While putting together the November fatherhood column for Susquehanna Style magazine, I asked followers on social media accounts for some advice.
I wanted to know what us Dads could learn from Moms about parenting. Presumably — and that is a dangerous word — Moms and Dads approach parenting uniquely.
Honestly, though, what I’ve discovered is in today’s world of parenting, it seems the differences between how Moms and Dads parent have less to do with our genders. It has more to do with who we are as people and our unique journeys to our present day lives.
Nonetheless, many a mother out there provided her take on what Dads could learn from Moms, and I wanted to share what they said here with you:
amy johnson crow (Twitter: amyjohnsoncrow)
Amy is a genealogy/family history expert, one of my favorite go-to resources for piecing together the past. Here’s her take:
Sometimes it isn’t about fixing a problem; it’s about listening to what the problem is. Kids aren’t always looking to you to solve it. Be willing to “just” listen.
Gayle Vickery Pritchard (Creative Life Blogger)
Gayle is someone I met at a conference for nonfiction writers, and she touches on something I heard a lot about. Mom’s have routines and schedules at the forefront of their minds:
It’s important to anticipate the needs of your children, and your partner, for that matter. Moms have the entire month in their heads: every school report deadline, doctor’s appointment, soccer game, etc. Dads, tune in, pay attention, and figure out how you can truly be helpful and supportive by knowing what’s on for the day, and figuring out without being asked what you can do to be present and helpful.
Linda Espenshade (LOCAL LANCASTER, PA STORYTELLER)
Linda and I were colleagues at the same newspaper, and she presented this piece of advice. We as the parents can teach emotional intelligence by being, ahem, emotionally intelligent ourselves:
Children are little humans, who deserve the same respect at 2 years old as they will at 32. You talk to them like humans, you respect their needs, you consider their motivations, you hear their fears and you share your thoughts and feelings too. And you can say you are sorry. Modeling respect goes so much further in the long-run for their healthy development and future relationships than using fear and punishment to manage behavior. Anger and punishment tend to come out when we are are afraid — when we don’t know what to do — when we feel disrespected. It’s our job to model emotional control, respect and self discipline even if physical punishment or yelling get the job done in the short run.
tricia theis (Instagram: Tatr)
Tricia is a writer based out of Baltimore, and on my Instagram feed, she shared this about dialoguing with your partner.
My husband is a world class parent. He’s got a better temperament for it than I do. It’s a little hard for me to answer this without feeling like a fraud. So, really, my advice is for anyone who parents. Communicate with your partner, coparent, or child respectfully and openly; forgive one another; recognize how we each might feel lacking at the whole gig; ask for help when you need, it and offer it before the other person has to ask. And please, don’t speak to your child as lesser-than. They can understand and do more than they’re often given credit for.
I told her this take put on full display her own world class status as a parent. Truly.
Indelible grace (INSTAGRAM: Indelible Grace)
I’ll confess that I’m not real sure who’s behind the Instagram account called Indelible Grace, but here’s this person’s important take, especially if children are raised in two different houses:
I am not with my children’s father so, maybe the best piece of advice is your children are not your ex. Don’t bring up your issues with your ex ~ or take them out on… your children. Separate yourself from that while trying to co-parent.
lisa tully (TWITTER: BYLISATULLY)
Lisa, a Washington, D.C.-based writer, is someone I’ve been following on Twitter for a few years, and I had the great privilege to meet her at last year’s HippoCamp conference for nonfiction writers. She tweeted this perspective:
TWEET NO. 1: Sometimes just play whatever they want to play, however lame it sounds. It’s a window to their mind’s inner workings. I logged hours playing w/Little Mermaid characters on a pirate ship, or watching their video games, or listening to comic book plots
The column, which features quotes from an interview I did with my wife, Alison, will appear in the November issue of Susquehanna Style. She had a chance to take verbal scissors to my paper-thin confidence as a Dad, and to her credit, just snipped a few corners here and there.
What are your thoughts? What advice do you Moms have for us Dads on how we can be better parents? Leave a comment because we Dads, while we may not say it, could really use your help on this.
Dave Pidgeon is a writer (and father) based in Lancaster, Pa. CAUSING DAD’MAGE is a regular feature on Writing in the Afternoon about the misadventures and the heart-filling experience of being a father. You can reach him at email@example.com.