It’s no secret that in recent decades there’s been a shift in traditional parenting and household roles. More moms are working outside the home now than ever before, and dads are being asked to complete what has traditionally been known as “women’s work.” A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, At-Home Dads Make Parenting More of a 'Guy' Thing, written by Rebecca Greenfield, discusses this very shift. The article focuses in on stay-at-home dads and how they are parenting differently in comparison to stay-at-home moms. Greenfield quotes research stating stay-at-home dads aren’t concerned about being viewed as “perfect” housewives. Instead, they are more likely to put household tasks on the back burner and have adventures with the kids. Greenfield’s sources also state dads take more of a back-seat approach to parenting their kiddos in comparison to moms, which allows kids to take more risks while playing and solve problems without parental support.
This leads me to ask readers, who stays at home better, moms or dads? From a psychologist’s perspective, I say it doesn’t matter. Children can benefit from a stay-at-home dad, a stay-at-home mom, or parents who both work outside the home. What does matter is your involvement as a parent and communication with your spouse. As long as parents agree on who does what, who is actually doing the what is less important. Children learn by example, and as parents, you want to model supportive and effective communication and save the major disagreements for behind closed doors.
In At-Home Dads Make Parenting More of a 'Guy' Thing, Greenfield quotes Dr. Kyle Pruett, a child-development researcher and clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Pruett states Dads' back-seat approach to parenting may instill problem-solving ability in children, while the more hands-on style common in mothers tends to promote feelings of security and optimism. So who does it better, moms or dads? In my opinion, both are good and neither is better. Besides, who’s to say moms don’t let their kids climb trees and jump off jungle gyms? And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a few “hands-on” dads in my years of work. Bottom line, be there for your kids and take on a team-parenting approach with your spouse.
Dr. Luisa Bryce
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