Father Knows Best

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Last week Linda wrote about the virtues of being a Mean Mommy and the complicated mix of discipline and love required to raise children, not friends. The tricky teenage years were a focus and the article inspired some provocative comments. However, nothing was more intriguing than the response by a doting dad.

He read the blog and posted a message on the author’s Facebook wall. He took issue with the blog, and as such, the writer’s parenting style. His response was tempered by the fact that he is an older parent with just one child, a nine-year-old girl, and he stated that he gained much of his parenting experience raising dogs. He advocated his approach as parenting on an individual basis, apparently interpreting the “mean mom” way as “one size fits all.” Admittedly, this mom’s inner-tiger was ready to pounce.

One reader, a local dad, saw the post and imagined sending the following reply, “I think “Sam” is right on. He’s trained dogs, and has a nine-year-old. There can’t be much else to learn.

Dog training is especially useful in understanding kids. Many similarities in behavior. Why just the other day I was admiring a 13-year-old golden retriever, and thinking how much dogs are like kids. The loyalty, devotion and absolute unconditional love that dog displayed is just like most 13-year-old girls demonstrate toward their parents.

Yes, Sam old boy…as a parent of four myself (and having trained three fine dogs) I can assure you that there will be no future surprises for you in your relationship with your daughter. None. You nailed it buddy. Kick back. It just gets easier and easier from here on. Really.”

Don’t you love it? Cleary, father number two shows promise for membership in the “Mean Dad Club.”

While dads may not typically swap parenting tips as readily as moms (note that both comments were not posted on the blog page), we know they struggle with the same issues. They share more parenting duties than the previous generation, so it is no surprise to see the appearance of dad blogs such as Dadcentric, Always Home and Uncool, Stay at Stove Dad and Dude to Dad. We also see evidence of battle fatigue in highly popular satiric children’s books by dads, Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansback and Monsters Eat Whiny Children by Bruce Eric Kapla.

While many moms feel they inherit the position of family CMO (Chief Mean Officer) this is a promising sign that dads and moms can work together as a solid “mean team.” No one enjoys being the sole homework nag, chore tyrant and curfew commander. Sorry Sam, kids just don’t respond to “Sit. Stay. Study.”

Raising human beings is complicated, challenging and sometimes unpleasant. So it’s especially gratifying when dads and moms know they are in this together, trying to do their best.

Carol Lewis Gullstad, February 21, 2012

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  1. While I agree that there are some similarities between raising a dog and raising a kid, the dog peaks out at what amounts to a brain of a 3 year old child. Kids get much smarter and are a lot craftier than dogs.

    As I said in another post, kids are more like wild dogs. They look cute and all until you see them frothing at the mouth hunting you down in your own home.

    In all seriousness though us Dads are doing more and more at home. My house splits everything 50/50. It does make me wonder if kids miss anything with the traditional parent roles, but I don’t really worry about it. My kid is happy, well behaved (for a two year old), and makes me happy every day. I can’t get enough of that little guy.

    • Tony, I loved your line, “Kids get much smarter and are a lot craftier than dogs.” It reminded me of an interaction I had with my teenage daughter a few years ago. I was fed-up with the pig-sty state of her room and was pondering repercussions and loss of privileges to motivate her to be tidier. After one of my clean-up-your-room rants she said, “Would you rather I have a clean room and messy life or a clean life and messy room?” I was stunned into silence and most definitely outsmarted.

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