written by Sarah Lyons
photo by Ruth & Rene Photography
There is no denying that there are differences between how moms and dads parent their kids. Just because dads may do things differently than moms doesn’t mean their parenting style is less beneficial to kids. A different perspective on how to handle challenges, how to have fun, and how to show affection is great for kids. Here are some great ways dads are different.
Dads Play Differently
When I watch my husband interact with our kids, I notice one major difference, how they play together. My husband will often hide and when the kids start looking for him, he will jump out and scare them. He fills water balloons for an hour to have a water fight that lasts five minutes. He spends time building Legos and helping the kids learn how to follow the instructions. He wrestles with, laughs with, and good-naturedly teases the kids. They love it. Most of these things I would rarely do, some I would avoid if possible. Dads have a way of bringing silliness and fun into our kids lives, usually in the form of a game. The kids love it, the dads love it, and it strengthens the bond between them.
Dads are More Flexible
This may not apply to all dads but many are a little more flexible than moms. When I was a little girl my mom had a weekly night out with her friends and my dad was in charge. This often meant fried egg and ketchup sandwiches and staying up late watching TV. I remember one day dad let us have ice cream for dinner. We walked to the ice cream shop and my brother and I ordered bubble gum ice cream cones. By the time we had walked home, we were covered in a sticky mess. Instead of a bath dad sprayed us down with a hose, took us inside and changed us right into our pajamas and called it a night. We all laughed the whole time, including my dad, and I remember thinking how mom would never have allowed that. The next night we went back to our normal routine but those little moments of silliness and flexibility taught me that sometimes it’s okay to set aside the rules and routine and have fun.
Dads Show Affection Differently
Kids enjoy snuggling up with both mom and dad but in addition to sitting together reading a book or watching a movie, dads have a way of showing affection that is different from mom. They wrestle, tickle, and roughhouse. They lift kids up on their shoulders and carry them around and often spend time roughhousing and showing affection in a totally different way than women typically do. They carry kids to their beds and throw them onto a pile of pillows, which is usually rewarded with giggles and a shout of “Do it again!”. Dads have a knack for showing affection and having fun at the same time.
Dads Encourage Kids to Try New Things
I love how my husband encourages the kids to try new things. It is usually easier for me to just order food for the kids when we are at a restaurant but my husband lets them speak to the waitress themselves and order their own food. This teaches them independence and how to be comfortable speaking to other adults. If they are too shy to do so, he pushes them out of their comfort zone and tells them they can do it, gently encouraging them to try something new. There are so many situations like this. Dads often will push kids to try new things, learn to do things themselves, or tell them to follow the directions on their own.
There may be differences between how moms and dads parent their kids but neither is right or wrong. Each parent has something unique to teach their kids and different ways of showing love.