26 Nov

How to be two fun parents

Parents often seem to work together as a yin and yang, that is, polar opposites, rather than as Mr. and Mrs. Smith or She-ra and He-man, counterparts with similar strategies and techniques. In the latest episode of “Modern Family” the yin, dad, is super fun, and the yang, mom, super not fun. And so, the question around the blogosphere is, “Can you have two fun parents in the family?” (e.g., Momania).

The answer of course is, yes. And the real question is, how can both parents avoid being super not fun, concurrently?

  1. Dads aren’t innately more fun and this dichotomous parenting isn’t “natural” or “normal,” except in sitcom land. Tim the Tool Man was just clueless, sometimes even when it came to tools, but he tried to be responsible, when his wife threatened him. Wait, that’s a bad example.
  2. Don’t hog all the yin. Parents have to share both the fun and responsible sides of parenting. Clearly, if dad takes up all the yin, mom is more likely to pick up the slack, all the yang (e.g., Mrs. Doubtfire). Instead, each parent takes half the yang, and then spices it with some yin when they dish it out to the kids.
  3. Both parents should be stay-at-home at least metaphorically, or metaphysically, or something. This is a continuation of number 2. Often the working parent focuses their responsibleness on their career, while the stay-at-home parent directs theirs to the kids. This might force parents into a fun/boring dichotomy. Sometimes after a long day alone with the kids I realize I need to step it up with the yang and help my wife out.
  4. You might have to play good cop, bad cop, but take turns. Sometimes I find myself filling in where my wife leaves off – if she gives second chances, I take them away, if she’s unrelenting, I’m lenient. Maybe we’re catching the kids off guard – she lures them in and then I attack. It’s teamwork. Taking turns seems wise. Of course, when the poop hits the fan you may have to play bad cop, bad cop.
  5. Go camping more often.

How do you think parents can stay balanced?