Minor Differences: Father’s Parenting Versus Mother’s Parenting

Have you read The Oatmeal comic’s Minor Differences series? Not only will you be nodding your head vigorously when reading it, you’ll be spitting all over your screen while you crack up. Go ahead, click the link … I’ll wait …

You’re wiping your screen, right?

In “line of work” I experience minor difference along gender lines – specifically fatherly parenting versus motherly parenting. There is of course the way we do things (such as my husband’s arms lasting longer than mine when zooming 40-lb Squish around as a “flying airplane”) and what we prioritize. And we have our roles and chores we split up according to our skills. Perhaps Squish said it most succinctly:

“You do a lot of good work around the house, dad. But you don’t know how to put up girl’s long hair. Mom can, though.”

I mean, he’s tried to do a ponytail once. He can sort of brush the hair and tighten ponytails. But something like french braiding? Leave that to me, dad!

Let’s start with how we dress our kids. I admit we have an eclectic mix of hand-me-downs, gifts from the grandmas, and random (read: unmatched) new pieces I buy. All are beautiful on their own, but I do have to work really hard to coordinate outfits, especially because I don’t have the pattern matching skills of Mondo Guerra. So I guess I can’t be too hard on my husband when he puts our kids in these outfits…

Mismatched toddler outfits

Grey/hot pink shirt with neon green polka-dot pants … black pants and blue shirt – what?!

… but I would never let the leave the house in those combos! Because whenever I do, inevitably someone says to me, “Oh, I see some little girl is choosing her own clothes now!” And all I can do is lie and agree with them … and vow to do better next time, no matter how much I tell myself I don’t care what other people think.

I always get a good laugh when I consider how and how often we visit the bathroom when parenting solo. Like almost all moms, I pee and poop with the door open – my kids are free to enter and exit the bathroom while I do my job. I can hear them better, and hey, I’d rather them come in and ask awkward questions about mommy’s lady parts than be digging into a potted plant in the next room.

But if I’m out of the house, I guarantee the first thing my husband says when I enter the door is, “I need to use the bathroom.” He holds it while I’m gone! He must be afraid of what the girls will do when he closes the door behind him (and we all know men spend about 75% longer than women on the toilet each day, so that longer time is risky) … and of course he can’t go with the door open!

What about mealtimes? I’m a planner; my husband isn’t. Our dinners are planned for the week, so if broccoli is on the list (which is stuck to the fridge) for dinner that night, I won’t give the girls broccoli at lunch. However … my husband might. Basically, when I fix my girls breakfast, I’m already thinking about what I’ll serve at lunch so I don’t repeat items or give them too much from one food group, and at lunch I’m already thinking of what they’ll have for afternoon snack.

Maybe I just always have food on my mind?! My husband obviously does not.

That whole “only women can multitask” adage is kind of totally true. I know I’m continually leveling up in this parenthood game due to being home with my girls every day, but still – I can do a lot of things at once! It’s not unusual for a mom to prep dinner vegetables, answer endless “Why?” questions from a toddler, have a running conversation with her husband, and also go through her mental checklist for the day’s task – and maybe also think about what activities are planned for the next day.

That multi-tasking skill is kind of just part of being a mother, I think. “Invention” born of necessity?

But oh, man … start a conversation with my husband while he’s trimming green beans, and I might as well push dinner back ten minutes. I mean, my husband is a super smart engineer and talented in more ways than I am, but I’m convinced the male brain is simply missing a neural path that tells the brain, “hey, you can move your hands and your lips at the same time, lookee that!”

Look, I’m not knocking men in any way; I merely get a big kick out of observing dads versus moms. We sure do our job differently, don’t we?!

How do you all see the two genders’ parenting tendencies? Have anything to add to this list?


11 thoughts on “Minor Differences: Father’s Parenting Versus Mother’s Parenting

  1. OMGoodness! I did laugh a ton at this one~men can only do one thing at a time, have one conversation and think about only one thing also. It used to drive my dear husband crazy, like I wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying while, again, as you, making dinner and answering those constant questions from the little ones! At least your husband watches the children…mine almost always forgot to do that after a few minutes and start doing something or other outdoors. Only to find my little toddler on the second story roof, up a long ladder, while he was totally unaware of anything amiss…OMG! Need I say I fired him that day? Seriously, had babysitters there when he was there too, otherwise I was afraid he’d take off and forget them too. Oh, I could tell you stories!!! But not here…Like say, toddler cutting the hair of the little one???

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Month in Review: August | All In A Dad's Work

    • Okay, really strange – but I was thinking yesterday that I haven’t stopped by your blog in awhile … and also that I wonder when your Month in Review post is coming! 😀 I was actually wondering how your month of less posts panned out for viewership. (I’m weird … I like data.)


  3. LOL, my husband absolutely cannot multitask. There is no way he could make dinner and have it all done at the same time. Me, on the other hand, I’m making dinner in multiple pans, chopping things, and entertaining Noah (read: stepping over the pans he scatters on the floor) and I’m still able to help my husband bring things in from the car when he gets home. Because heaven forbid he makes two trips into the house.
    Also, when Noah was 3 or 4 months old, I left him at home with my husband for several hours. I came home and every single thing he was wearing was non-matching stripes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are a pro mom! I think the true test of a mom’s skills is at dinnertime! There is a lot to do and children seem to be at their most rambunctious (overtired?? hungry?) at this time.

      Hahaha! My husband would’ve countered, “But stripes match stripes, right?” 😀


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