Dads Parent Differently And That’s Ok.

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“No, you’re doing it all wrong! Just give the baby back to me!”

It rarely takes a new dad long to hear these words, and sadly, some of us don’t push back. Instead, after repeated put-downs, we retreat to the sidelines, believing mum is the parenting expert who always knows best. The reality is, it’s to the benefit of everyone (mum, dad and baby) if dads see themselves as equal partners in the raising of their child rather than the ‘substitute teachers’. It’s probably a lot easier for someone like me, a dad who is heavily involved in raising his children, to say that but lots of parenting experts including the female ones agree.

Dads parent differently and that’s ok!

Rough and tumble vs safety concerns

Being out and about I often see both mum and dad trying to parent the best they can and it strikes me how differently men and women do the same thing. For example, when I see parents swing their child, generally speaking, the mums will do it slowly and gently while the dads will swing them much higher and faster. Chances are you’re the parent who hurls your baby up in the air and chances are your partner freaks out when you do.  They’re not being irrational when she’s freaking out over this stuff. She is simply playing her own role and trying to protect baby from injury.

However, you are playing a valid parenting role too. All that rough and tumble is teaching your kids self-control.

Exploration vs nesting

Next time you’re looking out and about, check out how men and women hold their babies differently.  As you can probably guess by this stage, both approaches are worthwhile.

Fathers, uncles and grandfathers will hold the baby so that it’s looking out in the same direction they are. In contrast, mothers, aunts and grandmothers will be holding the baby facing them to make eye contact.

It’s a This is the world, you should take an interest in exploring it vs You’re safe in this closed circle of the family.

Discipline vs nurturing

It may be the mum who is engaging in what’s traditionally regarded as a ‘masculine style’ of parenting. Alternatively, the dad may be parenting in what’s commonly seen as a mum-like manner.

This is nowhere more apparent when it comes to the strict vs indulgent parenting style

If you think back to your childhood, you’ll probably recall there was one parent who was given to laying down the law.  Up until recently, the father was expected to be the disciplinarian and the mother the nurturer.

Like all those parenting books you never got around to reading say, children, need both love and discipline to thrive.

Embrace parenting diversity

It’s amazing how people will talk to their partners in a critical, shaming manner that they would never think of using with anyone else. Both men and women would benefit if, when they did need to raise an issue around parenting, they did so in a nicer way rather than declare, ‘You’re doing it the wrong way.’ I try not to get into partner bashing when one person is having a moan about the other. I am trying to simply reply your partner isn’t doing something wrong, they are just doing it differently.  Sometimes it’s easy to get worked up about a comment your partner has made that seems to question your skills or commitment as a father. Believe me, I know, I’ve been there.

My only advice I would give you just consider your partner’s mindset.


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  1. Nick Holland

    I really enjoyed these comparisons, it was nice that you presented them as equal as well. Almost like they need each other to maintain a healthy balance

  2. Addy Brown

    I agree with everything except for the rough play. Maybe that would be ok once little ones learn empathy and speech, but at the moment I can see a direct link with my toddler between rough-housing with Dad and hitting/pushing other kids/babies at playgroup.

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