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Bringing daddy style to parenting

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Dads are definitely a different breed than moms. When my first daughter was born, I spent a lot of time trying to reshape my husband into the same type of parent as I am. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t just do naptime, playtime and dinner time exactly like I did because obviously my way was the right way. I read all the books, so clearly I knew what I was talking about, right?

Eight years later, I’m so glad he didn’t morph into Mommy No. 2. He brings his own special daddy-ness to parenting, and I realize more each day how valuable that is to our girls. I may provide other things that come naturally to me, such as planned family outings and boo-boo kissing, but he provides the risks and the spontaneity to round out our parenting team.

So as we celebrated Father’s Day this weekend, I thought about some of the special daddy traits my husband brings to my family:

1. He encourages curiosity. He answers our daughters’ questions with more questions, forcing them to think deeper. He never gives the easy response or the one designed to squelch more questions. He indulges their wonder and feeds it with even more possibilities.

2. He plays rough. He lets them get paint all over the floor when they watercolor together (and then supervises cleanup!), and he sets up soccer matches in the family room. He rolls on the ground with them when he gets home and pushes them way too hard on the backyard rope swing. Of course, I wouldn’t be the mother I am without also standing there saying, “Too high! Too high!” But thankfully, he ignores me and lets them fly.

3. He plays like a kid. Dads have a unique ability to just let go and transform back into a kid again during playtime. He legitimately gets excited about how high the block tower is, and he has even been known to lose track of time at the Whac-A-Mole machine at Chuck E. Cheese’s because he was determined to beat the high score. Without kids, these behaviors are borderline creepy. With kids, he’s the most awesome dad around.

4. He doesn’t consider being with the kids as baby-sitting. I remember how irked I was when when I first heard a father use this term for taking care of his own children. Dads shouldn’t baby-sit their kids; they should raise them. I’m fortunate to have a husband that considers his job as a dad his most important one in life. It’s not something he does on the side or when Mom has to work. Everything he does is for and about our family and our children. He’s not the baby sitter when he’s with them; he’s the dad who is putting in his most important hours of his day.

Perhaps the quality I value most in my husband is that he doesn’t see a line between my responsibilities and his. If I have a work deadline, he makes dinner and does the dishes without me asking. He bathes the kids every night and calls me up for prayers when it’s time.

He sees himself as half of our parenting team, not as a pinch hitter. And I’m glad he’s on my team because he fills in the gaps where I fall short and balances our family with his irreplaceable daddy style.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her 8-year-old and 4-year-old daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her.