Dad Is On My Side, Mom Isn’t

When I was 17 a friend and I decided it would be fun to spend part of our summer biking to the Texas coast – a ride of about 200 miles. We looked into which roads would be legal, and how we could camp along the way. We also started taking long rides whenever we could, together or separately, to build up our endurance. My mother was very much opposed to the trip, while my father was for it.

In the end, we didn’t make the trip because my friend went and got a summer job!

Dad Is On My Side, Mom Is Not

As an adult, I understand all the concerns my mother had. It was not a 100% safe idea, but we were doing a good job of making it safe enough that my father thought we would be okay. 

The difference between what my mother and father felt was an acceptable level of risk is something most young men hit up against if they grow up with both parents. I think the balance is a good thing for boys. A mother alone would restrain her sons too much, while a father alone might let them go too far. 

While this makes me see the wisdom of God’s plan, I didn’t see it that way back then. To me, it looked like dad trusted me and was on my side while mom didn’t and wasn’t.

If you have sons, this bit of information may be of some help to you. However, sons or not, please understand your husband may have grown up seeing mom as holding him back or doubting his abilities. If he transferred that to women in general, he may feel you doubt him or try to hold him back. He could feel this even if you have never done it, and if you have played into it at all it could be a major issue for him.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and not making that trip is one of the biggest regrets of my adolescence. 

Image Credit: © JenRegnier |
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15 Comments on “Dad Is On My Side, Mom Isn’t

  1. In our household if our son wants to engage in a more risky boyish behavior or task, then he has to defer to his father. When he was old enough for a BB gun, the rule was and still is “only if dad says yes.” However, if he shows any signs of aggression, stupidity, or irresponsibility, be it his go-cart, or his BB gun, his archery set, or Swiss army knife, he is done. Grounded until dad sees fit to restore him.

    My husband remembers what it is like to be a boy, and he remembers his own stupidity, so I trust him. In turn, hubby has come to respect my “motherly instinct,” and if I feel that foreboding cloud, or I warn against something, hubby takes that into consideration.

    • @Libl “My husband remembers what it is like to be a boy, and he remembers his own stupidity…”

      Yeah, that’s a big part of it. The potential problem is if a man was too repressed by his mom. He might then not have good stupidity experience. Or he might be too lenient as a way of pushing back against the unreasonable limits put on him.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Who’s In Charge? Follow UpMy Profile

  2. So what do you do when you disagree? Do you always let dad decide? Or does mom’s instincts deserve to be respected? I understand not wanting to hold your sons back, but mothers are that way for a reason and always going against what mom thinks is right will 1. cause sons not to even respect their mothers and 2. cause crazy worry and make the mom feel like her opinions and feelings don’t matter. So what do you do?

    • @JessicaHill – Hopefully mom and dad are able to privately talk through things and come to a joint decision. Her concerns are valid, and they need to inform the decision-making process.

      Dad may be reasonable (see what Libl said above) or he may be too permissive. If mom is always okay with the final decision either she is really laid back or the boy is being held back too much.

      The key is letting them do stupid things in ways that have no real long-term risks. Let them learn with things that will result in a scraped knee, not the loss of a limb. This teaches them their own limits and some wisdom. It also allows mom and dad to see if they are finding those limits and gaining wisdom.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Who’s In Charge? Follow UpMy Profile

  3. We have several boys. If they want to do more risky things I will express my concerns. If it is not something I am willing to be responsible for I refer them to dad and tell him what worries me and leave it with him. I trust his decision. Somethings I let them do even though I am not so thrilled about it, like climbing trees really high. I just don’t look! Why should my fears hold them back. I try to deal out no sparingly but when it is warranted. I also ask them about how they plan to mitigate risk. I feel I need to trust my boys as much as possible because it helps them to be more responsible and to feel good about themselves. I also am ‘comfortable’ with them getting hurt even if I don’t like it so much, if that makes sense.

  4. One of the things that I find funny is my wife is very quick to tell me how things that I say or do could negatively impact our daughter’s development because of how she will perceive things. When I bring the same thing up that her anxiety will create issues with our son developing into a man, I get the deer in the headlights look as if I’m speaking Martian. Boys absolutely need to be socialized into how to manage and take risks, one of the biggest issues I see with kids growing up today (especially boys) is how risk averse they have become. It is hard to understand, but there is developmental value in doing things that seem like a bad idea.

      • We teach avoidance not management. We try to get kids to just avoid sex, avoid alcohol, avoid risk instead of teaching them how to effectively manage themselves in their own environment. Excessive avoidance is what creates huge pendulum swings once people learn that what they were initially taught is wrong. At some point my kids have to go out into the world where there is pretty much unlimited access to alcohol, sex, and dangerous games to play….are they better off if I just hide those things from them until they are adults, or should they be gradually empowered to manage themselves in the face of those things?

        • Well, there’s a difference between avoidance and hiding. My dad had a serious drinking problem as a young man, and the overwhelming majority of his extended family had problems with alcohol. I have never had a sip of alcohol in my life because when I was young (about 11) my dad sat me down and explained the issues he had had, that they were likely genetic as well as temperamental, and that it would be exceedingly unwise for me to drink because of the risk of becoming an alcoholic.

          I have avoided alcohol because I’ve known it would be destructive for me. My dad didn’t hide that alcohol exists. He told me clearly and logically what the problems for me could be and did it young enough that I hadn’t yet encountered any situations where it would be an issue.

          Given the history and the risks, it would have been incredibly irresponsible of him to shrug and say “teens will be teens” and allow (or even encourage) me to drink because it’s not like he should stop me.

          There is a difference in encouraging some risks and encouraging potentially self-destructive behavior. Sex and drinking definitely falls into the “self-destructive’ category, and it should be treated as such. There’s nothing wrong with telling your diabetic teen to avoid sugar or telling every child to avoid drugs. Why wouldn’t you tell them to avoid something that would harm them? Why wouldn’t you encourage them to understand making those kinds of choices?

          • No, I don’t agree that sex and drinking fall into the self destructive category automatically……they have the potential to be self destructive. “Treating them as such” is EXACTLY the nonsense I’m talking about, treating sex as a self destructive behavior is exactly how we screw people up for life

            What your dad did isn’t avoidance, he explained the choices that you have, and the risk factors in them…which helped you make your own choice. Avoidance is telling kids “wait until you’re married” as the only type of sex ed you feel like giving them, or that drinking is just evil with no explanation or context as to why. Especially when these are things that exist out in the world. You cannot say “drinking is bad” when they have to be around 90% of the people they are around consume alcohol, and assume they are going to be able to socialize normally.

          • I’m talking about avoiding the issue, not avoiding the item. I avoid eating fast food, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need to prepare my children to live in a world where there is fast food on every corner. They should understand that they will see better health outcomes and have fewer problems the less of it they eat, as it is a poor dietary choice and not a great use of money. If I just tell my kids you’re never having McDonalds period they will grow more and more curious about it, and once I can no longer restrict them….they may choose to go crazy with it, like a lot of kids do with sex or alcohol. Don’t make it a rebellious and cool thing by being afraid of it and giving it mistique.

    • My father taught us kids “hot” at a very young age by turning on a light bulb or lighting a candle and allowing us to touch them if we chose to. He warned us “don’t touch, it’s hot and will hurt you,” but kids being kids, some of us would go ahead and disobey. OUCH!

      Instead of child proofing the house he taught us to be mindful, careful, and trust him when he says don’t. The light bulb or the little candle don’t do lasting damage, but falling onto our wood stove or playing with matches could.

      Today, that would be considered child abuse by some, to deliberately allow your child to get hurt. Instead, we are supposed to bubble wrap everything and keep them away from danger.

      Pain is a great motivator to be mindful.

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