How Parenting Styles Differ Between Dads And Moms

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Father and child reading story book

At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we don’t necessarily believe “father knows best” but we do think it’s not “mother knows best” in every single situation. Dads often have different parenting styles from moms and this is not bad, just different. In fact, throughout our years of experience with many kinds of families, kids do just fine with two types of parenting models and indeed, are often better for it.

Common differences in dads’ and moms’ parenting styles

Rodd Stein 2R WEB72

Rodd Stein, MD, FAAP

In general, fathers focus less on making a child feel good or secure and more on challenging them and preparing them for the real world. When it comes to discipline, they tend to impose consequences more quickly and then talk later.

Mothers, on the other hand, tend to verbalize a lot more with their children (probably because women generally are more verbal than men). This translates into mothers offering more words of affirmation, expressing expectations more clearly and talking out issues involving discipline. And as most of us know, they also tend to be softer, more nurturing and less demanding.

Though different, men’s methods can be just as effective as women’s

Here are 8 ways that fathers’ methods may differ from those of their female partners but can still result in a happy, healthy, confident child.

  1. Dads turn work into play

What moms often see as chores — diaper changing, meal time, teeth brushing — dads often turn into playtime. A diaper becomes a hat, a spoonful of strained carrots can be a choo-choo train, clean-up time can turn into a race. The tasks still get done but Dad has made the process fun.

  1. Not so quick to fix the problem

When a toddler falls down, moms often swoop in to pick him/her up and soothe. Dads do the opposite: they let the child get back on his/her own two feet, figure out what went wrong and continue on their way. By letting their children work through problems themselves, dads are teaching them resilience and “stick-to-it-tiveness” — important qualities in life.

  1. Use grown-up words

Men tend to speak to their kids as equals, using bigger words and less baby talk. They are more inclined to teach them independence and less inclined to coddle. They are also quicker to offer constructive criticism. By giving “straight talk,” they’re subtly teaching their kids the way the world works and how to navigate it.

  1. Let kids take a risk

Dads are usually less overprotective than moms, allowing their kids to take risks because they recognize these as important keys to making their own way in the world.

  1. Trust their gut

While moms have a tendency to seek guidance and advice on what to do and how to do it, dads tend to follow their instincts. From potty-training to bedtimes, dads go with what makes sense to them and what seems right for their child.

  1. Get goofy

A lot of dads love to kid around. By being spontaneously silly and yet still keeping the house from falling apart, they’re teaching their kids important lessons in balancing business with pleasure, chores with fun.

  1. Pick their battles

With a headstrong toddler or preschooler (or teenager), it often feels like everything’s a fight. Dads tend to compromise, redirect the child’s attention or revisit what’s causing the tantrum at a later time. They often just seem to have an innate sense of what’s worth fighting over and what can be let go.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Dads are notorious for not worrying about certain details like stripes with polka dots, purple hair and untied shoelaces…and in the great scheme of things, we think that’s perfectly okay. We see a lot of kids who resent being micromanaged when they would rather be allowed to express themselves in creative ways.

Want to learn more about healthy ways to parent your child, either as a dad or a mom? Come see us.

If you have questions about parenting styles or any other aspect of your child’s health, please come in to see one of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians. Our #1 is to help you raise a happy, healthy child, and whether you’ve been with us for years or you’re a brand new parent, when you need us, we’re here for you.

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By Rodd Stein, MD, FAAP, a Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatrician.

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About the Author: ML Ball