It is important for us to start by clarifying that just as no two individuals are ever exactly alike, no two sets of parents are ever exactly the same either. What is written below is meant to be a generalization of a father’s parenting style compared to a mothers parenting style. It is not meant to describe every unique situation. Every parenting situation is made up of unique and unrepeatable individuals, therefore fathers and mothers will play different roles within different families.
With that being said, generally speaking, fathers and mothers take different approaches to parenting. Obviously, kids do best with both their mother and their father, but there are some roles that fathers will inherently excel at, and others that mothers will inherently excel at.
To start, moms and dads show their love for their children differently. Dad tends to have less empathy than mom, which might sound like a bad thing, but it means that he is more likely to express a healthy dose of “tough love”. Having boundaries and rules is important as a parent. Even though kids complain and whine in the moments that they are being reprimanded, kids thrive on boundaries and predictability.
Dads’ style of play is also typically very different from moms’. Perhaps because of their confidence in their physical strength, dads’ are more inclined to take risks and roughhouse when it comes to play. He does things like play-wrestle, give shoulder rides, and toss his children high into the air. For children, there is nothing more exhilarating than playing with Dad. This style of play is important because it teaches children to take risks, when they are confident that it is safe. Taking risk is an important skill for children to learn, because they will find that risk is a part of everyday life when they grow up.
Not only do father’s play differently, but they address their children’s problems differently than mothers do. Women want to analyze and understand; men seek to solve. Dad wants to do something. They are less interested in talking about the problem than in actually doing something about it. Fathers immediately reach for a solution, while mothers yearn to understand and empathize. This teaches children the importance of “getting over it”, how to shake it off, and pick up where you left off.
None of this is meant to take away from virtuous motherhood. By and large, mothers are better at multitasking, are in better touch with their emotions, and have better listening skills. It is important to not always reach for the solution immediately and seek to understand at times. Mothers bring balance to a fathers’ parenting style. Thank God for good mothers. There is nothing more beautiful than a strong woman.
But one thing that even a strong woman cannot do is show your son what it means to be a man. She can show your son how a man ought to treat a woman, but she cannot show him how to be a man. Society would like us to think otherwise. The culture tells us “women can do anything that a man can do.”
Wrong. Most mothers cannot teach their sons things like how to fix a leaking faucet, how to tie a fishing hook, or how to play catch (again, we are speaking generally here!). And although it is true that some mothers might be able to teach their sons some of these things, no mother can teach her son the more consequential things about being a man, like how men should relate to other men in healthy ways, how a man should lead his family, and how to be confident in his masculine identity. This is why the role of a father or father figure is so vital.
Do you have a son or grandson about to turn thirteen? Are you looking to do something memorable for this birthday, to mark his entrance into manhood in a special way? Check out our new book Milestone to Manhood on Amazon here.