What’s Wrong With The “Dad Way” of Doing Things?


Military dads come to parenting in their own way.  This week on Kit Up, a new dad has repurposed a tactical “go bag” as a man-appropriate diaper bag for his new baby. The guy thinks he is all set.  Or maybe he thinks this is a big joke and would never be caught wearing a diaper bag of any kind—go bag or no bag.

I’m just hoping his wife looks at this little exercise and sees the big secret to military dadship.  In every military family, we know there is a Dad Way to do things and a Mom Way to do things.  We also know if you want that military dad involved with his kids, the mom hasta develop an appreciation for the Dad Way of doing things.  Otherwise, she is going to be doing things the mom way all by herself.

That appreciation takes some time to grow. Because the military dad way of doing things often seems like the wrong way to do things.  Hence this giant bag.  These are the things I do appreciate about the military dad way of doing things in our family:

Military dads don’t want to break anything.  My husband is always ginger when handling a new baby.  Apparently, the Dad Way to deal with a baby is to pretend it is a nuclear weapon about to explode. The Mom Way of doing things is to support the head and let the rest of it fend for itself.

Military dads believe in preparation.  The dad way of traveling cross-country at Christmas requires the kind of preparation that would allow us to live in Donner Pass for three years. The mom way of doing things requires a single credit card.  They have stores everywhere we are going.

Military dads have standards.  The Dad Way of doing things is that rooms should be cleaned every Saturday (that’s his idea of slacker paradise.)  The Mom Way of doing things requires that you only set rules you personally can enforce.

Military dads are allowed to spoil.  My husband thinks that because he is gone so frequently, he should be allowed to provide treats for the kids whenever it occurs to him.  So the Dad Way of doing things is to buy ice cream cones on sunny afternoons even when children just had a popsicle half an hour ago.  The Mom Way of doing things is to say, “He bought you WHAT??!!  You are so lucky!  Your dad totally spoils you!”  The Kid Way is to smile that smile of being totally taken care of by two fabulous people.

It works for us. It sure seems to work for our kids.  Do you have a Dad Way and a Mom Way at your house?  How is that working for you? We want your ideas!


Navy wife Jacey Eckhart is Editor of SpouseBuzz and author of I Married a Spartan??  The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage available on iTunes, Amazon, and on www.jaceyeckhart.com.

About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at JaceyEckhart.net.
  • TLM

    Interesting article. I have to disagree with all those about it being “military” dads.

    I did not grow up affiliated with the military, however, my father acted just like all of those! ….Maybe it’s a “man” thing rather than a “military” dad thing. It’s just more noticeable when one parent is always absent!

  • I also have to disagree with all those about it being “military” dads. I don’t perceive my husband that way at all (though, admittedly, I’ve never had the honor of seeing my husband with a baby, as he’s parenting my 2 boys as stepdad).. My husband is rarely focused on being prepared for the kids, except when we’re packing to go camping (then, he’s the one toting the kitchen sink and extra duct tape). I’m normally the one with the kitchen sink (and a change of clothes and an emergency kit) even if we’re just going driving around the state for the day (away from home).
    My husband doesn’t really focus on cleaning anything, except his man-space in the garage… he does have the kids do chores, but it’s not a regular thing. I do tend to choose my battles more, where as he believes he’s the adult and the kids will obey, at all costs.
    Neither of us are really the spoiling type, though we do allow the kids to choose something fun some times just in general.

  • Danielle Fields

    My husband repurposed a large camelpak as a diaper bag. Diapers, first aid kit, wipes, extra clothes, antiseptic hand cleaner, bug repellant, sunscreen and obviously water. As long as he was prepared I didnt have to carry a thing. :)