Today we spent Father’s Day at the beach while visiting my parents in Florida. It was a great day and my husband did what he does best: he did the things the kids love to do that I just can’t because I’m too nervous. He takes them out into the water and jumps and floats and and lets the waves lift him and the kids off their feet for a second or two, or body surfs with them onto the sand. I, on the other hand, can barely watch because I can’t stop worrying that they’ll be sucked out to sea by a rip tide or rogue current. I am glad the kids have their dad to do those things with because he keeps them safe and they are definitely thrill seekers like he is. Their screams of glee and laughter tell me they are more excited than scared. While Burton, Kate and Cooper got their adrenaline rush, I walked on the beach with Lauren, our oldest and hunted for shells and interesting sea creatures.
My husband is also the one who has been teaching the girls to ski and he’ll be taking Cooper this year too. This is another task he’s taken on because to him, it isn’t a work at all. To him, it’s the best part of being a father and he’s been looking forward to teaching our kids to ski since they were born. For me, teaching the kids to ski would be a chore. It’s not that I don’t want them to ski but because I still have so many things to catch up on on the weekends that I’d prefer a few less kids in the house on a wintery Sunday than fifteen trips down a bunny slope at a ski mountain an hour away.
He has also taught the girls how to play chess, how to shoot a bow and arrow (with a beginner’s archery set) how to fish, how to do backflips on the trampoline and how to climb our rope swing in the backyard. I’ve been known to joke that husbands are more like having one more child to take care of but there is some truth there. Many dads seem to be great at re-living their childhoods when they have children and letting go and just having fun. It’s something I need to work on myself instead of constantly worrying about that load of laundry that needs to go in the dryer or what I’m going to scrape up for the next meal.
Now that our children are past the infant and toddler stages that often significantly limit the social lives and leisure time activities previously enjoyed by both new moms and new dads, my husband is able to really enjoy doing things with our children and it’s brought out the best in him.
He’s not the most patient person in the world, he can’t stand the whining (who can?) or the kids climbing the walls bored at home while we try to get household chores finished. But those are my strengths. I don’t always enjoy being the multi-tasking boo-boo kisser and fight mediator…but I am good at it. I’m patient, I’m forgiving, I’m firm but kind and I frequently use humor to ease tension. If one of the kids is in a funk or feeling emotionally fragile, they come to me. But for an adrenaline rush, for exercise, for tickle fights and anything outdoorsy and active, Daddy is the man. We don’t always agree but our parenting styles and strengths compliment each other and I think our kids are turning out ok.
What does Daddy do best in your family? Do you have different parenting styles?