Moms, Dads, and Interchangeable Parenting Roles

When it comes to parenting roles, aren't moms and dads interchangeable? I understand that there are some basic and very important differences between males and females, and I can even see how these sex distinctions might come into play in the parenting process. But it seems to me that one can go too far with this idea. In fact, I think it would be much better for all concerned if we were to teach our children that men and women are equal. To me, this implies that both are equally able to master the entire range of parenting skills. Doesn't that sound like a workable plan?

We don’t think so. The proof is in the pudding, and the validity of the principle we’ve tried to establish has been amply borne out not only in the research of qualified marriage-and-family experts, but even in the experience of people who have tried to disprove it.

There’s a good reason for this. Secular and feminist dogma notwithstanding, the implications of the divinely designed male-female dichotomy run deep in the individual human psyche. They aren’t simply physical, nor are they merely the result of cultural conditioning. Accordingly, when ideologically driven moms and dads try to put their ideas into action, they discover that the issue is a bit more complex than they had suspected. In fact, they find themselves parenting in sex-specific ways in spite of their progressive doctrines.

At the same time, they discover that the inborn male-female distinction is equally strong in their children. For the most part, experiments in gender-neutral or unisex play have been dismal failures. Give a little girl an airplane or a truck to play with, and she’ll probably cuddle it, feed it, and put it down for a nap. Give a little boy a baby stroller, and he’ll likely try to see how fast he can make it go.

The moral of the story should be obvious. “Equal” doesn’t mean “the same,” and “different” doesn’t mean “unequal.” It’s like comparing apples with oranges. A sirloin steak is very different from a chicken salad, but either one can make an equally good meal. We need to learn how to apply this principle to our personal lives, especially in the realm of the fundamental distinctions between men and women. God made us male and female for a reason.

If you think it might be helpful to discuss these ideas at greater length with a member of our staff, don’t hesitate to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department for a free consultation.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity & Femininity

How We Love Our Kids: The Five Love Styles of Parenting

The New Dare to Discipline

Boundaries With Kids

Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World

Practical Tools for Raising Well-Behaved Children

Nurturing a Healthy Gender Identity in Your Child

Effective Child Discipline

Effective Biblical Discipline

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