Male And Female Parenting Styles, Mom, Dad and Two Girls
Mom And Dad
It is a staple of pop psychology that moms do better with sons and dads with their daughters. This can't be true all the time, but from my observations and personal experience, it generally is.
I'm lazy. Always have been. Not on the job. When my boss tells me to get something done, I do it, and try my darndest to do it right, right now. I am lazy at home, getting things done that need to be done. Got the windows caulked before winter? Well... Right now I am sitting here writing this article when I can think of three things right off hand that I should be doing instead.
My wife is much better about this. She has an occasional lazy moment, and a few jobs she puts off doing until I up and do them for her. But, in the main, she gets her chores around the house done, done on time, and done right.
So, I expect my girls to be lazy like me, and she expects them to be diligent. The kids are great about doing homework, far better than I ever was, but when it comes to housework, chores, they are more like me. Guess which parent has an easy time getting the girls to do their chores and which parent doesn't.
Our parenting styles couldn't be more different in this aspect. Seeing the girls slouched around the house reading, or playing on the internet, my first impulse is to ask what book it is and if it is any good. Hers is to look around and see all the jobs left undone for the last week.
So conversations with mom about chores often end up in shouting matches, and conversations with dad are friendly. We have gotten to the point that mom often delegates to me the task of getting girl 'X' to do job 'Y'. I go to the bedroom door, tap gently on it, and open it after given permission. I chivy the girls into getting the job done.
If it is a job that takes a long time, like cleaning the bedroom, the girls are almost guaranteed to get distracted and start reading or listening to music or talking on the phone. A job that should take fifteen minutes ends up taking all afternoon, if it gets finished at all, driving mom to absolute conniptions. When mom is unhappy, the whole house is unhappy.
I pop in every little while, maybe confiscate the book, or just put it away. I may sit on the bed talking or reading, every now and then making pointed comments to keep movement forward.
Humor, sarcasm, pitching in to help a little. The kids want a parent there. Any job done together, even if I am not really helping much, gets done a lot faster than if I just tell them to get it done.
Moms expect commands to be obeyed. Dads play games and expect to have fun.
Part of the problem with moms and daughters seems to be conversational style. Mom will say, "Is your lunch for tomorrow made yet?" A command, phrased as a question. Translated, that means, "Make your lunch right now."
Dad will say, "Make your lunch. Right now."
Now, it sounds from the above that I have just contradicted myself. I said that moms give commands and dads don't, but mom asked a question and dad gave a direct command. Well, it's all in the tone of voice, and the intention of the speaker. Mom expects the kids to immediately rush over and frantically begin making sandwiches, even though her actual statement is worded as if there were options. There are no options. Dad expects to have to follow up with a gentle push towards the kitchen, a suggestion to open the fridge, perhaps a discussion of what is available.
Commands phrased as questions don't work with daughters. Commands phrased as (friendly but firm) commands, followed up with action, do.
After the mom's question/commands have failed to gain the desired result, comes the next stage, angry commands, still often phrased as questions. "Why haven't you made your bed?" "When are you going to..." At this point dad intervenes and begins forward movement. "Go to the kitchen. Open the fridge. Take out the cheese and ham." Simple, direct commands in a quite voice. Results.
Now, the funny thing is, when I see dads interacting with their sons, the situation is reversed. Dad is still giving straightforward commands, but is getting louder and louder, and it is obvious that son is feeling bullied. When mom says, "Honey, can you do me a favor...?" son responds and gets the job done.
The above is an obvious and gross over-simplification. Plenty of moms bully sons and plenty of dads know how to communicate with sons without yelling. But it holds true as a generalization. Moms communicate better with sons, and dads communicate better with daughters.
Sons want to be asked. They want respect from their parents. Daughters want to respect their parents.
And that is my pop-psychology lesson for today! Ladies, try telling your daughters DIRECTLY what you want done, clearly, in a friendly but firm voice. Dads, ask your sons to help you out, as if they were doing you a favor.
If you have fallen into the trap of fighting with your kids, they will be in that habit too. It may take them a while to get used to a new way of communicating, so don't expect instant results. Give it a few days, don't get mad if your kids don't instantly do what you want. My girls don't always do what I want either, but they generally do, and I don't get stressed out much when they don't. Sometimes they are just tired after a hard day at school. Ain't worth fighting over.
Anger is a useful tool, but useful tools get worn out if overused. When I was a teacher I would occasionally allow myself to become angry, visibly angry at a class or a student. But that was my choice. I chose a moment when anger would work to accomplish a goal. Students don't respect a teacher who is a pushover, but they don't respect one who is always and forever angry either.
Same with kids and parents. If you need to get angry in order to make the point that THIS TIME it is vitally important, fine, get angry. If the kids just think, "Oh well, dad's mad again," your anger is wasted wind. If, someday, my daughter drives home from a party, drunk, I'll get raging angry. She'll be shocked. She isn't used to seeing dad mad.
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