Dads march to the beat of their own drum. And I love it. However, I didn’t fully understand it at first. Coming home to a chaotic shitstorm as my husband plays with the kids, seemingly unaware of the mess he’s made of the house or the ten different ways this game of indoor tag could go wrong, used to set me off. And he would get an earful. But at some point in our parenting journey I stopped bitching at him to be more like me as a parent and instead started learning from him. Like an episode of National Geographic, I have watched dads from afar in their natural environment. And here’s what I have observed:
- Dads think best case scenario
When a kid asks to try something new, dads seem to be much better at saying yes. Where moms tend to think about what could go wrong, dads think about how things will go right. As a newer parent, my knee-jerk reaction was to say no. Maybe I was in a new environment and wasn’t confident in how a situation would play out. Or maybe I wasn’t sure my kid’s skill level was up to the challenge. I would ask myself, could this end up in tears (from the kid or me!)? But I was asking the wrong question. Dads expect a positive outcome and adjust if things go south. I find myself saying yes much more and my anxiety about what-if scenarios has decreased immensely. I am more at ease and can celebrate the experience instead of worrying about things that haven’t happened.
- Dads go with the flow
Dads don’t plan the day in advance, scroll through Pinterest for kid activities, or check the weather ahead of time. They just make the best of what’s in front of them. They think on their toes and come up with imaginative, kid-led activities. Their first instinct is to pull the mattress off the bed and use it as a wrestling mat. While I may lean towards a more planned out day, I no longer feel the need to have every waking moment filled with an activity. It’s fun to let the kids lead the way and enjoy their unlimited and wild imagination.
- Dads have fashion freedom
It’s a battle to get kids dressed. One child refuses to stop playing, while the other has an opinion about every article of clothing they are putting on for the day. It’s maddening. But when dad is in charge, it just gets simplified. They either stay in their PJs all day, run around half naked, or on occasion I have come home to kids in bib overalls with nothing underneath them. So not only has dad shaved off 30 minutes of his day, he avoided a battle, and the kids are happy. This is definitely one area of dadness I can get on board with.
- Dads see past the shit
I admire a dad’s ability to let shit go. When I ask my husband for a rundown of the day with the kids he almost always says, “It went great.” No complaining, no negativity. And we all know he didn’t get through an entire day without a meltdown or two. But he’s able to focus on the fun parts of the day and dismiss those shitty my-kid-is-an-asshole moments. This area is still a work in progress for me, but hey, baby steps.
- Dads parent guilt-free
I don’t often hear dads second guessing their parenting decisions. They make the best choice in that moment and they roll with it. That doesn’t mean they don’t learn from the mistakes they make. They just don’t stew on them or feel guilty about it. And they certainly don’t give a shit about what other parents might think about the decisions they make. Sure, maybe serving bread, and only bread, for dinner three nights in a row isn’t the best choice, but the kids are fed and a quick meal means more time to spend together. And yes, we can all agree that kids need a good night’s rest. But dads know that kids (and parents) won’t remember the times the kids went to bed on time. But they will remember the time we played flashlight tag in the dark until 10 p.m.
Watching dads parent has made me a better mom. Do I wish they could keep the house from imploding in a matter of minutes? Sure! But I see the strengths they bring to the parenting table and I’ve tried to incorporate more of them in my day-to-day. I say yes more, I can go with the flow with less anxiety, and I can see the happiness in the day instead of fixating on the negative. So the next time you feel overwhelmed, lost, or just need some parent inspiration, embrace your inner dadness and see what happens.