Celebrating the Differences in Dad
When I was a little kid, we had the special game called “Bear Trap.” My dad would be lying on the couch, and we would attempt to get close, and he would -predictably- “trap” one of us and tickle us. Whoever was caught would try to get away with the help of the other two. There was lots of laughing, rough-housing, tumbling about, and even the occasional crying when things got out of hand. But even if there was crying; it didn’t stop us the next time dad was lying on the couch. This was a game nobody else played with us – not mom, or family friends, or teachers. Only Dad.
Now that I’m an adult; and my husband and I have raised kids of our own, I know that my experiences aren’t unique. When it comes to parenting, daddies are different. How they play, how they communicate and interact, how they console and congratulate their children is different than how mothers tend to do these things.
- How they play: Dad’s like to roughhouse with their kids. Games like wrestling, chasing each other, and keepaway. The ways they play with their kids tend to promote physical development, coordination, and strategy. (Whereas mothers tend to play with toys and games in ways that encourage social and cognitive development.)
- How they communicate: Let’s be honest. Moms and dads both baby talk to small children. But as the child grows, dads tend to use bigger words, and more complex sentences with them sooner. They also expect kids to respond verbally, as opposed to crying, whining, or using other nonverbal cues, sooner than mothers do. There are other differences too. Dads don’t say as much to their kids, instead tending to interact physically. When they do talk to their kids, it tends to be more directive, like asking a child to do something or giving instruction (moms repeat what they say, offer explanations, and ask questions frequently about anything and everything). Dads style challenges kids to articulate what they think, know, and feel (Whereas mom’s style is calming.).
- How they interact: Dads like to interact in less conventional ways. They like to joke, tease, and use humor a lot more often than mothers. As long as the teasing and joking is done in a healthy non-bullying manner, this type of parenting can help kids learn how to deal with the unexpected, which can help them deal with the outside world better.
- How they console: Dads are more likely to let their child handle their frustrations by themselves for a longer time than moms do. This parenting style, when done healthfully, can help children develop a sense of independence, builds confidence, and helps develop self-help and troubleshooting skills.
Sometimes these differences come across with dads seeming gruffer or not as nice as moms, but Dads love their children as much. They just show it in different ways. Dads will be quiet and just smile, when they are so proud of the accomplishments of their kids, (first time riding a bike, performing in a play or with orchestra or band, …) Many times they are fighting back tears, not wanting to look weak. Sometimes they act strong to protect their kids, like when their daughter goes on their first date, or when their son learns to drive. Just remember that in those actions Dads are showing that they love you. Sunday is their day and I hope all of you get to say happy father’s day to your dad or to that guy that was the father in your life.
Happy Father’s Day!