Mothers and fathers are the
yin and yang of parenting. Similar
and different at the same time and
when combined, they can be a well-rounded whole.
When both parents provide safe,
nurturing care, their different styles
and influences are good for their
In their book Partnership Parenting,
Kyle Pruett and Marsha Kline
Pruett say parenting differences are
strengths, not deficiencies. “Mothers
do not father, and fathers do not
Some men parent like women
and some women parent like
men, says Dr. Robbin Gibb, a
neuroscientist at the University
“Some people think that you’re
saying something is wrong when you
say there are differences between
how moms and dads parent. But
you have to realize the genders have
different brains—and I say ‘vive la
Leslie Barker, a health promotion
facilitator with Alberta Health
Services’ Early Childhood
Development team, says the
differences between moms and dads
are typical, but far from absolute and
are interesting to observe.
Some examples are:
Moms: tend to protectively hold their
baby facing into their chest so their
faces and bodies are close.
Dads: more often have baby’s
back to their chest facing outward
as they take on the world together.
Response to distress
Moms: mostly pick up and soothe.
Dads: most often pick up and
Moms: usually combine play with
the daily care and attention they give
their child. They often lean towards
quieter activities such as reading,
crafts, games and puzzles.
Dads: like more risk-taking and
“rough and tumble” physical play.
Language and communication
Moms and dads: same love,
Parenting styles can be shaped by gender
When both parents provide safe, nurturing care, their different styles and influences are good for their children.