Daddy Duty -- Not Mean, Just Different

Flickr photo by ellie
The night before I was heading out of town for my last Mominatrix book tour event, my oldest daughter started crying.

"Please don't leave, Mommy. Daddy is so mean when you're gone."

Now I'd be lying if I didn't get a mild chuckle out of that, because I'm pretty sure I'll be in the doghouse soon enough, heck, probably for her entire teen years. So, why not enjoy it while I can?

But also, I'm pretty sure that if anyone was to get the "mean" award around the house, it would most definitely be me.


I've seen my husband interact with the children for the last six years, and I've rarely ever seen him be what I'd consider mean. Granted, he's definitely obsessed with cleaning, which could be interpreted by young children who enjoy playing in dirt, mud, and other very unclean substances as mean.

I'm the one who rigged the baby pool to the bottom of our backyard playground creating a pretty darn fun water slide.

And I, on many occasions, will fill up our master jacuzzi tub and let the kids have their bath "in the big tub" as opposed to squeezing them into the extremely boring and quite cramped regular tub.

But as far as punishments go or, let's face it, yelling -- I'm by far the worst of the two of us.

So to say that Daddy is "mean" is a misnomer.

However, he does parent differently than me. And since the kids are around me most of the time, that can be a big challenge for them.

It's frustrating when I see my husband, who's had days away from the chaos of our daily routine, become impatient with the kids. I mean, he's the one who has technically had a break from the meal-cooking, butt-wiping, and tantrum-dealing, so he should be embracing it with open arms. Or at least, with a patient heart.

"You're the one who's supposed to be nice right now!" I tell him after he's snapped at the kids for something that doesn't even bother me anymore.

The last thing the kids need is two snappy parents. The whole idea of this co-parenting deal was that we'd be able to pick up the slack for each other, especially when one of us is at a breaking point and about to say or do something that we might regret later.

But aside from his lack of patience, the truth is that my husband isn't mean. Nor is he a lackluster parent. He just goes about things a different way, which is pretty hard to swallow when you're used to being the only parent in the house. It's incredibly difficult not to criticize, or give "helpful" pointers, as I like to call them.

He'd probably describe them in another way.

However, I do my best to remind the kids that Daddy has a different way of doing things. And that he's most certainly not mean. Just different.

And for all intents and purposes, that's a very good thing.

Read more of Kristen's column, The Sometimes Single Mom

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