Rethinking Gender Differences when Parenting our Little Ones
I’ve heard it been said many times before that daughters are daddy’s girls; whereas sons are mommy’s. Then, puberty hits making a mess of it all. There are psychological reasons why this parent-child bond exists, but the truth is there are also other factors that contribute to a healthy parent-child relationship in general (see previous blog: what type of parent will you be).
Nonetheless, there is something to be said to see it play out in my own life. My husband says that our almost-two-year-old (going on 15) is “very kind” to him. With daddy, if she needs a diaper change, no tantrum. If she needs her hair done, no tantrum. If she doesn’t want to eat with me, daddy to the rescue. Little one, mommy could use some kindness too! But, let’s face it, it just melts my heart when I see their relationship. Daddy and his little miniature bestie are a tender sight to see. Truthfully, I have a special relationship with her too, it’s just different.
Now I’m sure if you searched the internet on information on the “gender differences on parenting a child” you will get all sorts of confusing information.” So let me first start there.
A biblical definition of Gender
First, there has been a push for the worldly perspective that there are more than two genders. Biblically speaking, there are two genders (male and female) as described in Genesis: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
So when speaking about gender differences, I’m speaking on how moms and dads (male and female) differ when parenting a child (male or female). Thus, recognizing that moms and dads have different parenting styles due to gender differences.
Here are some fun resources on the topic:
So if gender differences exist, why was my initial thought - what is wrong with me?
I must confess that I did not react in the best way when I started seeing the relational differences in our Lil one between me and my husband. Even though I knew to expect the relational differences, my first thoughts were:
“What’s wrong with me?"
"What am I doing wrong?”
I would also say jokingly, “he is better at this whole parenting thing than I am. They have their understanding.”
These ideas were automatic thoughts that eventually had me second-guessing my contribution to our co-parenting journey and was stealing my joy little by little.
Moms and dads alike, these automatic thoughts happen to us in the small moments of parenting. They are quick and almost thoughtless ideas that we buy into and eventually start believing. Don’t believe the lies these thoughts stir up in our minds and eventually affect how we love, nurture, and interact with our little ones and our spouse.
Professionally, I am an observer of behavior, emotions, and thoughts. Therefore, when I started having these initial doubts, I started observing my interactions with my daughter and my husband’s interactions with her. Wow, what a difference!! We parent so differently, and hence why I’m writing today. No, my approach is not wrong; nor is his better than mine. We just provide different things that are crucial to our little one’s development. We are after all her teachers in her development and thank goodness we focus on different things.
I recommend the following books by Nancy and Robert Wulgemuth (see the links below, respectively), for moms and dads as a way to work through the automatic thoughts we tend to play in our mind; which ultimately affects how we parent, among other things.
No, my approach is not wrong; nor is his better than mine. We just provide different things that are crucial to our little one’s development. We are after all her teachers in her development and thank goodness we focus on different things.
Here are some resources on the topic:
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Renewing our minds and anchoring our heart in the word of God
Lastly, I encourage you to dive into the word of God daily. God’s wisdom is perfect. He gave us the ability to think, reason, and even renew our minds.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Therefore, when automatic thoughts arise, remember that our thinking patterns do not trump who God says you are. Allow God’s word to transform those negative automatic thoughts into anchors of truth that will provide wisdom and harmony in the parenting journey.
I can’t say this enough - We were not meant to parent/co-parent alone. Invite God to be at the center of it all! Allow Him to renew your minds, anchor your hearts with His truth, and then pour into your child. This is an untrendy way of parenting and living life in general; however, the rewards are eternal.
Disclaimer: The content shared in this page is intended as general advice only, and not to replace clinical counseling, medical treatment, legal counsel, or pastoral guidance.