In most families, yesteryear’s dad had one major role. He had to go to work and support his family financially. Secondarily, he was brought in for major disciplinary action (“wait till your father gets home”).
No hugs, no kisses, no “I love you” was expected from Dad. Those tender moments, like every other aspect of parenting, were left to Mom. (In those days, she was not a stay-at-home mom, she was just Mom).
Oh, how different things are today. When it comes to parenting, men are no longer relegated to the sidelines. They are not bumbling, clueless dads.
From the very beginning (“we are pregnant”), they are involved. Dads change diapers, feed their kids, bathe them, tell them stories, hug them, kiss them, tell them “I love you” and much more.
As children grow older, dads take them to school, help with their homework, coach their teams, know who their friends are, play games with them, joke with them, laugh with them, discipline them, and talk with them — from telling silly jokes to having that tough talk.
In short, today’s dads are involved in their kids’ lives. And the whole family (dads, moms and kids) are richer for it. Not just because active dads make parenting easier for moms. But because dad is not a replica of mom, not simply doing mom’s bidding, but is an active male presence that’s good for both girls and boys to experience.
Of course, not all dads act the same. But typically, dads interact with their kids in a more physical, less skittish manner than moms. They may toss their kids up in the air, chase them around the room, roughhouse with them, and have an all-out tickle fest. If Mom is observing, chances are she’s warning Dad to cool it, take it down a peg and enough already.
Listen to the banter at the playground. You will often hear Mom warning her kid to “be careful” while Dad’s encouraging him (or her) to swing faster, climb higher and fight back when bullied.
Dads not only spur kids on with their words and actions, they typically approach tasks with a results-oriented attitude (“do it whether you feel like doing it or not”). In our highly competitive society, moms, of course, are also task-oriented, but they do tend to be more empathetic, giving significance to how their child is feeling in the moment.
Whose parenting style is right? Mom or Dad? The answer: both.
When mom and dad display their unique parenting styles (and don’t put each other down for their differences), kids are exposed to more than one way to view a situation. This enriches their thinking.
Though many parents believe a united front is best, you can’t put much over on kids these days. They know what Dad thinks, what Mom thinks and whose way it’s going to be on this particular matter.
When kids are lucky enough to be growing up with an engaged dad, they have a giant head start in life, feeling more secure and more knowledgeable from the get-go. An added bonus: they will never wonder about who their dad was, envisioning him as the Lone Ranger (“Who was that masked man?”).
Happy Father’s Day to this new generation of amazing dads!