5 Unexpected Ways in Which Dad’s Parenting Style is Different

Alan Shanley

April 27, 2016

dad and child

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Do you ever think it’s funny (not in the ha-ha sense of the word, but odd) how even in this age of equality, the roles of Mum and Dad are still so very different? Well it certainly appears to be the case in our house anyhow –  here are 5 Unexpected Ways In Which Dad’s Parenting Style is Different.

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I should qualify that what follows is based on my own personal experience (I’m a Dad of three aged 7, 4 and 5 months), and from talking to other Dad friends. And I think it’s fair to say that the role of Dads is still very different to that of Mums (and vice versa), when it comes to the very standard things that happen in every day family life.

#1. Extra Curricular Activities

Mum tends to book extra-curricular activities….

In my experience, it’s always Mum who physically books the child in for swimming lessons, dance classes or in fact anything at all that happens outside of the classroom.

Let’s face it, Dads generally aren’t very good at booking or organising things and Mums are rarely silly enough to hand over responsibility, knowing that even though it’s fairly straightforward, there is high potential for a unmitigated mess up!

sport with kids

Dad just brings, collects and partakes when required…

However, once the booking is sorted then Dad’s role is to do the bringing and the collecting, the standing at the sidelines, the coaxer (“of course you want to go to football training – all your pals will be there”) etc.

I speak from experience here: it’s very rare that you see a mum getting into the swimming pool with the kids when the kids are too small to go in by themselves. Don’t you agree? Ah yes, this experiential task is very much in Dad’s domain.

#2. Treats

Mum does give treats but only within the rules …

Of course Mums give treats, but they do so sparingly and at set times, and never just before mealtimes. And of course we know that this makes lots of sense because treats aren’t good for kids, and it’s important that the kids know that there is a limit.

child eating candy

Dad’s a softer touch, breaks the rules and give treats much more freely…

I totally get that treats aren’t good for kids, but why is it that Dads are always the go-to option for kids when they’re looking for sneaky extra treats (those outside of the ones that are agreed and set in stone)!

Is it that Dad’s are simply an easier, softer touch? Yes, and if so, is this for the simple reason that Dads are often less tolerant, and realise that that once the kids are happy, life is a lot easier all round (and they can finally sit down to watch the match). Hmmm….

#3. General Messing & Play Acting

Mum is just too busy doing multiple chores to have time for non-stop messing..

No-one would ever argue that Mums don’t like messing and play-acting as much as Dad does. However, the fact is that Mums simply don’t have as much time to mess because they’re too busy. Busy multi-tasking, doing all the various jobs that need to be done to keep the kids clothed, fed, and fully functioning!

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Dad’s the instigator of the messing, and is always looking for any opportunity to act the maggot..

Dads always seem to be the instigators of new and ridiculous messing-related activities. But did you ever notice that while Dads are usually very good at inventing new games and ideas for tomfoolery, they’re not quite so good at seeing what practical things are needed in terms of washing, clothing, homework etc? (I speak from experience here!)

#4. Bath-time, Grooming and Dressing

Mum knows that kids simply need a bath, nice clean clothes (and that these don’t just happen automatically)….

Bath time is usually fun for both parents and kids alike but yet, do you ever find that it’s always Mum who instigates bath time? (Or is this unique to my house?!)

It comes back to Mums being much more practically minded when it comes to kids; they realise that bathing is not optional and that kids aren’t going to come and ask them “if they can have a bath tonight, please?” And the same goes for clean clothes, clean bed linen, hair grooming and styling,and general maintenance too!

baby bath

Dad also knows this but only acts when Mum decides that tonight is bath night!

As mentioned Dads are all for a bit of messing and fun….wherever it’s happening, they’re usually there. However, while they very much enjoy the splashing and the fun part of bath time, did you ever notice that they’ll rarely suggest that the kids need a bath or actively do the actual washing part!? Or the dreaded hair-washing and combing part, or the nit combing, or the supervised teeth brushing, or the upstyling…

#5. Homework

Mum knows that homework needs to be done (even if kids don’t want to do it)…

No one is saying that Mums enjoy doing homework with their kids – after all they’re not called homework battles for nothing! Mums however simply realises that it’s a key learning activity which just needs to be done, as opposed to an optional activity to do if the mood hits. They are also pretty good at keeping their cool during this activity, because let’s be honest, that’s not always easy!

boy girl homework mum

Dad is also fully aware of this (but assumes that because this isn’t a fun activity, Mum will look after it)….

Sounds very harsh I know but don’t take it the wrong way. As a Dad myself I can assure you, it’s not that we choose to ignore the kids’ homework and hope it will go away. It’s simply that for some reason, our male minds seem to focus at all times on fun related activities (hmm, what game can I come up with now that they’ll love!?), rather than on the activities that are, let’s face it, dull, but essential in their everyday lives and their ongoing development.

Recommended Reading: Mommas Homework Mantra

Having read this, hopefully all you Mums out there will see that, despite our many flaws and failings, us Dads aren’t really just opting out of the non-fun child raising activities and actively thinking that we’ll leave all of those practical things to the Mum because she’s better at them.

The truth is, we think very differently (in fact, sometimes not at all!), and simply aren’t as good at organising, multi-tasking, and doing all those vital things that, deep down, we know need to be done. 

But we both bring our own special skills to parenting, and that’s what counts!

5 Unexpected Ways In Which Dad's Parenting Style Is Different

Over to you! What do you think? Any more areas where Mums and Dads differ greatly? Let us know in the comments below.

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Published On: April 27th, 2016 / Categories: For Parents / Last Updated: April 3rd, 2021 / Tags: /

About the Author: Alan Shanley

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Alan Shanley runs a copywriting agency called The Right Words. Aside from writing though, he is also a keen landscape photographer (well, used to be when he had free time!) a lover of music (in particular singer songwriters), and Haribo jellies, and of course an extremely dedicated Dad and competent chauffeur to his 3 young kids aged 7, 4 and 5 months!

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