Mar 212012

I think about this a lot as I am home with Thomas. How different is the care, nurturing and raising that happens? I know there are differences… for example I know that my wife is more nurturing than I am. Note to my wife: You are amazing, this isn’t criticism, please don’t take it that way ;)

If Thomas starts crying, my wife is quick to render hugs, kisses and nurturing. When this happens and it is just Thomas and I, I don’t rush to pick him up and I don’t immediately plant hugs/kisses on him. I watch for his reactions; is this a ‘wailing he is really hurt cry’ or just a little whimper of a cry? Is he just looking for attention? If this is a wailing, really hurt cry I of course pick him up and tend to him, make sure he is okay. Most of the time though, this isn’t the case and he just wants some attention. When I give him time to figure out that he really isn’t hurt, he usually stops crying after about 10 seconds or so and goes back to playing. Of course sometimes he cries longer and I keep a watchful eye on this, if it goes longer than I think it should (over 30 seconds is about my limit), I pick him up and nurture him.

Both of these methods work well, he stops crying, but why do we have different methods? I mean, I didn’t read a book that taught me this method, what I do just feels like the right way to handle the situation to me and I’m sure that my wife does what feels natural and proper to her.

I see other differences in how we play with Thomas, how we interact with Thomas, even how we encourage him to play with his toys. I think that will be a different article, I kind of just wanted to get the conversation started…

I’m going to link this Wikipedia article I saw when we were deciding if I should stay home or not… This article lists some interesting advantages that fathers instill in children over mothers (as a generalization). Perhaps this all goes back to the book Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus (which I have read). Male and female brains just function differently, we process thoughts and emotions differently, we solve problems differently and we definitely handle stress in different ways.

Do you see differences in how mommy and daddy care for the kids? Please share them in the comments.

  17 Responses to “How Different Are Mom’s vs. Dad’s Caring Methods?”

  1. I think having slightly different nurturing styles is good – as long as you are on the same page with the big issues, like how to discipline, rules of the house, religious practices, etc. Kids are very adaptable to different situations and caregivers and I think it gives them balance, and helps them understand that different things may be expected of them in different contexts.

    My husband has a weird work schedule that allows him big chunks of home time but then big chunks of time when I am solo parenting. We definitely have different styles on some things. He gives Miles more free reign in many ways and doesn’t hover over him as closely as I do, and doesn’t understand as much of his toddler speak, so Miles is a bit more likely to have a tantrum, get a minor injury, not be understood when he asks for something. But then, he has more room to explore and figure things out on his own. I am more closely tuned in to his quirks but also more of a disciplinarian (feel like I have to be with my long solo gigs).

    Right now Miles looooves his daddy and daddies in general. When my husband is home, I am not “allowed” to read any of the bedtime stories because Daddy does them better. But that’s fine with me – the timing couldn’t be better since we are adding a newborn to the mix very soon!

    • Well congrats on the addition, Erin.

      We aren’t yet at the point where Thomas can tell us who does what better (that might sting a little to hear the first few times :( ). I wager that more of these differences will come out over time and it will be Thomas who tells us about them.

      I do feel fortunate that my wife is able to watch Thomas for a lot of the week, nearly as much as I do. I hope that Thomas learns from us both and enjoys all of the time we both spend with him.

  2. In general, I am more compassionate than my husband. I am quick to kiss and hug them after they get hurt, whereas my husband doesn’t. But, he’ll be the first one to dress their wounds or get them an ice pack. He takes care of the physical; I take care of the emotional. (This is, of course when we’re together. If I’m alone, I’ll take care of the physical and the emotional.) We’ve both had our moments of telling the boys to “suck it up” when they’re not really hurt or to say “shake it off” on the soccer field. And, those moments are really well-intended. I want my boys to be sensitive, but if they cry too easily, they’ll get picked on. No parent wants that.

    • Indeed no parent wants their child to be picked on. I do want my son to understand that it will happen to some degree and that it isn’t the end of the world, he can move on. Bullying is so rampant in the media, I have a hard time believing it is that much worse than when I was a child. The internet probably does play a big role though, larger audiences reached and faster dissemination of information…

  3. I truly believe that it takes one man and one woman to create a child because children need both the influences a man and a woman provide. Some men are more nurturing than some women, some women are emotionally stronger than some men… however it works out in each family, the child has the best chance at being rounded if he has both influences… IMHO…

    • I agree with you Scott, both influences are ideal and well rounded children are what any parent could hope for.

      Thanks for commenting :)

  4. Thomas knows your reactions to his happiness, sadness and pain, as part of who you are. He loves knowing how you and your wife will react, and that consistency is foundational.
    It is immaterial to him that you may react differently.

    • As a few have said, I think there is some importance in allowing the freedoms and independent growth of young children. I am really interested in reading more studies about the differences and advantages/disadvantages. For each study with one result there can be 10 studies with the opposite result too…

  5. I think God wired us differently for a reason. Children brought up by both parents get a little bit of what they are suppose to have from both of them. Men may not be as nurturing in the huggie huggie kissie kissie make it feel better way but they would not hesitate to defend their child’s emotional wellbeing against anyone. You may take this the wrong way but men were not wired to be the caregiver women are. Although some women shouldn’t but that is another story. I think children are better off with either parent staying home to care for them and I admire and respect that fact that you and your wife decided it would be you. Children for the most part just want to know someone is there for them whether it is for the I’m tired cry or I’m hungry cry. At some point he may choose who he wants to kiss the boo boo better or who he wants to feed him. I know my son did.

  6. I loved the article on the advantages of dads staying home. It’s quite common in Sweden actually which is nice to see. My husband was a SAHD for a while and the benefits have been clear!

  7. I play more with the grandboys, but they still like Grampa better. My son-in-law says it’s only because they like his mustache. “You should grow one, Ma,” he encouraged.

  8. Hi, Being the Best Dad! I enjoy reading your blog. You are thoughtful and strike up interesting conversations. That’s why I would like to present you a with a Liebster Award. Please go to my page to see the details

  9. My husband and I definitely have different parenting styles (I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately, as well). In some ways we sound similar to you and your wife – my husband has a longer ‘cry limit’ than I do. I think, though, that we both listen to determine what sort of cry we’re hearing, just at a different pace. My husband seems more natural engaging in physical play with our daughter – tickling, chasing, etc. I’m looking forward to teaching her to read and write, and introducing her to drawing. I wonder whether our differences are more strongly influenced by gender or by our introvert/extrovert personality pairing (he’s really quite outgoing)

    Thanks for the post – it’s nice to hear another perspective on this topic.

    • I look forward to teaching Thomas to read as well, perhaps not draw though, that isn’t my cup of tea.

      I hadn’t thought whether the nurturing differences were because of our personalities over our gender…

  10. It takes both for sure! I think women tend to be more in tune to the children’s emotions and that makes us tend to RUN when something happens. Men instil independence. Both are needed in my opinion! We only have one dad at the library story time usually!

  11. I think the style is totally different, but like Erin says on issues you need to be pretty much on the same page.

    I am (even without tumbles) a very cuddly, touchy person with all of my kids (actually, with everyone!) My husband tends to play rough as in with tickles or chases or swinging them around. He gives them a more rugged experience. They respond to that very well, it makes them laugh.
    He aslo is less emotional. Every decision he makes is a rational one. He rarely loses his temper, but is very strict. I tend to let my heart rule me and I’m more likely to be impulsive. I would say as a mum I am also pretty strict, but more because I feel I have to be rather than because I always want to be so sometimes I feel somewhat a war with myself.

  12. Like you, I try to wait to see whether the little one is really hurt before I rush in to comfort her. I can usually tell right away whether she’ll need me or not. Most often, she picks herself back up just fine. I’ll admit though — this takes a lot of willpower!
    PS. I really like your blog, so I nominated you for an award! If you want to participate in the fun, you can pick up the image from my blog. No pressure though; I just enjoy reading your posts. :)

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