The Difference Between Moms & Dads

I’ve been married for six years now, which means I’m extraordinarily familiar with my wife’s vocal intonations. I can tell when she’s happy, sad, anxious, jealous, nervous, annoyed, and — most of all — pissed. So when the phone rang last week on my way home from work, it only took a few words to figure out she was FURIOUS!

“Your son got in trouble at preschool today,” she began (notice for some reason Will is always MY son when he’s in trouble). “You’re gonna be so angry when you hear this.”

“Oh boy,” I said as I imagined the worst. “How bad is it? What’d he do?”

“His teacher said he and his friends were playing superheroes and Transformers, and they were PLAY-FIGHTING!! They kept pretending to fight and hit each other right in the classroom!”

The silence that followed on my end of the conversation wasn’t meant for effect, I was simply waiting for MJ to finish the rest of the story. Because I assumed there would have to be more than that to warrant such contempt on her part.

“OK. Well, did he actually hit anyone?”


“So he was playing superheroes with friends, no one hit anybody else, and he’s in trouble? Am I missing something?”

A “spirited” discussion took place from that point on, and the only thing that came out of it was the understanding that moms and dads view some things very, very differently. MJ was mad because she doesn’t want Will to fight, play fight, or mimic fighting in any way, shape or form. She just thinks it’s bad form and she plans on disciplining Will any time he engages in it. And to be fair, she’s not alone. I talked to several other parents and the moms largely agreed with her.

The dads on the other hand…

Sorry, but I don’t see anything wrong with what happened. Will clearly knows the difference between real and pretend. He knows full well that if he actually hits someone as a result of anything other than self-defense, it’s wrong and he’d be in some serious trouble. But he didn’t hit anyone. Simply put, I don’t think he did anything wrong.

I know it’s cliche, but boys will be boys. It’s too bad that’s become a bad thing over the years, but I still think it’s true. I let Will watch Spiderman, Batman, Superman and Transformers. Are there fights in them? Yup. Do I think that’s inappropriate for a 4-year-old? Not at all. Because I explain what’s appropriate and what isn’t, what’s real and what’s fake. And Will understands that. When he’s around his friends, they have sword fights and shoot Spiderman webs at each other. They aren’t malicious and they have good-natured fun.

But apparently that’s been deemed inherently evil by the powers that be. Because while boys are readily encouraged to play pretend in the kitchen and even put on dresses (which I’m also in favor of by the way), they’re not allowed anything that could even remotely resemble even the possible potential appearance of something so…violent. Oh the horror of pretend superhero play!!

Now he’s so upset from his teachers and MJ getting on him, he’s scared of playing superheroes at all. Worse than that, he rats out the perfectly normal boys who try to get him to play because he’s been told how bad it is. Basically they turned my son into a sissy narc, which is so sad to me. And completely unnecessary.

To be fair, when I got some more information from the school I found out Will ignored the teacher when she asked him to stop play fighting. And that is not acceptable. He knows he has to listen to adults and especially his teachers. And he was punished for that. But I couldn’t punish him for play fighting. Not a chance. He’s a normal kid and that’s normal kid behavior. It’s not destructive or malevolent, and it shouldn’t be a punishable offense.

I love moms and I love my wife. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. But I truly believe in my heart she’s wrong, the teacher is wrong and the school is wrong. They’re little boys and this is how boys play. I’m not sure why it’s discouraged when, in fact, it should be celebrated.

So I told Will it’s OK to do with his friends outside of school, but when he’s in school it’s not allowed. Obviously his first question was “Why?”

I wish I knew kid. I wish I knew.

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19 thoughts on “The Difference Between Moms & Dads

  1. I am with you completely on this one Aaron. Little boys play like little boys, and that is something I don’t think their mothers will ever understand. All they see is violence because they never played like that. I mean hell my friends and I still throw fake punches at each other every once and a while. If the kids are old enough to tell the difference between real and fake then there is NO harm in it.

  2. You know, I’m a woman (not yet a mother), and I agree with you. In fact, I think more little girls should be encouraged to play-fight with their friends. I certainly did–I played ninjas and had all-out wars with kids on my street and had a rotten peach fight with my friends once and in general played rough. And holy crap, it was FUN. The only time I’d ever get in trouble…was when I’d play-fight at school.

    The only reason I think the situation with Will might be wrong is because he was playing superheroes in the classroom and not listening to his teacher when she said to stop. I could see playing rough in the classroom being very distracting, if it’s a place where other students are trying to learn. And it’s important to listen to teachers. But just play-fighting? That should never be punished.

    It kind of rankles when you say things like “mothers will never understand”, although obviously I see where you get your data from and why you’d draw that conclusion. Just remember that there are absolutely women out there who still play-punch their friends and would also find it strange and inappropriate for their child to be punished for playing superheroes.

  3. I agree with you. However, I have to ask where he was at school. Playground? in class?
    I for one, think that playfighting is NOT an inside activity. And they were right to scold him if he was indoors. However, if it was out on the playground, who cares, as long as (so you obviously are already doing) the child is taught what’s real and what’s not and taught CONTROL. My nephews playfight and wrestle all the time, and they get ROUGH. No one has had the decency (laziness) to teach them there is a time, and place and that it should never hurt the other person, and they’re free to behave like wild animals. I think that’s why people tend to freak out. Because some people just seem to think that’s where it ALWAYS leads, because they and/or others simply can’t be bothered to teach the difference. And it doesn’t have to lead to things (or people) getting broken and smashed around. It can be fun. It can be a learning experience as well (teaching accuracy of aiming, and teaching kids how to control their actions in play so that the other people aren’t hurt)

    but if you’re gonna roughhouse, get outside. seriously. because accidents do happen.

  4. CEM: Very true. Please don’t mistake what I’m saying. I know there are moms out there who feel the same way as I do (and dads out there who agree with my wife). I’m just speaking in generalities and basing things on my own circle of acquaintances.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..The Difference Between Moms & DadsMy Profile

  5. Ah boys and girls, I always played rough with my daughter trying to make sure she was tough and ready to rumble. One day she was wrestling with her cousins(twin boys one year older) and having a blast AND holding her own, THEN, they took it to the next level. She stepped back and kind of looked at them like they were nuts. Nope, just boys being boys. I think we both learned a lesson that day. lol. 😉

  6. KBear: It was inside but I still don’t see a problem because they never actually made physical contact. It can’t be roughhousing if there’s nothing rough going on. From what I understand it was not during a classroom activity, but more of a free play period.
    DaddyFiles1 recently posted..The Difference Between Moms & DadsMy Profile

  7. I think teachers in general ban the playing because they fear that someone could get hurt unintentionally. I clearly remember the old saying “its all fun and games until someone gets hurt.” They really are protecting themselves, the teachers, that is.

  8. FWIW, I’m a mom AND pregnant and I agree with you. Like CEM, I grew up with it being ok to playfight, even as a girl. I played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles growing up! (And no, don’t get me started on Michael Bay and his reboot plans, ugh.) My son is 2 and we have already started working with him on it not being ok to hit. I’m sure once he figures out the difference between real fighting and play fighting, we’ll see it happen. He’s already got Superman PJs, it’s a natural progression 😉

  9. I am a dad’s girl and I can say that the love from a dad is different from a mom…I might say that they have exceptional love even though we know that moms are loving than dads…
    MaDhares recently posted..How To Overcome AnxietyMy Profile

  10. I like your blog graphic – is it custom made, or maybe some public template? Where can I download it from?
    Clara recently posted..Ativan 1mgMy Profile

  11. I don’t get this. I have two little boys, and honestly I still sometimes think I have no idea what I’m doing. I only have sisters and no experience with boys. One thing I KNOW is that some things are inherent. I didn’t encourage my boys to love cars and trains. I didn’t encourage them to play swords and fighting. But it happened none the less. I don’t understand not letting them do these things… it’s just a thing that kids do. In fact, I think it brings up a good opportunity to teach them the difference between right and wrong, real and pretend.
    Rachael recently posted..Week 15: Short but SweetMy Profile

  12. I think it’s a bit ridiculous that the teacher was concerned that he was “play fighting” let alone your wife caring. If he was playing basketball and was charging through the lane and knocked the kid over and drew the blocking foul, your wife would most likely be the first one cheering for him that it was a good play. It’s all in the perspective, and the women’s perspective is always to over dramatize it.
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  13. It really depends on the foundation of the family…I think, there are some who are a dad’s girl but sometimes, there are also some mommy’s girl…
    Rossalie recently posted..Guest houses PaigntonMy Profile

  14. I dont see any harm in it as logn as it happens outside. My son’s daycare lets kids play fight or wrestle ( I can’t rememeber which) as long as certain rules are followed again, not sure what they are.
    Siera recently posted..Blake Shelton Concert RecapMy Profile

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