the tone got elevated and a bit heated.

After the encounter, I was inclined to make my son apologize, despite the fact that the two boys left the encounter on friendly terms.

“What if the teammate has hurt feelings,” I said to my husband.

Boys aren’t like that, was his reply. It’s not that they don’t get offended or that they are immune to mean comments. It’s that this situation did not warrant an apology beyond the handshake the boys had already exchanged.

I saw that interaction through my female perspective; my husband saw it through the lens of being a man. I trusted his judgment and let it go. My boy and his friend had already done just that.

As a mother of boys, I am tasked with raising tomorrow’s men. In order to do a good job, I need my husband’s point of view. He knows far better than I what it takes to be a strong man of God – and that is what I pray we produce with each of our boys.

Having said all this, there is certainly a time and place for a mother’s heart and gentle strength. Most of the time Paul and I agree, other times I defer – and then there are those occasions when I am confident that my female intuition senses better what needs to happen.

Case in point: a few years ago, we were having family movie night. Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” was on television, and my husband thought that sounded like a good choice. Our boys had appreciated “Lord of the Rings” after all, how could a flock of gulls be scarier than an army of orcs?

Except, I remembered watching this avian flick as a high school senior and being terrified. I wasn’t convinced this was our best cinematic option.

About 20 minutes into the film, our boys were fidgety. One boy covered his eyes, another covered his ears.

“I don’t think this is a good idea,” I said. Paul thought it was fine.

I deferred.

A few minutes later, as another round of birds dive-bombed, the boys got antsy again and I reached for the remote.

“They’re okay,” said my husband, as I peeled a boy off of my forearm.

I deferred.

Finally, our terrified sons watched as a bird crashed into a window, his broken wings flayed about the shattered glass pane.

Our 7-year-old looked at Paul and me.

“Are you sure this is appropriate for children,” he asked.

What did I do? I got up from the couch and searched for a new show.

Rachel Swenson Balducci, the author of the book How Do You Tuck In A Superhero?, blogs at