Why I think the Emperor Penguins have it right: Lessons from my husband


What if we have all had it wrong and, like the Emperor Penguins, it’s the dads who are supposed to take care of the children while the moms go out to do the hunting and gathering?

Yes! Sign me up.

My husband does seem to have a better relationship with the kids in some areas. There’s never an argument between he and our 11-year-old after a homework session, or the two-hour crying from the 5-year-old when he asks her to make her bed.

When he tells them it’s time to go to sports practice they are so happy and ready to go, it’s as if he were saying, “Come get ice cream and watch TV all day!”

I sometimes catch myself wondering what the heck is really going on. Is he really just that much “nicer” than me, like my daughter sometimes puts it, or is he bribing them with ice cream behind my back?

It started to hurt my feelings so I decided to follow in my husband’s footsteps and become “Nice Mom.”

So one day, when my son got of the school bus, we walked home together and I listened to him talk about science, made sandwiches and — wait for it– two glasses of warm chocolate milk.

BAM! How do you like me now kiddos?

Twenty minutes into homework it all seemed awesome until my son got out his math book and I saw out of the corner of my eye that his book bag was a mess with old candy wrappers, empty water bottles, pencils everywhere, and what looked like a half-eaten apple.

I tried so hard not to say anything about the dirty book bag but finally asked him to clean it out, which meant he had to spend more time finishing up his homework, meaning he was going to be late for football practice, which he hates.

I ran the scenario by my husband, who walked away, looking at me with pity and asked, “Why do you keep doing this to yourself?”

I asked myself, “Why am I not a penguin?”

He returned to the room, handed me a glass of white wine and began his teachings with the opening statement: Kids know how to be humans if you just let them be. Hetaught me these three lessons:

Lesson 1

When you ask the kids to do their chores, trust that they will do it, and then leave them alone to get it done. When they are done doing the chores but it’s not done completely correctly, just leave it alone, especially when there’s no guest coming over.

Lesson 2

Stop stressing yourself out by focusing on too many things at the same time. If you are doing homework with the kids, then designate a time to just do homework. Do not cut onions, peel peppers, clean book bags, scrub toilets or anything else but homework during homework hours.

Lesson 3

Leave the kids alone to be humans. When it’s time for sports, don’t always go checking behind them to make sure they have got everything they need. Leave them alone sometime to make mistakes; they will grow from it.

I needed a bigger glass of wine. While I already know everything he was saying, it’s hard to get outside my idea of what mommy-hood should be.

Does he expect me to look back into my childhood and say to the five different women who raised me, including my dead grandmother, “Oh by the way, you gals had it so wrong.”

Has he ever had an African grandmother? For one, they are never wrong and two, I like not being slapped by a dead old lady.

What if he wasn’t saying that I had to tell anyone that their way of raising children is or was wrong, only that as moms, we should choose our battles?

What if sometimes men are better at handling some of the nurturing to children then we women are? Then I say perfect! Adios amigos!  You can catch me hunting through the cold ocean, wearing my black and white coat and living the life of a beautiful mommy penguin.

Photo Credit: Vida Forward

This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.


  1. I have so many opinions about this article, but the only two (2) I will comment on are the Errors in Grammar and the Context of the African American mother. Please proof read these articles before publishing them or at least correct them later if necessary. Secondly, a Black Grandmother raising a Black Child is very different then a white man raising a Black Child in America. Reality and expectations are extremely different. The confidence to explore life with human behavior trail and error is fine for the privilege, but for those who have been judged and taught to conform are survival traits that Black mothers had to teach because of historial patterns. So, in short this article is short on substance and context.

  2. C Kelly,
    Sweet heart, what you are saying does not relate to my article. Please read, THINK and try not to reply with nonsense to my articles.


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