Two years ago, in this very space, I wrote about how my husband and I were worlds apart when it came to parenting styles.
We’re now two years wiser, our son two years older (4+), and guess what? We’re still exactly where we were two years ago. The scenarios are slightly different, but our roles remain the same: He’s still the “fun” parent. I’m the rule maker.
One key change? I’ve learned to embrace our differences. (Do not interpret that to mean that I don’t get annoyed with the differences. I’ve just learned to accept them, like the stack of dirty dishes sitting in my kitchen sink right now while said husband snoozes on the couch after promising to wash them.)
Acceptance is liberating. But so is realizing that – as much as you’d hate to admit it – Dad’s approach may actually work. A story I read recently reminded me of that. Here are the big takeaways for me:
Thou shalt accept allowing your kids to take risks: Dads tend to be more at ease with letting their children get banged around a bit. That scraped knee may be painful now, but Dad is betting next time Little Danny won’t climb the playground with two toys in hand. My tendency? Tell Danny to put down the toys before he starts climbing.
Thou shalt accept that less-than-perfect is OK: So what if Dad dresses Danny in an outfit even a colorblind person wouldn’t put together? And will my son even notice that his shirt is on backwards? It’s not the end of the world. The time Mom spends correcting Dad’s behavior could probably be better spent just enjoying the moment with the family.
Thou shalt accept that acting like a kid has its benefits: My husband has mastered the art of distraction. My son won’t jump in the bathtub? Dad pretends to start taking off his own clothes and runs to the bathroom to beat my son to it. My son doesn’t want to go to bed? Dad secretly steals a few of his toys and mysteriously places them in the hallway leading to his bedroom. Both work like a charm. And if I tried either, my son would see right through it. Dad has the magic touch.
What’s your parenting style? And if you’re wondering where you and your significant other fall on the parenting spectrum, take this test.