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The Daddy Way




May 22, 2007

The Daddy Way

James Mehring

I am finding more differences in how Lyn and I handle situations with our toddler. For instance, when our daughter starts crying in the middle of the night, I am more apt to wait a minute of two before jumping out of bed while my wife tends to bounce out of bed and rush to the crib. Lyn keeps things moving at night so that our daughter gets to bed by 8:30, while I tend ignore the clock in the evening. And I probably give our daughter more latitude to do things like climb up our porch steps or slide off our bed—although, I make sure that I am right beside her. These are all things that irk Lyn to varying degrees.

It seems that I am not alone. No, not that I drive my wife crazy at times. It turns out, according to an article written by Emily Bloch in the June issue of Parenting Magazine, that I share some parenting traits of other fathers.

Here is the list of those “Daddy Differences”:

*Lets kids take risks

*Trusts himself more than experts

*Ignores the details

*Acts like a kid

*Waits before he jumps in

*Doesn’t make a bid deal over every battle

It’s reassuring to know that there are people like me out there and some who even think there is some value in what I am doing. I sometimes wonder if I am not being a good parent. Is the tradeoff of learning to how to get off the couch or climb a step worth the risk of a sore bottom or a scraped knee? Am I throwing off my daughter’s sleeping pattern by keeping her up an extra 20 minutes some nights and how bad is that? Do inconsistencies in how Lyn and I handle situations send mixed messages to our daughter or make parenting harder for Lyn? These are things have crossed my mind after the fact but in the moment it doesn’t seem so bad.

There is another observation that I completely related to. Ms. Bloch writes, “Lately, I've noticed that a funny thing happens when I lay off the judgment: Aron and I are more likely to be open to trying the other's approach.” That’s how things seem to work at home with us as well.

At the same time, I am a little skeptical of such blanket ascriptions. When it comes to acting like a kid and being silly, Lyn is just as whacky as me. And both of us have areas where we consistently hold the line. I am more strict about TV, for instance.

I am curious about whether other Moms and Dads agree with the traits above. Or are there other parenting differences you have noticed with your spouse or friends?

05:49 PM

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Hey James we are in the same shoes! I thought I was wrong if I left the toddler for a while when he cried. What my wife does is she always feels "guilty" when our child left unattended. But personally I take the middle path: Don't overly pamper (you'll spoil him) and don't totally ignore (he thinks you don't love him). And use our judgment to decide what to do for every situation.

Posted by: Abel at May 23, 2007 03:18 AM

Hi James. I'm a work-at-home dad and cognitive psychologist--- FYI there is a bunch of research that shows it is perfectly natural, and actually developmentally important, to have variety in parenting styles. One relevant article I like to point to as a primer on how conventional gender differences in parenting styles have developmental benefits (from some psychologists at Sesame St.):

Ultimately, while styles may be different, I personally think the most important factor is to be jointly-consistent in implementing rules that have been established (e.g., don't undercut your spouse's authority by saying yes to something they've said no to).

IMO, there's nothing more rewarding than being a good dad.

Posted by: Chris Furmanski at May 24, 2007 06:47 PM

My wife and I don't always see eye to eye on issues. The kids go to bed late when she gets home late so she can spend time with them. Sometimes she will keep them up till 11pm. THis drives me crazy. I want to spend alone time with her and she want to be with the kids. I think its unhealthy and selfish and when I address the issue, I am the bad guy. I cant win here, I need a little help.

Posted by: KCG at May 25, 2007 12:22 PM

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