Father's Day reminds me of the importance of a father in every child's life, and also of my relationship with my own father. When I think of parenting roles, I realize that fathers and mothers parent together but at the same time often with a slightly "different" style. I think this is due to distinct male/female differences, whether we want to acknowledge that or not. There is a chromosomal difference. From an early age, I can remember that my own father was my biggest cheerleader. He thought everything I did was precocious and cute, except for all of the times I misbehaved!! He was also the disciplinarian in our house, it was the era of "wait till your father gets home". Despite the fact that he was left with the job of spanking us (back in the day), he was also the father that could write me tender letters and give me advice about school, boys and help me with calculus homework when I had no clue what was going on. He could also convince my mother that I needed yet a different dress for a dance, despite the fact that I surely already had one that would be adequate. Being his "punkin" taught me early on to go to Dad for really important things. He was quick to discipline us, and ran a very strict house, but at the same time he could suprirse you and say yes to so many things. He is also the reason that I am a doctor. He taught me (and my brother) that we could be successful in whatever field we chose if we would work hard and stay focused. He never doubted our abilities and he was there to encourage us every step of the way. At the same time, he set the bar high and we "knew" not to disappoint. In my own home, my husband was the first to say "no" to our children. His famous line is "I always said NO first", but he was also the one who would back peddle and say yes. He truly is the softer of us. I learned along the way that parenting involves a lot of "good cop, bad cop" and I think on a daily basis mothers are often are the "bad cop". I guess it depends which parent is the primary caretaker, as that parent will inevitably be the one who deals with more day to day issues and often wears more hats. Fathers seem to be able to "swoop" in for the big issues and resolve them in a less emotional and more rational matter, at least that is the case in our testosterone laden house of 3 sons. Over the years I have learned that while fathers may be men of fewer words, they are also taken seriously when they do talk. While Dad may make the message "short and sweet" our children know he means business and respect him for that. Dads are also good listeners and then follow up with good advice which is often laid out in easily understood terms. As I would ramble on, my husband would say, "cut to the chase, you are losing them!" While father's roles may differ from a mother's, the most important fact is that children need both a father and a mother. Each parent may offer a different set of ears for listening, a different perspective on a problem, a different way to discipline or a different set of talents. Thank God for strong and loving father's who despite having a deeper voices also have those big laps and loving arms to wrap around their children! Happy Father's Day! Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!