Do Dads Really Have More Fun?

Rebecca Lang

No one can get my kids to laugh like my husband. Their laugh is different for him. It’s the deepest belly laugh and the highest squeal. It’s contagious and glorious, and I love listening to it as I clean up the dishes from dinner. Wait, why am I doing chores instead of joining the family fun?

Well, there are a few reasons, actually.

First, I’m with the kids all day, so I don’t mind the break. Second, my husband hasn’t seen the kids all day, so this is his bonding time with them. And third, he’s more fun than I am. He just is. I feel obliged to say that I have lots of fun with my kids, too, but I know my role. I am the task master who keeps our home life humming. My husband adds the excitement. To be clear, he is not the archetypal dopey sit-com dad. He does chores, changes diapers, issues discipline, and is more than capable of caring for our children, but on a day-to-day basis, his main job is to be fun.

Is this a dad thing? Is your family like this? I have a few theories about why this is. The first one has to do with how my husband and I grew up playing differently. When I was a little girl, I fed my baby doll, burped her, changed her diaper, and put her to sleep. I cooked in my play kitchen, cleaned my pretend floor, and rearranged furniture in my doll house. It’s actually funny-but-not-funny how much my adult life mirrors my childhood playtime.

On the other hand, as a boy, my husband ran around, threw any ball he could find, climbed on everything, and built things. He draws from that dynamic, engaging experience when he’s with our kids, and this leads them to release the most joyful energy I’ve ever seen. My calmer style of play, even the silly songs, funny voices, and all of the cuddles, just don’t hit the same spot. Putting aside the nature vs. nurture debate on why we played so differently, the fact remains that we translate our childhood playtime into our interactions with our own kids.

My other theory deals with how, in general, men and women’s minds process information differently. My husband is better at fully focusing on playtime than I am, and there’s scientific evidence to support this. Men think more linearly, having almost tunnel vision for the task at hand. Women think more circularly, able to multi-task more easily. There are benefits to both, but when it comes to playtime, it’s definitely better to engage whole heartedly and ignore the running “To Do” list cycling through your head.

My third reason is connected to that pesky “To Do” list. My “To Do’s” are more time-sensitive and critical to the family’s well being than my husband’s. You know, like preparing meals, laundering clothes, and enforcing proper hygiene for the children. My husband generally has the luxury of deciding whether he’ll take out the garbage now or later, when he’ll trim the hedges, or when he’ll respond to those incoming work emails. Quotes from The Second Shift are dancing in my head now, but I’ll reserve a meaty discussion on the division of household labor for a different article. The point I want to make here is that, even if I got better at fully engaging in playtime, my time to do it is more limited than my husband’s. I’ve got to keep the household running.

It all boils down to my husband being more fun than me. He gets the giggles, and I get the whining.

He gets, “Daddy, let’s play!”

I get, “Mommy, I want…” and “Mommy, I need…”

I had the same dynamic with my parents as a kid, so maybe it’s just karma?

In the end, I don’t really mind my role as the task master mom, and I’m not jealous of my husband. Who doesn’t want to see her partner laugh and roll around on the floor with their kids? I love that my children run to my husband when he walks through the door because, you know what? They do the same thing for me. They may be running to rattle off a list of demands, but they’re demands for their mom, and that’s me, and that’s good.

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Do Dads Really Have More Fun? | BonBon Break



This post was written by Rebecca Lang exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.

Rebecca is a contributing writer to San Francisco Moms Blog and stays home with her two toddlers. She and her husband go up to wine country on the weekends with their children as often as possible, knowing their free time will soon be hijacked by kids' sports schedules.