Don’t Be The Fun Parent

8 Apr

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Do not be the fun parent. Just don’t.

Of course, the knee-jerk reaction to this is to say, “What?! Am I supposed to be like those dads that make their children refer to them as ‘Father’ when they’re not using ‘Sir’? Do I have to make them line up and follow drills like  they were in the military? What do I need to be saying instead of ‘soldier’? How do I get matching uniforms that will cover both age range and spectrum? Do I have to make them eat MRE’s? What about space ice cream? Or is that considered ‘fun'”.

To which the response is: Oh wow. You’ve either thought this thing through, or your mind runs a mile a minute and I’ve just aimed it off-course and let it go. But the point of this message isn’t the “fun”. It’s “the”.

My wife is a stay-at-home mom (some blogs call them SAHM….and I guess now this one does too). My kids are homeschooled. This means my wife spends a lot of time with the kids. Me? I walk to the bus stop, go to work, take a lunch break at my desk, work more, and then hop on a bus to head home. I do this 5 days a week. So when the weekend comes, my kids want to spend time with me and I want to spend time with them.

Now, a natural desire would be to make the weekend the most funnest thing in the whole wide world. When dealing with little kids, things can be “funnest”, so don’t criticize my grammar. We could go to McDonald’s, I could take them to the movies, we’d munch on popcorn, and maybe grab some ice cream afterwards. Maybe if it was a special weekend, we’d go to the amusement park.  But honestly, this isn’t a sustainable model.  I don’t know about you, but our entertainment budget would be shot pretty quickly. But if we did this, would the kids look forward to spending time with their dad? Or would they look forward to being taken somewhere special? I think we all desire the first one, but would admit that it’d be the second one.

But the other thing you’re doing is that you’re setting the bar so ridiculously high that mommy is going to be thought of as “boring”. She’s already the one that’s probably doing the most discipline (since she’s with them more of the time). Mommy deserves to be “a” fun parent just like you deserve to be “a” fun parent. I’ve been interrupted writing this post by my daughters.  My wife told them to start playing in the sun room (it’s been hibernating for a while). My younger daughter remarked, “Oh, I wish we could have the trampoline up here.” When I responded that we could, they were delighted. I left, grab the mini-trampoline from the basement and brought it up. My daughter squealed with delight, “You actually brought it!”

Now, you don’t need to always been “even” with your wife. For example, my kids know that mommy will never engage in a pillow fight. But they know that daddy has no fear and will take them on even when he’s outnumbered.  And even though the rules specify you can only have one pillow, I somehow manage to get two and manage to hit them from opposite sides of the head at the same time, while saying in a loud monster-truck-announcer voice, “Thunderclap!” They also know that if they want to do a sewing project, they should talk to a parent besides daddy.

Don’t rule out movies and amusement parks altogether, but save them for building family memories, not daddy memories.

-Bryan Logan
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Bryan Logan is a father in Rochester, MN. He’s most likely to be writing analogies using geeky references. You can follow him and his wife’s blog at http://www.logan.cc/blog/ or follow Bryan on Twitter at @BryanMarkLogan.

Image via eHow

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