Dads do it different

Moms and Dads do childcare differently. I’m not talking about Michael Keaton being incompetent in “Mr. Mom” or those three goofballs in “Three Men and a Baby“. Dads are competent and we love our kids but we *do* the tasks of childcare differently than Moms do.

Take tonight, for instance. Tonight my wife is at a Board meeting for the Coastside Mother’s Club and I’m watching the three oldest kids. Little Eeya is with her at the meeting because she took pity on me. The kids’ swimming lessons last until 5:00 on Thursdays so we got home late and decided it was pizza and a movie night. After a cheese pizza, teeth brushing and bathroom breaks we settled down to watch Curious George, easily the best movie for small kids in quite a few years. (Way better than the horrible job Ron Howard did with the Polar Express, he should be flogged for that mess).

When my my wife is doing the bedtime routine on her own she usually snuggles with the kids on the couch and reads books until everyone is drowsy. That’s a good system and I like to read with the kids, too. But when we do movie night we don’t snuggle on the couch. We dance to the musical scenes, we stick our tongues out and waggle them around when George and the Man in the Yellow Hat do likewise. We goof around. So when Mama and Eeya came in the front door a little while ago the kids and I were money-dancing and giggling to the closing credits before bedtime. Now, a few minutes after the big ones got in bed, Eeya is playing on the floor and the Honey is asking how I got them to go to bed after getting them riled up moments earlier. The short answer is that Dads parent different than Moms and the kids behave differently with me than they do with her.

Probably the best example of this is seen at the Dads and Kids Campouts that our church sponsors every summer. Take 40-some Dads and roughly 80-90 Kids and plunk them down in a campsite with a dozen picnic tables, 4 grills, 2 toilets and no Moms. The kids get to watch their dads share cooking duties with other dads and the dads get a concentrated dose of watching their kids play. The dads and kids get concentrated time together and the dads get a chance to talk to other dads.
We do 4 of these campouts every summer and they’re huge fun. It’s a given that the moms would be displeased (horrified?) at some of the parenting practices that the dads use but so far we haven’t had any serious problems. For instance, the dads generally establish boundaries for the kids and letting them run semi-wild within those boundaries. By contrast, when the Coastside Mother’s Club does their family (moms, dads and kids) campouts the kids are generally closely supervised.

Moms and Dads do it different but we both get the job done … unless you’re talking about breastfeeding. That’s still pretty much mom-thing.

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3 Comments on “Dads do it different”

  1. Mike Says:

    I remember hearing something once about how important it is for dads to rough house their kids. First, it gets them riled up and they burn off some energy. Second, they get to see dad get all riled up and then calm down right away when it is over which helps them learn to do the same and makes grade school teachers very happy. I’m sure it would work with mom, too, but I know in our house with two 40+ lb twins, I do the roughest of the rough housing. Mom would wear herself out if she tried to do that on the days she is home to watch the kids. I only have to do it for a couple of hours before dinner.

  2. Jared Says:

    My wife usually gets worried when I get our son going before bedtime, but he’s never had a problem falling asleep. My dad’s in town this week, though, and last night my son had a horrible time going to bed.

    Not my fault!

  3. Erika Says:

    A great teacher at my kids school has observed that moms try to keep their kids from getting hurt, and dads try to keep their kids from getting hurt…badly. I think he’s right!


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