Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pruetts Don't Quite Deliver on How Men and Women Parent Differently

Kyle and Marsha Pruett, well-known family researchers, have a popular new book aimed at parents. Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently - Why It Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage begins with some promising research-based accounts of how fathers and mothers tend to approach raising children differently. The chapter called "Cuddling vs. the Football Hold," on how mothers and fathers hold babies, is particularly interesting. In later chapters, though, they pay less and less attention to complementary differences between fathers and mothers, and more and more on general, sensible parenting advice.

At the heart of the book is the Pruetts' contention that children have a relationship with their parents as a team, as well as with each parent. This is sound and important. They return often to the theme that the couple needs to work out a common plan in raising children, even while preserving their differences. This is also quite sound. They hint that research shows a pattern to these differences - fathers tending one way, mothers another. They offer even more tantalizing hints that these differences tend to be complementary. But the message that the parents need to present a united front overwhelms what is more interesting to me - just how men and women tend to differ in raising kids.

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