A father tends to:
- Bond with children in short bursts of connection, both physical and emotional
(“short-touch” bonding, rough-and-tumble play).
- Focus on teaching children order, pattern thinking, and ritualized action, (Dads will tend
to care less about the minutia of the child’s needs, but care more about larger structures and tools
the child might need for future survival.)
emotion, even at the risk of hurt feelings, in order to “up-play” performance. (Males are chemically and neurally directed toward immediate
rewards from performance, and they prod children in this direction.)
- Promote risk taking and independence in the growing child. (Many moms
promote independence, but in general, dads push children toward separation from caregivers and
encourage them to “grow up!” faster than moms do.)
- Expect and enforce discipline and provide contests and tests of skill. (Dads tend to be more
competitive than moms, especially in their assertion to children that being able to compete in tests
of skill against others is the key to future success.)
- Teach the child to fight against personal and group vulnerability. (With less of the
male brain’s blood flow devoted to emotional processing than the female, fathers tend to deny any
emotional vulnerability or try to problem-solve quickly to avoid such vulnerability.)
the child to sacrifice his or her own thinking in deference to “authority thinking” until the child has proven his or her own core nature to be mature enough to become authoritative.
Although there are certainly exceptions to this, fathers tend to employ more authoritarian parenting
styles than mothers and retain that authority well into the child’s adulthood, waiting for the child
to prove himself (this generally applies more to sons) worthy of being respected as an
- Direct the child’s search for self-worth toward the larger society (that is,
encouraging less introspection and more immediate
- Try to help the child feel stronger in the
long term even if the child does not feel better in the moment. Fathers tend to care less than
mothers about whether a child “feels good.” Fathers tend to want obvious shows of strength from
children. This is especially true in their attitude toward sons.
– By Michael Gurian
Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from
NURTURE THE NATURE. Copyright (c) 2007 by Michael Gurian. This book is available at all
bookstores, online booksellers and from the Wiley website at www.wiley.com, or call 1-800-225-5945.
Michael Gurian is a social philosopher, family therapist, corporate
consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books. A parenting and
family expert, he is co-founder of The Gurian Institute, a training organization that provides
schools, homes, workplaces and community agencies with crucial understanding of how boys and girls
learn differently, and how women and men work and lead differently. Blending brain-based theory with
practical application and cultural relevance, the Institute conducts research internationally,
launches pilot and training programs, and trains professionals.
His groundbreaking books on child development and education that have sparked
national debate include The Wonder of Boys, Boys and Girls Learn Differently!, The Wonder of Girls,
and The Minds of Boys. He has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into
homes, workplaces, schools and public policy. A sought-after speaker and consultant, he lives with
his wife and two daughters in Spokane, Washington.
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