The nuggets fathers bring to parenting-River City Counseling

When my son was little, his heath, work schedules and finances dictated our parenting schedule.   Although I never thought of myself as an at-home dad, the sheer number of days I spent alone with my son left me feeling similarly to many of the dads I spoke to who were at home full-time.

For several years on Tuesdays my son and I met for what I called “hippy mom’s group” at the park.  I became the token dad among a group of at-home moms who were connected through a local mom’s support network.  They knew each other well, and I quickly realized that they depended largely on each other to supervise their children.  It seemed that many of them didn’t feel the need to watch over their kids intently, due to confidence in the community of moms.

Maybe I was a bit of a helicopter dad, but I was never comfortable with that set-up.  I didn’t want others to watch my son; it was my responsibility to do so.  The same seemed to be true of the other dads at the park.  With few exceptions, they stood quietly alone and watched their kids.

At the time, I assumed these men were lonely and didn’t feel comfortable seeking the same connection with other parents as I had.  Perhaps that was part of it, but looking back, I don’t think loneliness or lack thereof was the point.  Instead, it was our job as fathers to watch our kids, and on many levels we didn’t want to outsource this job to others.

Unfortunately, many people conclude that just because fathers tend not to collaborate as much as women and thus aren’t so interconnected, we’re somehow less knowledgeable, effective and nurturing parents.  And because of this there’s societal pressure to defer to mothers and model our parenting after them.

Sure, we may be a bit less overtly affectionate and more hands-on with our kids, but is there anything inherently wrong with that?  When my son sees me and all he wants to do is be physical and wrestle and roughhouse (in ways he would never be with his mother) and I participate in a loving, playful way, am I being any less nurturing than when my wife cuddles him when his feelings are hurt?   Likely not…

That’s not to say I want to parent in a vacuum, without feedback, thinking that my parenting is good enough on its own.  My wife and I communicate regularly about how we parent our son.  (And, truth be told, there are many times in which my wife and I flip-flop our stereotypical roles.)  If I’ve become too firm, she lets me know, in the same way as I tell her if I think her nurturing becomes more coddling than anything else.  Still, I try not to lose sight of the fact that our son needs both types of parenting:  calm and gentle nurturing and firm and fair nurturing.  Kids need the best of both their fathers and mothers…


One Response to The nuggets fathers bring to parenting-River City Counseling
  1. Christina
    June 9, 2013 | 5:50 am

    What an extraordinary parent you are, a role model for everyone! I never thought about these ideas before, the difference between moms and dads—very inciteful!

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