Dads Are Different

Illustration of Dad and son on a tightrope

Dads are different from moms, and not just because dads watch more sports and leave the toilet seat up. They're different because they're men, and this difference is good in many unexpected ways — particularly when it comes to parenting. Men don't just parent their children. They father them, and doing so can often create lively disagreements with Mom. But both moms and dads must understand and appreciate that these differences are beneficial for their children.

Calculated risks

One difference of fathering is that dads tend to be more dangerous, at least according to moms, who tend to be more protective. Mom's way is best, right? It's not that simple. They are both right and essential. Here's one example:

When a child grows and starts climbing things (monkey bars, trees, boulders), Mom's automatic words are, "Be careful." Dad, on the other hand, is saying, "I bet you can go to that next limb. Give it a try. I'll be right here." Mom's way promotes safety, obviously important. But Dad's way promotes confidence and the ability to judge and take calculated risks. The balance between Mom's and Dad's ways creates healthy, well-balanced kids.

Relational confidence 

Dads are different in other ways, too. A daughter's sense of sexual safety is affected by how her dad treats her. Dads have a great deal to do with a child's relational confidence and health. Girls who get plenty of safe and proper physical interaction from Dad are usually not girls who fall for the improper physical advances of boys later in life. And when a boy sees Dad treat his sisters and mother respectfully, he learns to do the same.

There are many important differences between mothering and fathering that benefit a child's healthy development and maturity. When Mom and Dad embrace these differences, it not only does much for their children, but also for their marriage and the peacefulness of the family's everyday life.

This article first appeared in the February/March 2015 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.


Copyright © 2015 by Focus on the Family.

Next in this Series: What Dads Do

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