Yin and Yang: 8 Ways Differing Parenting Style Helps Our Kids

To-may-to, to-mah-to, po-tay-to, po-tah-to. But my husband and I are not calling anything off. It’s been this way since the dawn of time; there have always been vastly different approaches that men and women apply to life. She wants to talk, he wants silence. She wants to shop, he wants to watch sports. She wants to vent, he wants to fix. But one of the largest differences in many couples is apparent in their parenting style.

Huge disclaimer here: just like the attributes we ascribe to each gender, our respective approaches to parenting are fluid, ever-changing, and applicable in gradations. In many cases they have more to do with personality than gender.

I’m the typical neurotic, and my husband is more cavalier. Visit any playground and you’ll notice that often one parent takes on the careful, protective, type A persona, and the other is the risk-taker, improvising and freewheeling. Studies have shown, however, “that divergent styles can help prepare kids for a world of negotiating various types of people. They learn how dissimilarities can be complementary, and that those dissimilarities needn’t mean strife.”

What follows is our contribution to our kids’ sense of ‘shades of gray’ (not THAT kind, yuck) by the yin (me) and yang (my husband) approach to parenting below.

all photos credit of deamstime

  • TRANSITIONING TO BEDTIME: YIN 1 of 16
    bedtime ying

    Warm bath, soft music, two stories, and lights out. If that doesn't work, cry a little ...

  • TRANSITIONING TO BEDTIME: YANG 2 of 16
    bedtime yang

    After-dark lizard catching adventure followed by outdoor hose bath. Throw into bed, bonus points for a slight head bonk on the wall to make them extra sleepy, give a Dad rendition of Sandra Boynton's "The Going To Bed Book" as sung by Bob Dylan" until they pass out.

  • BRUSHING TEETH: YIN 3 of 16
    teeth ying

    Using the sand timer from the dentist's office, watch them closely to make sure they get all their teeth. When they don't, crouch down and gently coax them into letting you finish. After they ignore requests to rinse, resort to begging and tell stories of children poisoned by extreme fluoride consumption.

  • BRUSHING TEETH: YANG 4 of 16
    teeth yang

    Use gobs of toothpaste and then tackle them onto the bed, shove brush forcibly into mouth and get whatever teeth you happen to reach. Use rabid-looking foam around mouth to play "Shave." Do not rinse. Do not repeat.

  • COMFORTING YOUR CHILD AFTER A PLAYGROUND SCUFFLE: YIN 5 of 16
    playground ying

    Hold your child and speak to them calmly. Try to get them to articulate their feelings, which you then acknowledge, then offer help on how to process said feelings, e.g., "I know it's upsetting when Johnny won't share, but maybe we could play on the slide until he is done with the truck," all while passive-aggressively giving Johnny's mom the hairy eyeball.

  • COMFORTING YOUR CHILD AFTER A PLAYGROUND SCUFFLE: YANG 6 of 16
    playground yang

    Grab the damn truck from Johnny.

  • GETTING DRESSED: YIN 7 of 16
    dressed ying

    Ten minute discussion with son about why footed superhero pajamas can't be worn to school, ten minute discussion with daughter about why her glitter horse shirt doesn't go with every skirt she owns and should be washed every few days anyway. Lose argument, send kids to school in footed superhero pajamas and stinky, stained, purple and red glitter horse shirt paired with blue plaid skort.

  • GETTING DRESSED: YANG 8 of 16
    dressed yang

    No discussion, send them in whatever they want. Save 20 minutes.

  • MAKING DINNER: YIN 9 of 16
    cooking ying

    Sniff and peer hawk-like at food and expiration dates for any sign of expiration or green fuzz. Use safe products to make a balanced meal, letting older child pour room temperature ingredients and younger one stir with your hand over his. Give them both pizza after they refuse to eat any of it.

  • MAKING DINNER: YANG 10 of 16
    cooking yang

    Sniff nothing, let kids choose ingredients as long as one is meat, give older kid chopping knife and let younger have bowl on floor to stir with his Elmo puppet. If there are no emergency room trips, give them both pizza after they refuse to eat any of it.

  • TRANSPORTATION: YIN 11 of 16
    carseat ying

    Strap them in car seats, making sure straps are tight. Windows are allowed to be cracked unless someone puts any part of their body outside it, after which they are up and locked. Music on low unless there is screaming in which case sound off and locked. Get distracted at their screams of injustice anyway and run over most curbs and medians.

  • TRANSPORTATION: YANG 12 of 16
    vespa yang

    Toss kids in car, start moving as they play musical chairs. Open any and all windows, blast the music. But Dad music: Taylor Swift is eschewed for Oasis.  Happily ignore their screams of injustice. If wife is not looking, take them on the Vespa.

  • MONITORING MEDIA: YIN 13 of 16
    computer ting

    Put passwords on all computers, withhold phones until 16 at which point allow them only dialing abilities to yourself and 911. Check all television shows and movies on Common Sense Media. Watch in horror as your six-year-old picks up twerking by osmosis anyway.

  • MONITORING MEDIA: YANG 14 of 16
    computer yang

    Take them outside.

  • ARTS AND CRAFTS: YIN 15 of 16
    art ying

    Give them smocks, cover everything in tarp, lay out crayons, markers and chalk carefully. Try to explain the color charts and principles of shading to them. When asked to demonstrate, get laughed out of the playroom with my freakish lack of talent.

  • ARTS AND CRAFTS: YANG 16 of 16
    arts yang

    Hands and paint. Encourage Jackson Pollock-like freedom of movement. Strip down and make your own wall mural.   

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