Dads: They’re not trying to be perfect Moms
Last week I was doing some research on father’s engagement with their babies and ran across a short report with a blazing headline: “I’M NOT A SUBSEGMENT!” Published by Yahoo Advertising Solutions, the report gave some interesting statistics about the central role many dads have in the everyday duties of housekeeping and child care. From 39% to 60% of 1000 dads surveyed reported that they are primarily responsible for doing the laundry, buying groceries, making purchasing decisions, AND cooking and cleaning (that was the 39%)!
“NO WAY!” you say. I can almost hear the snorts about the claims made in this study. But in a recent Wall Street Journal column, Sue Shellenbarger pointed out that not only are there more stay-at-home dads, and more actively engaged dads, but that dads just do things differently and have different standards of performance for many household and child-rearing responsibilities. Dads tend to incorporate technology more in their parenting and task management. And they approach their child care duties differently with an emphasis on hanging out, outdoor play, and less attention to the finer points of child development. For example, less attention might be attached to keeping baby clean, dressed in clothes that match, or precisely following the clock with baby’s daily routine.
We Moms tend to have an all-encompassing, more nuanced and thorough approach to child-rearing. Being competent with the “work” of motherhood is intertwined with proving our love. Dads don’t blend the two. They take the love part for granted and just charge ahead with what needs to be done. Here’s a list of 5 differences that often cause frustration for mom who in turn, sends negative messages to dad about his engagement with baby.
- Men’s approach to multi-tasking is to do less, and not try to do it all.
- Men don’t fret over the same details as mom. In fact, they worry less, period.
- Men are slower to come around to doing an equal share of cleaning and cooking, even for the kids (see 1 above).
- Men take a routine you find challenging and make quick work of it. The baby that won’t eat dinner for you will chow down with Dad.
- Men coddle less and engage in more challenging play with their children. Moms might interpret this as risk-taking or creating failure experiences for baby.
Can these differences with mom approach be reconciled? Will dads get with the cleaning and cooking while mom let’s go of her desire for perfect alignment of baby’s every experience? Truth be told, maybe we moms should work on a few win-win strategies and let our babies benefit from their different experience with Dad. After all, rather than complaining about what he didn’t do we could focus on the good that he is doing, emboldening him to take on some of your suggestions. I think we would find that your life will move to an improved, less frenetic state. And that’s a win for everyone.