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development | parenting

The Role of Dads – Part 2 – S2 E8

One of the most important relationships when raising a child is the relationship you have with your co-parent. Any partnership can lead to disagreements on the “right” way to do things but it’s important to recognize that children benefit from learning different approaches to life from both their mom and dad.

Allan Stockellburg rejoins host Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez for the second part of a three-episode series on fatherhood. They talk about why communication and understanding between parents are key to building a positive environment for your little one, and the differences between maternal and paternal parenting styles.

Podcast Resources:
Guest: Allan Stockellburg
Parent Aid
Dads Do It All
Strong Families AZ
Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez
Podcast Credits:

host Host: Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez is the Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. She is married, has two young children, and loves reading (anything except parenting books!) and watching movies and TV. She loves to spend time with her kids (when they aren’t driving her crazy) and celebrate all of their little, and big, accomplishments. Jessica has been in the field of family and child development for over 20 years, working towards normalizing the hard work of parenting and making it easier to ask the hard questions.

host Guest: “Dad Guru” Allan Stockellburg, the executive director of Parent Aid.


Parenting Brief Fatherhood Pt2

[00:00:00] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Welcome to The Parenting Brief. I’m your host, Jessica Stewart Gonzalez, an Arizona working mom and Chief of the Office of Children’s Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services. From crawling and walking to learning and growing, the answers to your biggest parenting questions are here.

[00:00:28] We’re so glad you’re here for this episode of The Parenting Brief. This is part two of our special miniseries on fatherhood. Last time we talked about the unique characteristics of dads and how they contribute to a child’s development. Today, we see how paternal styles of parenting complement maternal styles of parenting.

[00:00:48] If you feel like your partner or co-parent just isn’t getting it when it comes to how you make parenting decisions, well, there might be a reason why. That’s our topic for today’s episode.[00:01:00]

[00:01:03] Back for more conversation is Alan Stockellburg the Executive Director of Parent Aid. Thank you for continuing this discussion with us on fatherhood.

[00:01:10] Allan Stockellburg: Thanks for having me back.

[00:01:12] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: I’m sure that there is an endless list of ways that moms and dads parent differently, but could you outline some of the biggest differences?

[00:01:21] Allan Stockellburg: Sure. Before I do that, I, I would feel remiss to not address that one thing to remember is that we are always more alike than we are different, but we have to acknowledge those differences. Right. So Kyle Pruett in the book Fatherneed kind of outlined some tendencies of what maternal and paternal tendencies were like

[00:01:38] and, for me it just, it speaks volumes. One of the ones that just seemed so, it doesn’t seem important, but to me, it almost exemplifies the entire rest of the list is that men tend to hold babies differently nine times out of 10, and moms tend to hold babies the same way, nine times out of 10. And that you maybe have like two or three holds as moms, um, you know, your cross [00:02:00] cradle or something like that and, that’s what your go-to, and dads we’re all over the place. We do the Simba, we do tiger in the tree, we, you know, we do ’em over our neck, we do all these crazy holds right. And I think so much of what comes down to the differences in mothering and fathering can be viewed in just watching a new mom hold a baby and a new dad hold a baby. And new mom you can see like, she is just like staring down at baby and just trying to like read their baby’s soul and just like, almost like putting in mind beams, like I am your mother, I am here for you, I will always be here and dad is just tossing the baby around the room, like trying to just figure out like, what’s going on.

[00:02:37] Like, do they like it out here? Do they like it onto my chest? Do they like it out in the air? Right. So much of that is learned response I think on the part of moms, there’s a real culture of motherhood, a real sisterhood of motherhood that is really cultures a lot of women to be good moms. And there’s not a lot out there for men and dads.

[00:02:56] If any ladies that are listening can really just take a moment to think about when was [00:03:00] the first time you ever felt like you entered training for motherhood? Think about like your first doll, anytime anybody said you’re gonna be such a good mom. You know, you were asked if you wanted to babysit the young kids in the neighborhood, anything like that.

[00:03:13] And then if you asked dads that same question, they’ll be like, I never got any of that. Obviously, they probably never got that you’re gonna be a good mom, but they also never got, you’re gonna be such a good dad. Right? Oftentimes we don’t get that message if we get it at all until we actually are a dad. So with that, we are on the job learners.

[00:03:30] That is why we are constantly kind of moving the baby around and trying to figure out these different holds because we are trying to figure out what works for us. We just became a dad, you know, sometimes 30 seconds ago and we’re just figuring life out one moment at a time. I think some of the issue that happens in the, that given situation is that a lot of people see that man kind of moving baby around, figuring life out and, we view that as he doesn’t know how to hold the baby. Right, and so we step in and rescue him and we say, oh, I’ll hold the baby for you, [00:04:00] you look like you’re having a hard time. Well, we’ve just now removed all that practice from him. We’ve removed his practice time. We’ve removed his on the job training time.

[00:04:07] So now his learning curve is now, you know, much shallower. It’s gonna take him a lot longer to build a lot of the skills that he’s looking for. So if I can give any piece of advice out there, it’s don’t rescue, don’t rescue us, let us struggle. Let us figure it out. Let us be there. Let us bond and attach with our children when we’re doing that.

[00:04:24] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: How do we kind of come to terms with that for those situations where that co-parent, that dad isn’t residing in the same home? And that child goes back and forth between mom’s and dad’s home and there are really drastically different approaches to parenting. And there isn’t that opportunity to talk and learn and have them see that yes, it’s okay that this happens, but more so that like, mom is really mad the way that dad does it at dad’s house and kids come home and, you know, baby’s [00:05:00] really upset for a long period of time or, you know, the rules are different or how do we approach that in those situations where we don’t have that nuclear, you know, two -parent household and trying to co-parent in the same space, but trying to co-parent in separate spaces.

[00:05:17] Allan Stockellburg: That is never easy. In my opinion, that takes a tremendous amount of communication, patience and understanding. And those are usually three things that are pretty lacking in a co-parenting separate household situation. For me, what always needs to be at the forefront of any conversation like this always 100% unequivocably needs to be, what is best for the children.

[00:05:41] That needs to be always the goal. Now, when there’s different rules around well at dad’s house, I can go to bed at 8:30 and at mom’s house, I gotta go to bed at 7:30. That is not fair to the children that is not in their best interests. That’s in the best interest of the parent. Right, so [00:06:00] as far as things like that, like, you know how much sugar is allowed, when does homework need to be done?

[00:06:05] When is bedtime? I am a big proponent that those things have to remain consistent and there needs to be some sort of compromise. It’s okay to let go of a little bit, to make sure that it, it remains consistent for the child. Consistency is much better than, you know, getting it quote unquote right three and a half days a week and wrong three and a half days a week.

[00:06:26] So, that can be a big challenge, the other is and this is not impossible, you have to be able to separate your romantic feelings from your partner from your parenting feelings from your partner. And that is so hard. I used to work with a lot of young dads and so many of them would come and sit with me and, I could see their heart just broken on the floor because their girlfriend broke up with them the night before and they knew that that meant that they were not going to be able to see their child, because we cannot [00:07:00] separate our romantic feelings. When you can, and I have no magic wand for this, but when you can say, I’m just gonna come at this from the best interest of the child and not worry about any feelings I have past present to our future for that individual as a partner

[00:07:14] and, I’m viewing them as a co-parent in my child’s life that begins to take the right steps. But it’s, I, I don’t think there’s any tool that anybody can espouse that says, yep, this is gonna work. Right. It’s always just up to, how can those two parents reach common ground through communication, patience and understanding.

[00:07:33] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: So then whose responsibility is it to ensure that a dad figure is involved in a child’s life?

[00:07:45] Allan Stockellburg: I mean first and foremost, it’s the dad, right? He needs to advocate for himself. No, I want to be involved. However, there are a lot of blocks in place that can just say, well, no, I’m sorry. You’re just, I don’t want you involved.

[00:07:57] You’re not going to be involved. So we need [00:08:00] to allow them involvement where they’re showing interest and where they, where their interest in it. But also I think a lot of men think they are not allowed to vocalize interest in participation and, you just need to ask them the question. I mean, I know so many people that say, you know, hey, dads don’t talk a lot, they don’t vocalize a lot. They don’t talk to me about what it’s like to be a parent. When you can just ask a question and shut up, like, you’d be amazed at what kind of, some of their responses are. So if we can just ask, start asking questions, how would you like to be involved in your child’s life? When you think about being a parent and engaging with your child, what do you see yourself doing?

[00:08:38] Ask questions like this and get them interested. So many times you ask a prenatal dad with his first child. What do you foresee yourself doing with your children? They’ll tell you things like, oh, I’m gonna play catch, we’re gonna go fishing. I’m like, well, that’s great in three years, but what are you doing for the next 36 months?

[00:08:55] You know, and a lot of times they, they kind of just forget about that participatory [00:09:00] role so much earlier, because I think so many times we’ve witnessed men excusing theirselves from that timeframe, those first few years in which, I’ll be totally 100% honest, there’s a lot of men who feel replaceable and futile in that area because they know that mom can provide everything that that baby needs. That mom can provide that loving space can provide all the nutrition, everything that that baby needs.

[00:09:23] So to answer that question, I mean, it needs to be dad, but we also need to be asking dad how he would like to be more involved rather than just like assigning certain things.

[00:09:35] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Thank you for all of your insights on this topic today, Allan.

[00:09:38] Allan Stockellburg: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

[00:09:47] Jessica Stewart-Gonzalez: Want to learn more? We have links for you in the episode show notes. We’ll wrap up our series on fatherhood in our next episode, when Allan and I discuss how dad figures impact a community. Make sure to follow the podcast [00:10:00] to hear this special episode. Until then, this is Jessica. You’ve got this.

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