Dads and Play
Fathers play differently with children, using more physical and vigorous play activities. Fathers use more physical contact and spend a larger proportion of time playing (40 percent vs. 25 percent for mothers).
Mothers almost automatically join at the child's level of play, often allowing the child to direct the play activity. In contrast, fathers are more likely to position themselves as the leader. Fathers encourage teamwork and stimulate children to experiment with new games, to learn new skills, to compete, and to push the limits of their knowledge and abilities. Children need both types of play interaction: a chance to direct and the opportunity to be challenged.
When mothers discipline children, they tend to adjust the discipline to the child's current state of mind. A father is much more likely to discipline by "rules." Mothers offer children flexibility and run the risk of continual bargaining. Fathers offer children predictability and run the risk of rigidity. Mothers offer sympathy; fathers offer consistency.
Fathers make a unique contribution as parents.