June 13, 2006

Interesting Trendwatch: Dad=Discipline?

Is it a random coincidence? A lack of vision about any other meaningful role for a dad? A traditional limitation on the way a dad's role is articulated today?

Is it the weird, hothouse environment of a press conference or a red carpet ropeline? [I recently experienced one from the other side, and let me tell you, "insipid" and "sycophantic" doesn't begin to describe the experience of a weekly magazine gaggle interview.] Or is it the cliches and stereotypes of the mass media just perpetuated ad nauseam?

Either way, check this out:

Late last year, [Matt] Damon said at a press conference that he "longed for" fatherhood. "But I've got to learn how to be a good disciplinarian," he said, "'cause I'm a professional uncle right now."
The kid's name's Isabella, btw, how non-weird-celebrity-name is that? Then this:
Its so exciting for him, Nacho Libre director Jared Hess told Us at the films premiere. Hes worried about being a dad as far as the discipline aspect, but hell definitely be the funnest dad on the planet.
The Jack Blacks had a boy, btw. Congrats. Until this second, when I just gave the kid a timeout for repeatedly trying to jump off the sofa arm against specific instructions, the idea of being a "disciplinarian" has hardly crossed my mind once since becoming a parent. But i certainly don't see or feel that my role is any different from my wife's on the teaching and limits and behavior front.

How do you see the idea of dads being the disciplinarians? Is that how you feel/expect/see things? Has that norm changed, or am I the only one who thinks my belt is just for holding in my pot belly?


My son is so much better around me than he is around my wife. I get way fewer tantrums than she does. Seriously, all it takes is just a slight look and the kid straightens up and flies right.

Cos he know daddy comes with the thunder.

Being a single mom, I often wonder if my daughter would behave more appropriately if she had a man in her life. Although I don't think that I am a horrible disciplinarian, I do agree with the guy who commented that all he has to do is look at his kid and he straightens up. It's something about presence and tone of voice that creates a threat and a sense of control. Playing the role of the good and bad cop is difficult at times, but is just part of the job / choice of single motherhood. In a "typical" family, it should not soley be the mother's job to play good cop and it doesn't seem quite fair for father's to have to develop a relationship with his child, in which he is always the hard ass.

I am the stay at home parent, and my son listens to me (almost) immediately when I give an instruction or make a request. Whereas it takes his dad a couple of requests/demands before he gets the expected result. I am definitely more of the heavy in the house, and I think that's because I'm the one who's having to enforce the rules the most. Dad is seen more as fun and exciting and I am more utilitarian.

You don't think that Damon was referring to the difference between getting to be the cool uncle who feeds you cake for breakfast and the dad who makes you drink milk with that cake? I'm a professional aunt, while I'm not crazy go nuts no rules aunt I still get to be more fun and less rules oriented than a parent. Feels like that was where he was going with that instead of talking about how dads give discipline and moms don't.

Growing up in my little dysfunctional corner of the world, my mom was the disciplinarian and dad was the fun guy, but that was as much a function of mom not letting dad have any say in the parenting gig and dad being too passive to stick up for himself.

Today, my fiance has an 11 year old from her first marriage and we have a 9 month old together. I don't participate in discipline on the 11 year old, but in terms of how he responds to her vs his real dad, he does a MUCH better job of listening/responding to his dad than he does to her -- she gets blown off regularly and usually has to repeat herself half a dozen times, while he just does whatever he's told with his dad (and then goes and complains about how dad makes him do too much when he comes home from his weekends there).

With our son together, I am getting the feeling that I may end up being the heavy between the two of us, which is kinda odd since I never really thought I'd be that kind of parent. I guess I'm getting grumpy in my old age or something!

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