, Gloucester, MA


October 18, 2013

Personal Matters: The parenting differences between us

He: (wearily), “Joseph just doesn’t want to go to bed. Every night is a battle!”

He: “That’s because you let him make it a battle. You need to be firmer with him. Or let me take over the bedtime routine.”

She: “I’m wondering if he’s acting out because I’ve gone back to work. Maybe he just wants more time with me at the end of the day.”

He: “Maybe he just doesn’t want to go to bed!”

The enormous demands of parenting children often reveal in high relief the differences in the way that men and women think and communicate. As parents, men tend to focus on behavior. They often see their children’s behavior as either acceptable or unacceptable, and respond accordingly.

Since most men try to solve problems by taking action, they want to “do something” if their children’s behavior is unacceptable. They want to communicate their disapproval and take a strong stand. They sincerely believe that such action-taking is strong, positive parenting that will ultimately help their children adjust to the realities of life.

And of course, depending on the child and the situation at hand, certain active approaches may often be required. Sometimes rewarding good behavior with an action is exactly what is needed. With a young child, the father might suggest five minutes of playing Monopoly and then “it’s bedtime.”

Women often approach parenting differently. They tend to focus on the underlying causes of their children’s behavior. They do not see behavior as something that exists on its own but rather as a mode of expression, an outgrowth of their children’s personalities. For them, behavior is not necessarily simply acceptable or unacceptable, but also a signal of an emotional state their children are experiencing – possibly anger, boredom, fear, anxiety, etc.

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