Are You The Fun Parent?

Are You The Fun Parent? April 13, 2024

Are you a fun parent? | photo by studioroman on

Are You the Fun Parent?


In my work as a parent coach, I often hear moms say, “I am not the fun parent.” In fact, a 2012 study suggests that fathers spend their time with their children playing primarily whereas mothers’ time is predominately spent on caregiving.  

And, another study shows that dads do more rough-and-tumble play with kids while moms participate in structured play with their children, despite mothers valuing the benefits of play for child development more than fathers. So, whether you fall into the stereotypes that studies show or not, how do you become not, “the” fun parent, but a fun parent? So that your children can have two fun parents.

What is a Fun Parent?

Though it doesn’t always happen this way, moms often feel like the boring task masters of the families, leaving dads to be the “fun parent” or more playful one. 

This idea is depicted well in the Bluey episode called “The Pool.” Mum wants Bluey to brush her teeth and Dad to pack the pool supplies, all considered boring by Dad and the girls. When they get to the pool and realize they didn’t pack the “boring” stuff the play isn’t as fun and they have real needs that aren’t met. Mum shows up to the rescue with all the “boring” bits and then the fun begins. 

If you watch the last bit carefully, you will notice that Mum is participating in lots of the play as well. Bluey does a great job of making sure that Mum is playful, but in her own way. At first glance we may mistake Dad as the playful one, but both have different playful ways about themselves.

Definition of Play

Often we have very particular ideas of what play is or isn’t. My very simple definition is anything that allows you to experience the goodness of God and his blessings. Others describe it as anything that brings you joy. It may be painting, running, or even a cup of hot tea. It doesn’t need to be games.

For more on play check out this post and this post.

Story of a “Not-fun Parent” Turned Playful Mom

Kayla was one of my podcast listeners. When we hopped on a Zoom call together, she told me how she never felt like a fun mom. Her husband was much more playful than she was. It made her sad and she felt like the little playful things she did were not enough.

Until she listened to episode 17 of Playfully Faithful Parenting where I shared about the play personalities. She recognized herself and her husband in different play personalities and it sparked something in her. 

She felt playful and more confident in the ways she engaged and played with her kids. It released her from shame and allowed her to experience more joy in her parenting. By the end of our call, she was confident in her being a fun parent, even if it looked different than her husband’s parenting.

Play Personalities

In Dr. Stuart Brown’s book Play :How It Shapes the Brain Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, he describes eight different play personalities. From a Christian perspective, these are eight unique ways that God designed us to play and enjoy life.

We typically relate to one as our primary play personality and one or two others as secondary.

These play personalities are:

  1. Explorer – loves to learn and discover new things
  2. Artist/Creator – enjoys creating things, including but not limited to art, photography, or inventions
  3. Kinesthete – finds joy in moving their body
  4. Competitor – competition brings fun to their life
  5. Director – has a vision and enjoys bringing it to fruition
  6. Storyteller – finds fulfillment and joy in sharing stories through a variety of media
  7. Joker – loves to make others laugh and enjoys a good prank, joke, or giggle
  8. Collector – collecting, displaying, and sharing that collection with others brings enjoyment

Understanding which ways God designed her to play helped Kayla live into her playfulness. She was also more confident in her identity as a fun or playful parent. 

Which ones resonate with you?

Can You Be A Fun Parent?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10 NIV

Being a fun parent can go in a lot of directions. It doesn’t have to look like the Dad from Bluey, doing Pinterest crafts, or rough-and-tumble wrestling matches. It can be worship dance parties in the kitchen, silly “amens” at the end of prayers, or even stories and songs at bedtime. 

The important thing is that you are modeling an abundant life with Jesus and inviting your kids into it along the way.

About Joy Wendling, MA
Enthusiastic. Passionate. Profound. Joy Wendling is a family pastor, writer, speaker, podcaster, certified parent coach, and founder of Created to Play. She has over 20 years of experience in children, youth, and family ministry, as well as a Master’s in Youth, Family, and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary. She also is certified in Connected Families Parent Coaching and Parenting for Faith. Her idea of relaxing is gazing at the mountains from her island home with an ice-cold Diet Coke and a good book. Joy lives in the Pacific Northwest and enjoys laughing and playing with her five daughters and husband. Get to know her better at and on her podcast titled Playfully Faithful Parenting. You can read more about the author here.

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