Why Are Dads So Good At Playing With the Kids?

September 9, 2008


We’ve all seen the funny cartoons, read all the snickering stories– men, for some weird, reason, love to play. You know what I’m talking about. Just as there is this cultural perception that women shop too much, there’s this same cultural perception that men play too much, especially on electronic games. It’s mocked in cartoon strips and in stories, just as women are mocked about their shopping.


But I think men do play better than women, in general. My man plays better than me, that’s for certain.

I hurt my back and have been on bed rest for almost a week. So while I lay here, the children have had to come up with their own activities. And, honestly, the younger ones haven’t always been making good choices. They want to play Legos all day, or play on the Playstation all day. You see, when I am up and about, I’m always organizing them into working parties. We have a lot to do around the house– fixing the garden fencing, building a French drain along the house foundation, packing up the summer clothes and preparing for winter’s wear. Laying here has put a temporary damper on our work parties. And the younger kids have been idle. And I can’t stand that!

So my husband has today off work. I asked him to please plan some constructive activity for the boys today, because they were about ready to bring the house down with all their antics. So what does he do?

He teaches them a game! They are in the Dining Room, learning how to play Parcheesi and Bible Trivia! That’s constructive?! I thought.

Then I stopped thinking, and thought a little. I thought about how I am– I rarely, rarely play with the kids– and how he is– he rarely, rarely works on projects with the kids. We obviously don’t have that “perfect order” in the home, but I hope there is at least balance. I know that I could definitely play with the kids more then I do. And he can work with the kids more than he does. But guys are really, really good at playing with their kids. Did you ever notice that?

Hop On Pop

Doing Stuff with the Dad

I’ve been surfing some of your blogs– you who have the photos of your husband tossing your little girl upside down while she squeals in delight; you who talk about your husband teaching your little boy how to ride a bike. Dads are natural playmates. I think it’s kind of cute. šŸ™‚

When my kids were very young, after dinner was eaten and the plates cleared, Hubs would have “wrestling time” with the kids. It often involved a large floor space, a dozen large fluffy pillows, and four energetic little muchkins who pig-piled on dad. I sat back, watching from a chair while I mended trousers or cross-stitched delicate patterns.


After a snowstorm on cold winter days, he was always out there ready to haul all four parka-packed kids, piled up on a small toboggan, across the frozen tundra that was our backyard. I was the lady with the camera, snapping photos, and coming to the rescue of an occassional lost mitten or hat or child that was getting too cold.

This is not to imply that I never do anything resembling play, or that he never does anything resembling work. My husband takes my son with him to go mow the lawn and fix the doghouse; I take the kids when we travel to different areas and teach them arts and crafts projects. But overall there is a discernable pattern: moms are industrious and work, dads are fun and they play.

Dad is the guy who takes the kids on piggyback, who pushes the swings, who pulls the cart, who tumbles down the slide with the baby. Yeah, Dads are really good when it comes to playing with the kids!

So I’m cooling my “nag” jets when it comes to what I think are “constructive” activities and what he thinks are “constructive” activities. People are different– moms and dads are different. I think it’s good for kids to be exposed to these differences, because pieced together, it brings wholeness. And a kid is a terrible thing to waste.

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9 Responses to “Why Are Dads So Good At Playing With the Kids?”

  1. Karen Says:

    Is that your hubby in the picture? He is very handsome. Yes, my hubby was always wrestling with the kids. Drove me crazy! We moms keep the peace it seems.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    I think that dads play better with kids because in many ways dads still are kids. They just like to play in general. When men get together, they don’t talk, lunch or shop. They usually play golf, tennis, basketball, etc. or else they will watch or talk about a game or sport.

  3. frugal fergie Says:

    I have to agree with Jennifer – it’s because men are kids. In a good way, though. It’s a very endearing quality to have a youthful heart.

  4. Karen C. Says:

    What a great guy! I wish my kids had someone like that. I have to do both roles because I’m divorced and their dad is, sadly, all about himself.

  5. abelle | Only in Silence Says:

    When you mentioned ‘wrestling time’, I remembered when my husband and our son played wrestling on, of all places, our bed. They got the side of the bed cover ripped. They just looked at me with that ‘uh-oh, we’re dead’ look on their faces, smiled then continued as if it’s ‘okay, it’s going to get ripped anyway’. And guess what, every year when my husband gets home, there’s still wrestling time as if they never get old. That’s aside from the basketball time, chess time, etc ;o)

    Btw, Rebecca, I like your blog’s new look. Happy blogging! ;o)

  6. fit4all Says:

    how adorable when husband is a master of clown. who could always make a happy smile to their kids!:)

  7. Laura Says:

    My husband played a little too well. He wanted to be a kid again and on weekends he always wanted to go to the toy stores. I felt I was married to a kid and not in a good way. It was lonely at times.

  8. Hilary Says:

    My husband is definitely a better player mostly because he doesn’t see Maddy all day like I do. He has more energy to play I guess.

    However, my goal is to be a mom who plays with her children as they get older: boardgames, outside, etc. When we were younger, my sibling and I would play board games after dinner with our dad while mom would clean. It was a bummer. Maybe my dad could have helped to speed things along. Maybe we all could have helped. That’s also why, my rule after dinner will be everyone cleans, everyone plays!

  9. Rebecca Says:

    LOL, some of these comments are pretty funny! Yeah, being married to a playmate certainly has its downside…