are fathers equal to mothers?

(231 Posts)
tittytittyhanghang Mon 28-Jan-13 22:33:12

Regarding parenting babies/toddlers. I thought they were? If a mother and father are no longer together they surely it is important and right for that child to maintain an equal relationship with both parents (given that both parents love the child and want as deep and loving relationship with the child as possible). Bars breastfeeding then, i dont understand how mothers are somehow superior to fathers and a baby/toddler 'needs' to be around the mother at all times, (I actually find this argument deeply insulting to mothers who have went back to work and left their babies in the care of childminders etc) whereas it would only need to be around the father a couple of hours a week. AIBU to think this is more to do with the mothers insecurities and that in fact a baby would be cope fine spending more than a couple of hours/overight with the father.

This probably is a thread about a good few threads i've read on mn, so flme me if you feel the need but im a bit irked (and shocked) that the likes of this can be said - 'That aside don't talk about your rights as you don't have any, she as the childs mother & primary carer calls the shots so the sooner you get your head round that the better you'll get along.' and hardly anyone challenges it.

McNewPants2013 Mon 28-Jan-13 22:36:56

My husband and I are equals to our children.

If we ever split up, we will still be equal

DamnBamboo Mon 28-Jan-13 22:37:43


hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Mon 28-Jan-13 22:38:54

My father was more of a mother than my mum ever was.

badguider Mon 28-Jan-13 22:39:30

I do think they can be equal but I also think they often are not.

If the mother has taken time off work for the first months of the baby's life then it takes some time and hard work for the father to 'make up' that time so that the child is equally attached to both parents.

ReallyTired Mon 28-Jan-13 22:41:21

Fathers can't breastfeed. They can do everything else though.

A breastfed baby only wants its mummy when its hungry. I imagine that most children develop a closer attachment to their primary carer. However that primary carer can be either the father or the mother.

If a couple splits up then access needs to be decided on what is best for the child. A child is not trophy to be fought over.

For a breastfeed baby over night access is completely out of the question. However there is no reason that a three year old cannot spend a few days with dad.

StuntGirl Mon 28-Jan-13 22:42:04

YANBU. They should be.

tittytittyhanghang Mon 28-Jan-13 22:44:25

So im not on my own in thinking this? Or are we in the minority, because honestly thats how it feels.

McNewPants2013 Mon 28-Jan-13 22:45:32

Fathers can't breastfeed

Yes they can, it takes alot of work but it is possible

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 22:47:20

Yes but a baby doesnt actually have to BF, or exclusivley BF though.
Dad can give bottles.
If a couple have split up - very soon after the baby is born or during the pregnacy it " could" be discussed that the baby be FF to give the dad opportunity to also have baby over night or expressed of course.

tittytittyhanghang Mon 28-Jan-13 22:47:36

RT, thats why i said bars breastfed dc, i understand the logistics don't work! But other than that, I can't get my head around this fact that so many babies/toddlers wont cope overnight/more than a few hours away from their mum, whilst in the care of their father, considering the amount of babies who go to chilminders/nurseries, which leads me to suspect it has less to do with how the dc feels, and more how the mother feels.

IneedAsockamnesty Mon 28-Jan-13 22:47:47

If they both provide equal care and equal support then of course they are equal parents

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 22:49:20

Why bar BF babies?
Babies dont need to be BF. They can have expressed or FF in bottles.

tittytittyhanghang Mon 28-Jan-13 22:49:46

Although for the fathers sake, if breastfeeding, i would certainly expect to try expressed milk to allow the dc to spend more time with the father.

YANBU. They should be equal. I guess I'm another one who's surprised at the number of posts on various threads regarding parents who have separated that say mum is more important, dcs shouldn't spend overnights with their dad...that it would be "upsetting" for dcs to be away from mum...etc.
I'm speaking as someone who would love her ds's to be able to spend time with their dad, but he was taken from us nearly nine years ago.

tittytittyhanghang Mon 28-Jan-13 22:52:01

Sorry cross post eliza. I'll probably get flamed for this but im all for breastfeeding but not at the expense of the nrp (usually father) not getting to spend sufficent amount of time with dc. I would think that a compromise should be made whether that be expressed or mixed bf/ff.

WorraLiberty Mon 28-Jan-13 22:53:27

It's a funny old world really.

Women have been fighting for years to change other women's stereotypical view of men and to help their DDs/other women to learn to expect more in terms of equal parenting.

Unlike when my 81yr old Dad was a young parent, more men are taking active hands on roles in their children's lives...starting right from being present at the birth, taking paternity leave, taking over night feeds (where possible), changing nappies, bathing etc...etc..

In other words...finally men are stepping up to the plate because they're no longer expected to breeze in from work to dinner on the table and happy, smiley kids in the PJs kissing them goodnight.

Yet (and here's the thing) no matter how equal some men are in their parenting, there are still far too many women who see a Father's role as inferior to the Mother's, especially if the parents split up.

And a lot of these women are not in their 80's...far from it.

A good parent is a good parent, regardless of their sex.

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 22:54:06

yes - to my children anyway - the adore their father and he them - whatever happened between us as adults (he left me for somebody else) I never lost sight of that - he was a shit husband but he is a good dad

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 22:55:20

yes but he would be feeding from the breast via a bottle just not with the breast nipple.

ReallyTired Mon 28-Jan-13 22:57:34

I think it would be absolutely unreasonable to expect a mother to give up exclusive breastfeeding of a baby under one just so that Dad can have access over night. I suppose that Dad could bottlefeed expressed milk assuming the baby is prepared to take a bottle.

", i dont understand how mothers are somehow superior to fathers and a baby/toddler 'needs' to be around the mother at all times, (I actually find this argument deeply insulting to mothers who have went back to work and left their babies in the care of childminders etc) whereas it would only need to be around the father a couple of hours a week. "

Leaving a baby at nursery is hellish for the first few months. Babies at nursery often do scream horribly for the first few months. Seperation anxiety can be utterly horrific in babies. When I left my baby in a nursery at eight months I used to cry on the way to work because I knew she was crying.

Leaving a baby overnight is different to leaving a child at day nursery for ten hours. Many working mothers try to keep the amount of time the baby spends in childcare as short as possible.

In our house, yes. There is nothing that one of us cannot do with/for DD that the other can. We each do equal childcare round our shifts and manage our days off together well too (tag teaming it).

If we god forbid ever split we will do a week on / week off system.

I.know families where the mother hasnt even ever left their dc with their own dad for a night out or a class or work. Their own father has never took them out on their own or had to do any lone one-on-one care.

Pleasesleep Mon 28-Jan-13 22:57:56

Mm but Eliza, being BF is quantifiably better than being FF. so surely it's not better for the dc to spend over nights with dad if they then have to be FF?
Also, isn't it better for a child to form a strong bond with one person I.e have a primary career? I'm sure I've read that somewhere...n
Overnights aren't necessary for a good relationship anyway, but I agree dad should get regular time with baby/ dc

McNewPants2013 Mon 28-Jan-13 22:59:32

Worra very well said.

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:01:46

yes but does the mother have to give up the breast feeding?
Cant she express for the night?

if they " both" wanted the baby BF.

What if dad was fine with FF too?

The woman surely cant use BF agaisnt him?

Isnt it a decsion they " both" make? To BF or not - and if they both say yes - BF then she can express.

If a man wants his XP to formula feed rather than breastfeed just so that he can have more contact with the child, that makes him a selfish prick whose contact should be kept to the minimum possible, because it demonstrates that he is more interested in his 'rights' - and in making life difficult and upsetting for his XP - than in the child's wellbeing. A decent man who wants to be a good father, despite not wanting to pursue a couple-relationship with a baby's mother, will put the child's wellbeing and the mother's wellbeing ahead of his own and agree to regular short spells of contact, building up gradually as the child becomes less dependent on the breast. When it comes to newborns, the father is less important - unfortunately, because there are still so many men who consider themselves inherently more important than women in every way, this is why a lot of relationships go wrong and break up when there's a baby in the house.

fruitloops3 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:02:44

Yes, both parents are equal. However, I'm told that many courts still rule in favour of the mother where there is no clear reason to rule either way.

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:03:29

Sorry Really only just saw you mentioned the bottle. I think if a bottle is introduced early enough baby will take the bottle.

tittytittyhanghang Mon 28-Jan-13 23:04:52

Leaving a baby at nursery is hellish for the first few months. Babies at nursery often do scream horribly for the first few months. Seperation anxiety can be utterly horrific in babies. When I left my baby in a nursery at eight months I used to cry on the way to work because I knew she was crying.

But the point is you persevered because I assume you needed to go to work? I would think a child spending time with it's father would be an even more important and justified reason than going to work, and so should also be perservered.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Mon 28-Jan-13 23:05:37

It's a stupid question. Your gender doesn't determine how good a parent you are/can be.

If a relationship breaks down it though I think small children need stability, which can mean that they spend more time with one parent in one home rather than a strict 50:50 split of time.

My DH is a full time Dad so I imagine if we ever split up he would be in a stronger position to be the RP.

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:05:59


Shouldnt the desicion to BF have come from them both though and if it didnt - and the ex wants the baby - the baby can simply be bottle fed - expressed milk!

What I mean is the baby still has the breast milk - but from the dad via a bottle.

5madthings Mon 28-Jan-13 23:08:12

Not all babies will take a bottle, not all mums can express.

My dp has always been very hands on and involved but feeding had to be done by me when they were bfed.

In the UK courts don't seem to order overnight contact under 12mths regardless of feeding method, no idea of if there is many research behind that tho?

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:08:25


" Seperation anxiety can be utterly horrific in babies. When I left my baby in a nursery at eight months I used to cry on the way to work because I knew she was crying."

You mean for you though? All babies cry and you have no idea about the babies seperation anxiety. Its more hard for the parent - the baby needs some one to comfort and cuddle long as they get that from anywhere - ie at nursery or from dad - they wil be fine.

LadyWidmerpool Mon 28-Jan-13 23:08:49

Wild horses wouldn't have got my baby to take a bottle and it would have taken days to express enough milk for a night of cluster feeding. Expressing isn't necessarily a magic answer.

5madthings Mon 28-Jan-13 23:09:23

Eliza its really not that simple reexpressing and giving a bottle, for some babies it us but for many its not.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Mon 28-Jan-13 23:10:05

YANBU. Not at all. I find all the posters that think babies have to be with their mothers at all times very sexist. I think babies and children should automatically be cared for 50/50 unless there are exceptional circumstances.

I find it very confused when women (or men) limit access to DC's to spite the other parent.

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:10:36

5mad - loads of babies are fed by bottle straight off and are fine.

Babies will survive if they are not BF - they can survive on FF!!

People have also said when they have had trouble after a few months when they first introduce the bottle - that when baby is hungry enough they soon learn.

5madthings Mon 28-Jan-13 23:10:44

Babies don't just bfeed for food as well its for comfort etc and they often cluster feed etc all problems retaking an ebf baby away from its mother.

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:11:31

As if expressing and bottle feeding is a simple option grin

They can be equal, but mostly they aren't (in terms of babies at least). Mothers tend to bond first with newborns are they carry them and breastfeed them. Mothers take long maternity leaves and are the baby's primary carer. And yes, I think babies do need their primary carer more.

After the baby stage though, there's no reason why a father can't be an equal parent if they put in equal time and effort.

Whether or not the parents are "equal" in terms of care of the child is going to depend so much on circumstances. In the case of say, a 4 month old who is cared for 90% of its waking hours by the mother, then the mother is going to be more important to that baby and if the parents split, then any contact arrangement should acknowledge that.

In the case of a 4 year old who goes to school, both parents work and do 50% of the care each - if that couple split then retaining a 50/50 split is likely to be in the child's interests.

BertieBotts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:11:46

Mothers and fathers are equal, of course, unless one parent is an abusive douchebag. Since people don't tend to post when they have happy set-ups I would imagine that most posters who are experiencing conflict over access do have abusive exes since it's extremely common for the ex-partner to try to use the children to continue controlling the PWC in these situations.

That's what the majority of threads I see on here come across as, anyway, and in those cases where the father (sorry to generalise but if you're going off threads here, the majority are mothers as it's a female dominated side) is banging on about his "rights" it's not because he genuinely misses his DC but because he feels entitled. In those cases it's correct to remind the OP that parents don't have "rights" towards their children, they have responsibilities. Part of those responsibilities is sometimes accepting that something you would rather not happen, has to happen for the good of the child. I'd be utterly devestated if I was suddenly told I could only see DS at weekends, but if it was the only option that made sense for DS then of course I'd take it even if it broke my heart.

5madthings Mon 28-Jan-13 23:11:49

Bfedbabies don't always take a bottle just because bottle fed babies do just mean a bfed baby will our can.

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:11:52

but surely 5 mad if you do it off the bat the baby knows nothing else?

BertieBotts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:13:10

So you mean expressing from birth just in case you split from your partner? What a waste of time and energy!

5madthings Mon 28-Jan-13 23:13:49

Actually no even at two days old ds1 wouldn't take a bottle and its not recommended anyway for 6 wks whilst establishing breeding for many reasons.

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:14:59

Sorry no I mean if you are pregnant and seperated from the DF, but he wants equal access.

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:16:38

I find it hard to believe any good father would demand their newborn was separated from its mother just so he can have equal access.

5madthings Mon 28-Jan-13 23:16:46

They still won't always accept a bottle, I was going back to uni when ds1was three weeks old so tried bottles from day two, I could express easily but he wouldn't take one and believe me we tried!

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:18:26

Ok, but if the baby wasnt BF and did take a bottle there is no reason why it cant be with its dad!

pippinsmum Mon 28-Jan-13 23:18:53

I am prepared to be flamed for this by no I don't think fathers and mothers are equal.

When a man can carry a baby inside him for 9 months then yes they will be equal. There is no way in this world I would let my small baby be apart from me for 24 hours at a time. Aithough I would not stop the father from seeing baby I just don't feel small babies should be away from their mothers for long periods.

5madthings Mon 28-Jan-13 23:20:25

Well the courts don't insist on it so maybe there is a reason for that.

Fwiw I ended up bottlwfeeding no 5 dp could feed her but he couldn't get her to go to sleep!

MiniTheMinx Mon 28-Jan-13 23:20:45

>>YANBU. Not at all. I find all the posters that think babies have to be with their mothers at all times very sexist

I think men that think they can insist on FF the baby because it suits are selfish.

I FF both of mine, my body my choice, DP had no say in this and had he have not been living under the same roof, he would have still had no say in this.

CaptainNancy Mon 28-Jan-13 23:22:09

You know what, I would never ever ever spend all my time with a newborn trying to express and forcing my newborn to take a bottle just so that it's father who fucked off when I was pg could have equal access. Any 'father' who acts that entitled is definitely not equal to me.

The first few days/weeks/months of a baby's life are far too precious and important to its development to waste stressing over feeding.

LauraPashley Mon 28-Jan-13 23:23:34

Eliza do you have children? Your posts read as if you don't, eg:

Shouldnt the desicion to BF have come from them both though and if it didnt - and the ex wants the baby - the baby can simply be bottle fed - expressed milk!!

There is no such thing as "simply" giving expressed milk for many mothers and babies, for a wide variety of reasons.

"baby needs some one to comfort and cuddle long as they get that from anywhere - ie at nursery or from dad - they wil be fine."

And that bit is just crap, sorry!

MiniTheMinx Mon 28-Jan-13 23:24:06

pippinsmum thank heavens I am not alone smile

Mothers and Fathers parent children differently, that is not to say that it is not complimentary, just different. I can't remember how many weeks it is but for the first few a baby believes it is not separate to the mother.

sydlexic Mon 28-Jan-13 23:24:15

I think that it is possible for them to be equal but they mostly are not. I know many divorced couples where the DF had very little involvement in the DCs lives when they were a couple but want 50/50 after the split.

HopAndSkip Mon 28-Jan-13 23:24:31

It depends. In my parents case, my dad was much more of a parent to me and Dsis. So no, if they had split up we would have wanted to live with him, not have a 50/50 split. So I wouldn't class my mum as equal

But then some fathers also don't put the effort in to be classed as a parent and just expect rights from donating a sperm, and sitting back while the mum does all the work, so no in those 2 cases, they are not equal.

If both put in equal effort and care, then they are equal. If not, then they aren't. Pretty simple really. smile

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:25:00

the feeding may be a red herring - if you assume the baby is FF - whats the difference!!!!

if for some reason the parents were split up - why cant baby spend 50% of time being FF by mum - then going to dads to be also FF and cared for.

If the parents are split up - but dad gets in with the bonding right from the get go - whats the problem?

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:25:58

ooops I feel I am hijaking tittys post...will keep quiet now! blush

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 23:28:00

What I don't get is why you have to have a Primary Carer.

It's like saying you have to have a First Language- no, you don't actually, my children have heard two languages since they were born and started speaking in two languages the moment they started speaking at all.

Same with the caring. When dc were small, I fed them and dh changed nappies and cuddled them after the feed. They bonded with both of us.

We would both have been reluctant to do anything that upset the breastfeeding in the early days. But I still don't see why that one aspect of all the required baby care makes me the primary carer.

So yes to keeping a small baby close to the milk supply.

But no to the whole idea that Mother (whether breastfeeding or not) has to be the one and only Primary Carer.

YANBU at all. I contemplated starting this thread tonight.

DD2 is 10 weeks old. She is formula fed. On day 5 the MW came round and told me that I must do all the feeds. It disgusted me. A silver lining of not breast feeding, in my eyes, was that DD2 could bond with her dad while feeding too.

My ex (DD1s dad) is a complete arsehole to me. But hes a good dad to DD1 in general. It would make my life easier if he wasnt in it. But thats out of my hands. Hes her other parent and he has just as much say as I do.

FWIW DD1 went on over night stays from 6 months. I didnt like it. But it was best for DD1.

BertieBotts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:29:43

It's different with newborns and younger toddlers. It's not about sex or hormones or anything - if (OK ridiculously hypothetical situation but anyway) a man was in the position of bringing up his child from newborn - say the mother decided to have the child adopted but he agreed to look after it and she was happy with this - and then she wanted access then no, it shouldn't be 50/50. It should build up slowly.

It's just about development - if you look at the way children develop attachment, they develop an attachment to one person first and only later develop attachments outside of this. It is ridiculous to suggest that the baby can be separated out like a possession - it's not a library book to be loaned out for set periods, it's not a pizza to be divided down the middle - it's a person. If two people want an equal input into that tiny child's life when they're newborn then they both need to be there where the baby lives - if this isn't possible then they need to work out between them what would be best for the child - not worrying about what's "fair" for the adults. TBH, grow up. It's a horrendous situation to be in as a parent, but as a parent, you're not important - the child is, and they need to have a stable base. With a very young child that means having one place where they live and sleep and another place for visits and sleepovers if they're old enough and familiar enough with the place to be confident staying away from home.

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:31:28

Because generally, one parent does the majority of the care.

It is possible for parents to do equal amounts of care, but I'd say that is very unusual in the first 6 months. Still fairly unusual for a good while after that.

I'd say DH and I are equal carers now to DS (2.5) and if we split a 50/50 split of care would be best for DS. However, when he was 2 months old, or even 12 months old, I was definitely the primary carer and being separated from me would have been distressing for DS.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 23:33:57

BertieBotts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:29:43

"It's just about development - if you look at the way children develop attachment, they develop an attachment to one person first and only later develop attachments outside of this."

So how does this work in families like ours where the father does live with the family and does half the babycare? Does the baby know it's supposed to only form an attachment to one of the people cuddling it and supplying its needs? I wonder if mine really knew that? I never saw any signs that mine knew.

flow4 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:36:56

All parents are equal, but some are more equal than others. grin

Kiwiinkits Mon 28-Jan-13 23:38:07

I don't think babies respond to being hauled around from place to place, with different routines, different people, different smells. I think it's downright disgusting to expect them to adjust to that sort of lifestyle for people who want to assert 'rights' over them. If you want to share access to a young baby, FGS, do it in a way that the baby gets to stay in his own home on his own terms. I've heard of a lot of couples who arrange things so that Dad comes to stay for a weekend and Mum discretely leaves the house so they can have time together.

I was happy to leave my babies with a nanny/CM when they were 4 months for most of a day. And I did leave them with their Dad for long periods, from time to time, when I needed to work (he brought them to me for breastfeeds). But I do think overnight is different: it's a lonnnnnnng time.

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:38:10

It's possible that a baby would form two equal primary attachments if two people are doing equal caring/feeding/interacting in the early days and weeks. But a fairly unusual situation.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 23:39:22

I am not at all disputing that the OP on the other thread was the primary carer and that this should be taken into account when working out access arrangements.

Just wondering if Bertie really is right and babies have to form attachments to one person at a time.

BertieBotts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:39:52

I was just reading up on it because it's been a while since I studied it and you're right cory - babies develop attachments to their main carers between the ages of 6-24 months which would include mothers and fathers (and extended family, siblings etc if they have great input into care and/or live with the family) and it can be any number of people but there needs to be consistent carers - extreme example, but children brought up in orphanages even if the staff were responsive did not develop healthy attachment patterns where there were large numbers of different staff.

Most people have observed that babies tend to be happier with their mother/father/main carer than, say, grandparents even if they see them regularly.

Kiwiinkits Mon 28-Jan-13 23:40:17

Big difference between 4 months and 9 months and a year, I reckon. Overnights at 1 year = fine. 4 months = NOT fine. too young.

BertieBotts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:40:49

Google Bowlby - AFAIK his theories are still well-respected and they're very easy to digest on wikipedia etc.

MiniTheMinx Mon 28-Jan-13 23:41:25

Attachment theory suggests that babies need to form an attachment first to one primary care giver.

Some information here

Some social scientists propose that the child attaches to the person who feeds it and that is a leant response. Other's like Bowlby put forward an evolutionary theory that says that children need care and security.

More and more children are being diagnosed with attachment disorders.

WorraLiberty Mon 28-Jan-13 23:41:54

So overnight is a 'lonnnnnng time' but 8 to 10 hours in a nursery or with a CM isn't?

I can't believe some people don't bat an eyelid at that...yet feel it would do a baby no good to spend the night with a loving and capable parent.

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:42:16

Over night is a long time Kiwi when they are asleep and dont know where the hell they are!

having a toddler in a routine is one thing - to then suddenly change it - but arranging equally divided care from the start of a NB - I dont see the difference - it wil get used to the dads place - where it sleeps there etc - being fed by dad and the mums place as well.

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:42:50

I suspect that babies forming simultaneous primary attachments is unusual enough that there haven't been significant observations. The norm is that babies form their first attachment to the person who feeds, holds, makes eye contact with, interacts with them in their early weeks/months, and I'm pretty sure in 99% of families this will be the mother.

HannahsSister40 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:42:51

lol, I wonder how many people idling wondering why a baby needs to have a 'primary carer' after a divorce have ever gone through a divorce and access issues? Not very many, I expect. I know several people who started out down the divorce path amicably and it ended up not quite so amicable.
My belief is that babies/children need one permanent fixed base with the primary carer and access visits with the other parent. 50/50 sounds very idealistic, but I'm not convinced it's in the best interests of the child.
In the best interests of the adults, perhaps. One primary residence only.

MiniTheMinx Mon 28-Jan-13 23:42:54

Sorry, loads of typos Very tired, off to bed.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 23:43:46

That makes sense, Bertie. smile

So dh and I could both be main carers, which explains why they never showed any distress when he was caring for them, but swanning off and leaving them with a distant relative (or in hospital, as used to happen in my childhood sad) would be a different matter.

The other thing that often comes up on these threads is the distress of the mother when she is away from her baby. But for a bonded father, I don't think it's any different, really. I always knew dh found it hard to be away from them.

BertieBotts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:44:17

Also Bowlby did state that it didn't have to be the mother - his work was mainly in the 40s and 50s though so mothers would usually have been the caregivers then. He states that babies can develop secure attachments to a "permanent mother substitute" and in fact I think it was later research which confirmed babies can form attachments to multiple caregivers but they have to be very closely involved.

WorraLiberty Mon 28-Jan-13 23:46:01

More and more children are being diagnosed with attachment disorders

But surely that's down to more children being put into institutionalised care/left with CMs, due to both parents needing to work to survive?

And possibly down to the amount of divorce/remarriage compared to years ago?

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:46:22

Some studies have shown babies show attachment behaviour/preference towards the mother from 8 weeks Bertie, rather than the 6 months that was previously believed.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 23:47:22

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:42:50
"I suspect that babies forming simultaneous primary attachments is unusual enough that there haven't been significant observations. The norm is that babies form their first attachment to the person who feeds, holds, makes eye contact with, interacts with them in their early weeks/months, and I'm pretty sure in 99% of families this will be the mother. "

Good heavens- do you really believe that only 1% of fathers make eye contact and hold and interact with their babies in the early weeks! sad

That is one of the most shocking things I ever heard. So what do they do then with this small person who is suddenly living in their home? What is the experience of Mumsnetters here? Having grown up in a different culture, I find that almost impossible to believe- but I will take your word for it.

MiniTheMinx Mon 28-Jan-13 23:48:38

Doesn't have to be the mother, agree.

In the same way that we learn to read signals like the pitch when a child cries, facial expressions, hand signals and body movements, the baby also learns from your reaction which signals to make to illicit the response it requires. That really requires one carer.

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:48:38

I expect that only 1% of fathers do the majority/an equal amount of the feeding/holding/interaction in the early weeks.

WorraLiberty Mon 28-Jan-13 23:48:55

Well I've grown up with a British culture and I don't believe it for one minute cory

1% my arse.

shade78 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:49:49

In my head i hear my baby crying when I am away from her. Maybe the father can cope with it but she will always be wondering where her mother is no?

BertieBotts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:50:25

My ex generally ignored DS unless I instructed him to hold him, it was most bizarre. He is now an ex though. And doesn't see his son. His choice.

I expect that Sam wasn't saying that 99% of fathers don't make eye contact or hold their babies, though, but that in most families the mother does the majority of the care simply due to the fact that she's on maternity leave.

1% my arse.

Indeed. Such a load of tripe.

Men are really being underestimated and undermined.

elizaregina Mon 28-Jan-13 23:52:11

yes but from what age Mini? Most NB are asleep for weeks on end they only seem to start being more aware and waking up to the world from 3 months.

cory Mon 28-Jan-13 23:53:22

MiniTheMinx Mon 28-Jan-13 23:48:38

"In the same way that we learn to read signals like the pitch when a child cries, facial expressions, hand signals and body movements, the baby also learns from your reaction which signals to make to illicit the response it requires. That really requires one carer. "

Why can't it be two people, assuming that they are both responsive?

shade78 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:49:49
"In my head i hear my baby crying when I am away from her. Maybe the father can cope with it but she will always be wondering where her mother is no?"

In our case, they probably also wondered where their father was when he was at work. They didn't cry more on the days he looked after them than on the days I did.

SamSmalaidh Mon 28-Jan-13 23:53:41

In my family, and all the families I know, the fathers (good, interested, involved fathers) do nowhere near 50% of the feeding and bonding behaviour - yes of course they hold the baby, change nappies, do bath times etc. But it is the mother who spends the majority of the day with the baby, feeds it, does most/all the night wakings.

HopAndSkip Mon 28-Jan-13 23:53:46

If the couple is split before or soon after the birth though, you do need to bare in mind the risk of PND etc.

Later on ideally both should have equal roles, but the baby obviously shouldn't be taken away for long periods of time as soon as it's born after 9 months of bonding and carrying it so on. I would think most mums would agree with this surely though, if they think back to when their DC's were tiny babies.

The dad needs to spend as much time as he possibly can with the baby then, and once the inital couple of months have passed and the baby is happy to be with him alone, he should be doing equal amounts of parenting.

I had to leave my DD in hospital after 4 days, and I was in floods of tears the entire way home, and the majority of the night. It just feels wrong to be away from them so young, but her dad didn't bat an eyelid, he had the much more practical view of "She's got nurses there, they'll phone if she gets any worse"

Yfronts Mon 28-Jan-13 23:54:03

My babies spent the first 9 month in my tummy. I was all they were used to and they wanted to be on me and in my arms all the time. I BF for 2 years. Even now they always want me if they fall over or are upset. DH is also well connected to them and we both used slings as they grew up. Me more because I was around more. I was my kids primary attachment.

MiniTheMinx Mon 28-Jan-13 23:54:46

From personal experience I had two very different set ups and two very different results.

DS1 was made pass the parcel with lots of care from DP and also from my mother who doted on him. He was unsettled and has separation anxiety at 2 .5 years. Serious and reserved child.

DS2, second child, left to get on with it, DP only took a week off and I did everything. Calm, happy relaxed child, no separation issues later. Still very outgoing and confident.

That's not a study ! but I think the two approaches might have something to do with the result.

MiniTheMinx Mon 28-Jan-13 23:56:24

Cory, because no two people interact in the same way. It becomes even more confusing when you add in a third person.....the baby. It's basic probability.

WorraLiberty Mon 28-Jan-13 23:56:35

In my head i hear my baby crying when I am away from her. Maybe the father can cope with it but she will always be wondering where her mother is no?


Well no more than if she were left with a CM while you went to work.

If a baby is given the chance to bond with both parents, they'll bond with both parents.

Yes there'll be times they don't particularly want to go to the other one but then there'll be times they don't particularly want to go to nursery/CM/School etc.

cory Tue 29-Jan-13 00:02:31

I wonder, is it the 50% that matters or is it how much time you spend on bonding activities. Tbh even when dh worked more than 50%, he probably spent more real time cuddling his babies, talking to them, singing to them etc than some of my friends who were mothers but simply not that into that sort of thing. Not every mother is actually that good at interacting with babies.

Again, I keep thinking of the analogy with languages. It is often stated that children need to hear their two languages x % of the time to become bilingual. I always wonder x % of what? My db and SIL are bringing their children up monolingual, but they are quite frankly not very chatty: my dc have a larger vocabulary in both their languages, no doubt because I talk a lot. 50% of my talking time is a lot more than a 100% of SILs- and it shows.

Seeing how little some mothers interact with their children, I also suspect that 40% interaction time with dh was a good deal more than 100% with some mothers I knew.

Ds1 stayed over night with his dad from 6 months old and was fine. All of my dc have been fine when spending time with their dad. Even ds1 who saw less of his dad due to us being separated.

Both ds1&2 hated the first few weeks of being left at nursery though (both under a year old at the time) it was far more traumatic for them than spending time with dad

k1p1 Tue 29-Jan-13 00:09:33

Bertie, your earlier post was excellent. Parents should be equal, but all circumstances are different and each child too.

PariahHairy Tue 29-Jan-13 00:17:32

In my Children's eyes possibly not. They have all adored and wanted ME from the start, my Dp is a marvellous Dad and has from the beginning assumed as much responsibility as I have. He changed nappies and settled and put to bed etc, they still all want ME, fgs.

Even now at 9, 6, 3, they all prefer me, it's just a fact of life.

In other Families, it may be that the Father is the favoured one, there is nothing much you can do about this. Well there might be, but it would be hard work.

"Why can't it be two people, assuming that they are both responsive?"

People smell/taste/feel different, a lot of research was done via the old orphange set up and the deprortees, where various care givers saw to the baby's needs.

hardly anyone challenges it.

Father's groups constatnly challenge child law (where this fundamental bond is protected).

Academics then have to be carrying out on going research, which builds on what is already written, to show good reason why birth mothers and fathers are not given identical rights, in practicality (but in essence they are).

The studies are culturally crossed and different types feed into each other, so adopted orphans from other countries, in different aged sibling groups etc.

Some of the studies are around how we as adults form attachments to our baby's and talke that into account. It is a lot more in biological basement then an "insecurity".

I don't know how aware you are OP of the brain development that doesn't happen if attachment isn't formed and neglect takes place. The frontal lobe doesn't form etc. So a baby's needs not being met can cause brain defects, we do not yet know everything about healthy psychological development.

We know that a lot happens straight from birth and the 6 months theory is way off mark.

A lot of what we know is by getting it very wrong and not thinking it was important how many foster carers a baby had, as long as needs where met in other ways.

It has never been disputed that one Primary Carer is vital.

googlyeyes Tue 29-Jan-13 00:18:57

I really cannot see how 50/50 care (post relationship split) can ever be in the interests of a child unless it takes place at the child's main residence.
Such an arrangement can only ever be in the interests of the parents, who obviously both feel entitled to their 'share'

And I've rarely heard anything as shocking on here as someone suggesting a newborn baby is FF simply to allow the NRP to have overnight access. What a fucking joke. As someone said, what decent father would even contemplate such a thing??

As for babies knowing their mother and responding to her in a unique way, from my own experience I would say that was the case pretty much from birth. Makes sense when they have spent 9months inside you! That is a pretty major experience for both mother and baby which really shouldn't be negated in the name of political correctness.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Tue 29-Jan-13 00:24:19

Do posters who are saying that a 50/50 isn't good for DC's think that the carer who has primary care should normally be the woman and not the man confused

PariahHairy Tue 29-Jan-13 00:28:11

I would say that I am more physical with my kids, I'm always cuddling and eating them up. Chucking them about and loving every minute iyswim.

Dp is very formal with them, they very much enjoy the whole being chucked about and kissed and loved and tickled.

That is probably why they prefer me, more tactile.

googlyeyes Tue 29-Jan-13 00:37:04

Donteven, that's quite a leap you made there. Complete waste of a confused face!

50/50 is not fair to children, full stop. They should not be constantly switching between homes. That's not fair whether they're a small baby or a school age child who doesn't want to be split in two.

The gender of the parent they spend the majority of the time with is largely irrelevant, as long as that parent has been the primary carer. What sense would it make to have a child spend 50pc of the time at a working parent's house when there is a SAHP in the equation, for example?

"Do posters who are saying that a 50/50 isn't good for DC's think that the carer who has primary care should normally be the woman and not the man"

It isn't a question of should, but what usually happens, because women have to be signed off work to recover from birth (ignoring bf).

For a change in policy to take place, every man would have to be given extensive paternity leave, to give equal rights to all fathers.

Individually any family can do what they want, but for the courts to interfer with parenting from birth wouldn't be helpful.

It would need a full change in law, especially for unmarried couples.

"50/50 is not fair to children, full stop."

So it's more fair to deprive a child of time with one of their parents needlessly then?

"They should not be constantly switching between homes."

The alternative being what exactly? If the parents aren't together then the child should only be with one parent all the time?

Morloth Tue 29-Jan-13 04:06:09

What matters is what is best for the children.

They are not property to be shared.

Parents don't have rights, they have responsibilities.

No one arrangement is going to suit all families.

Both parents should have their children's welfare at the top of their list of priorities, not making sure they get their 'share'.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Tue 29-Jan-13 04:37:01

Well yes, that would be the ideal. But the ideal is rarely acheived when there is abuse/recalcitrance/downright fuckwittery going on, as so often happens. By both/either parent.

I've seen both sides, a dear friend whose ex really is a total cunt (and the courts have seen through his lies) and my own DS, whose ex has denied him contact because she didn't like his gf, tbough she herself had a new dp.

Morloth Tue 29-Jan-13 05:31:42

If the ex is a cunt who is not putting their children first, then clearly the partner who is doing so needs to try to limit that person's access to the children.

It doesn't matter who the parent is whether mother or father. Both are equal in those terms and children need them both equally.

Sometimes they can't have them both equally because that isn't in their best interests.

It is complicated, 50/50 might be the best choice for some kids, 80/20 for others 100/0 for others.

My point is neither the mother nor the father has any bloody 'rights' only the kids do.

Mosman Tue 29-Jan-13 05:42:11

Reasonableness seems to just disappear out the window when relationships break down, it has to be about the Dc's and that is very much age dependant.
50/50 shared care, I'd be bloody insisting on it but it makes me laugh that most married women don't have that so do we have to break up with them for the men to do their share of arse/face wiping. Probably.

YesIamYourSisterInLaw Tue 29-Jan-13 07:30:59

Yes we certainly were and still are now were apart. Me and exdp have joint custody, in fact he's had him even longer this time as I've not been coping very well with life.
So for the time being he's probably the better parent. I wish we could drop the stigmas around it all cause it really does make me feel worse. It's like a woman's not allowed to struggle, get down or need time off or she can't be a good mother. I really struggled when we first split with letting ex have it joint and I think a small part of this was because I felt it made me less of a mother, this is what society has conditioned us to feel

YesIamYourSisterInLaw Tue 29-Jan-13 07:32:47

By the way it refers to the custody not my ds blush just reread and it could be taken either way. I'm not THAT bad a mother I swear

flow4 Tue 29-Jan-13 07:42:20

Yes, that's an irony I've noticed Mosman: friends of mine have recently split up... He's a loving and involved dad, but she's still the one who works part-time and has done most of the childcare. Now she's left, and they're working out a 50:50 arrangement, and she suddenly has time for herself that she has never had before...

CrunchyFrog Tue 29-Jan-13 08:03:34

IME there is no pressure or societal expectation on fathers to do anything more than the barest minimum. If I spent as little time with my kids as XH, I would be seen as a trrrible, neglectful mother. But his 2 nights a week and state-set child support make him father of the fucking century apparently.

Parents have no rights, just responsibilities. In my personal belirf system, BF is important. therefore, XH did not have overnights with DC3 until he stopped BF at 2 years. Luckily, he also believes BF is important.

wordfactory Tue 29-Jan-13 08:14:41

I think it's imperative for a child's well being (in the absence of abuse) that a child have a solid relationship with both parents.

And this works best if both parents are highly involved from the outset.

If Dad starts off on a footing of barely seeing his baby, don't be suprised when he turns into a classic Disney Dad.

NumericalMum Tue 29-Jan-13 08:14:57

Part of what I find strange is how many people seem to have babies with people they haven't discussed these things with. I realise the odd accident happens due to the not 100% effectiveness of contraception but the numbers on MN and RL make me wonder a lot!

In answer to the OP parents are and should be equal. Given there is much better paternity leave these days parents should be able to be there together from the start. I did find it hard for me to leave my DC when she was BF which was much more down to hormones than her need for food.

Once I had to leave her for childcare there was no reason it shouldn't have been 50 50. It wasn't entirely but that was more out failures than anything else.

Branleuse Tue 29-Jan-13 08:21:04

depends what youre talking about. A man who inseminates a woman then fucks off is NOT an equal parent.

A man that lovingly raises a baby to a child IS an equal parent

Branleuse Tue 29-Jan-13 08:26:00

My ex and i were together years. He left me when ds1 was 4. He is very involved in ds' life and is a good parent.
My dp has been a hands on dad from the start and if anything happened to us as a couple, he would have equal rights as a parent.

This is nothing to do with biological reasons. I dont rely on my partner or my ex for anything, but they all have a sense of responsibility.

Some guys expect equal treatment when theyve done fuck all, just because it came from their moment of fun. Like in that thread where yesterday where the guy left his partner during pregnancy and shacked up with the mistress and now is complaining she wont let him keep the young baby for any length of time alone. In that case if i was the woman id tell him to fuck off

Emilythornesbff Tue 29-Jan-13 08:27:30

Every family is different.
My DH is as important to our son as I am, but he's certainly not the same as I am. We fulfill different roles that are dynamic and often overlap.
Often the equality issue is only raised after separation, which raises debate about parental rights and equal shares of children. As someone else has pointed out this is unhelpful,as the priority should be the rights of the dc and the responsibilities of the parents.
I think equality is complicated and not defined by "sameness"
My dh and I bring different qualities to the life of our ds. Maybe sometimes they are not equal in some ppl's view but what's important IMHO is that those different contributions are valued.

DontEvenThinkAboutIt Tue 29-Jan-13 08:57:59

This thread is depressing. I would be even more depressed about it if I was a bloke and I would be extremely depressed about it if I were a seperated bloke. sad

TandB Tue 29-Jan-13 09:02:33

I think that fathers are hugely important to a child - but in the first few weeks, biology should be the primary consideration. Babies are wired to cling to their mothers - there have been all sorts of test done that show that a newborn can identify the smell of its mother's milk as opposed to someone else's milk. I'm a great believer in the 4th trimester theory - warmth, food on tap, cuddles, not too much stimulation.

Once the baby starts becoming more alert and interracting with the world around him, that's when I think it is most important for the father to become much more hands-on.

Both DSs slept on me, fed from me, were carried around in a sling by me. They bonded with their father and grandparents and have very good, strong relationships with their whole family (in fact Gran is currently streets ahead in the "Favoured Carer" race!) but I was the one they came back to when they had a comfort-related need to be met. DS1 is 3 1/2 and is confident and independent, and currently all about daddy. DS2 is 1 and is also massively into his dad at the moment, but still wants to fall asleep on me and will resist any attempt by DP to cuddle him to sleep.

Parenting is a lifetime responsibility and, over the course of that lifetime, both parents are ultimately equal, but there will be times when the balance tips one way or another and, in my opinion, the responsibility is tipped heavily towards the mother in the first few weeks. That's not to say that the father can't be involved, but he should respect the fact that the baby is, at that time, programmed to be attached to his mother.

Emilythornesbff Tue 29-Jan-13 09:10:50

What kungfupanda said.

ChocolateCoins Tue 29-Jan-13 09:16:40

My DP would never stop me breastfeeding just so he could have one of our DC over night. If we ever split up I mean.

My DD is now 17 months and she NEVER took a bottle. Many babies are bottle refusers so how would you get round that problem?

Also, I am the only person that can get my DD to sleep. Other people have tried but she just screams. Even for DP. So letting him have her over night, at this age, would be cruel. Me and DP have discussed this and he agrees that waiting until DD is older would be more beneficial for her.

Obviously if a baby/toddler can be put to sleep by others and is happy to have a bottle/sleeps through the night, then there is no reason why they shouldn't stay at their dads over night.

But I really do think this is going to be different for every child. You can't just say that all children benefit from overnight stays. It's not that black and White.

OptimisticPessimist Tue 29-Jan-13 09:20:48

Great post kungfupanda, pretty much sums up what I was going to say about newborns. My newborns were all FF but they still clung to me in the way you describe. I think a father who tries to force his way between a mother and a newborn really doesn't have his child's best interests in mind.

I don't think equal parenting is a given, but I think all parents have the potential to be equal, if that makes sense. I don't consider my XP to be an equal parent, but I would if he had behaved differently. As it is, my children actually thrive without him and are better off spending 100% of their time with me than they were when it was split more equally.

Emilythornesbff Tue 29-Jan-13 09:30:40

Actually this thread reminded me a bit of the scene in "life of Brian" when the guy chages his name to Loretta ...... We should support his right to have babies, even though he can't actually have babies, not having a womb, which is nobody's fault, not even the Romans............
Showing my age blush

ICBINEG Tue 29-Jan-13 09:32:03

wow I agree with worra <first time eva init>

CornflowerB Tue 29-Jan-13 09:34:08

Can't be arsed to read the whole thread because of the obvious 'hidden' agenda but I am just loving the idea that you can 'simply' give a baby expressed milk in a bottle. Yes, like it is really that simple. Expressing milk can be utterly soul destroying - hours of pumping for a small amount of milk that the baby won't even take out of a bottle anyway, or that the baby will take for a while and then suddenly refuse to take. I am going to totally flamed for this but it is such a male, black and white, lack of nuance perspective. Oh yes JUST (god I hate that word) express the milk and give it in a bottle. I tried for a month to get my DD to take milk in a bottle so that I could be a non-BF bridesmaid (seems so foolish now) and it was just impossible. Lots of babies just prefer boobs because, let's face it, that is what mammals have evolved to have milk from.

AmberSocks Tue 29-Jan-13 09:36:13

i don't think fathers are equal to mothers when it comes to babies,they are a good second though and i wouldn't leave any of my kids with anyone else other than him when they are under the age of about 4.

my husband also feels that way,as after reading something about mothers biological feelings to their baby being a myth,i did wonder,but no,i don't believe that.

if me and dh split up,i imagine we would share are of them provided they were all of the age where they could cope without me for a few days.

Kerryblue Tue 29-Jan-13 09:39:49

Brilliant post kungfupannda.

My ex h was around and involved in dc1's life. He was a good dad.

He left me when I was pregnant with dc2, although did not move out from the family home until she was 8 months old, so he did form good attachment to her too (long story but I think I was hoping he would change his mind and not want to go sad)

However, I was still BF her and during those 8 months, she always wanted me in the night, always wanted me for comfort and would not be settled by exh. When he left, he therefore did not have her overnight. He agreed with this so all was fine. I think she was about 14 months when she went over night.

I think for me, and call me selfish and not putting her interests first, I really could not handle another woman cuddling her and changing her nappy. Me and exh had created this baby (after years of struggling with infertility no less) and then he just left, and brought this stranger into her life who would act like a mummy figure to her. This, for me, was SO hard to deal with.

So although he is an equal, other reasons came into play.

FWIW, the dc are now 8 and 11, he is remarried to her, they have a great relationship with their dad and are going to the USA in the summer for THREE weeks!! Now that is a looooong time, but I would never stop this from happening. (even though I am slightly dreading it, I will miss them lots).

The 50:50 thing often doesn't happen in families who have not split up, due to the dh working and the mother on maternity leave, so to expect 50:50 to work just because you have split up is unrealistic afaic.

cory Tue 29-Jan-13 09:54:34

Birdsgottafly Tue 29-Jan-13 00:18:13
""Why can't it be two people, assuming that they are both responsive?"

People smell/taste/feel different, a lot of research was done via the old orphange set up and the deprortees, where various care givers saw to the baby's needs."

Surely you can't compare an orphanage, with busy and changing and often indifferent carers to a family setup with two consistent carers who are the child's parents and are able to focus on that child (talking now of a family unit, not split custody)? What does the situation in an orphanage tell us about a situation where two responsive and bonded parents share the care from birth? Very little, I suspect

Or do people imagine that in historical times, before the 50s, most mothers had the time to spend all their day nursing a baby for its first year, with no help from others? That older sisters/unmarried aunts were not filling a vital role because mother was often needed elsewhere. Working class mothers were needed to earn money, farming mothers were needed to look after the pigs, the vegetable garden, the chickens and often to help out in the fields. Upper and middle class mothers had representational duties which are difficult to imagine these days;care would have been shared with the nurse. In the lower middle classes, the care of a small baby would have been shared between the mother and the maid, and the child would often regard the maid as a second parent.

Did everybody before 1900 grow up with attachment problems?

What about other primates, where mothers are often seen to share the babying with younger female members of the flock?

I do believe in the importance of consistant carers. But I do not see any evidence that this has usually, historically, taken the shape of one single carer to the exclusion of others; I suspect a far more common picture I (if we look beyond the 20th/21st centuries) is two carers.

In Sweden, extended paternity leave/shared parental leave is more common than here. Though successive Swedish governments have regarded it as a bit of failure because the whole population did not take it up (they like everybody to do the same in Sweden!), there is no doubt that many families have taken it up and that there are few signs of damage in their children.

My db and SIL were both at home in the early days: she breastfed and studied, he did the other babycare and ran his own business. This type of arrangement is not that uncommon in Sweden- are their babies more damaged than the average British baby? They look well enough at 9 and 11.

Ime even Swedish fathers who do work FT tend to spend their leisure time (evenings, nights, weekend) closely involved with the babycare; if the mother steps away a little at those times, you don't have to be far off 50%, given that babies often sleep for a bit during working hours anyway, and are awake at awkward hours in the middle of the night.

cory Tue 29-Jan-13 10:01:38

I am not for interfering with breastfeeding or forcing a young baby into a situation that is new and frightening, so I could see problems with suddenly imposing an overnight stay with a father who maybe hasn't been all that involved from the start.

I am just uncomfortable with the argument that a family that genuinely shares the care between two loving, involved, constant people (whether mother and father or -in earlier days- mother and maid) are doing some kind of Roumanian orphanage damage.

Viviennemary Tue 29-Jan-13 10:10:18

I think they should be equal in an ideal world. But a lot of the trouble starts when the new partner gets involved and wants to have a big say in the decision making about the children. This must be especially difficult when the partner was the OW. Or even reverse the sexes. From what I've read on MN that is when the trouble starts. When the new partner wants control and a big say in the children's lives instead of taking a back seat and let the parents make the decisions.

Emilythornesbff Tue 29-Jan-13 10:16:40

cornflowerb good points, well made IMHO.

FreckledLeopard Tue 29-Jan-13 10:31:00

No, they're not equal. Not in my view. Which won't go down well here, I know. But I absolutely, 100%, do not believe that fathers can parent in the same physiological way as mothers.

I think there can be terrific fathers who can learn how to respond to the needs of their children and can be great parents. But I don't think that men have the same instinctive nurturing as women. There's a reason that women's hormones change in pregnancy and after childbirth. There's a reason that oxytocin floods the mother's bloodstream.

We are fundamentally mammals and I've yet to see many male mammals nurturing their offspring in the same way that female mammals do. And before anyone starts citing the examples of seahorses - as has been done on other threads - seahorses are not mammals.

I'm pretty sceptical of the idea that nurture will somehow override nature and that by having men take paternity leave etc will suddenly mean that they can be equal caregivers to women.

Of course, there will be exceptions to this rule. There are crap mothers and excellent fathers. But, in general, I believe that a mother's love and nurturing abilities outweigh a father's.

Mumsyblouse Tue 29-Jan-13 10:36:28

cory I agree with you, I don't think the literature on attachment (some of which is quite dodgy and outdates anyway) suggests that there can't be multiple caregivers, indeed, this type of set-up with more than one stable loving caregiver is also better as it is likely to protect if there is PND with one of the caregivers, which is extremely common mainly in mothers.

My dd's had three primary caregivers, me, my mother, and my husband. It varied who was most commonly with them, depending who was working/what else was going on. My dd2 also had another caregiver, her sister, although very close in age, my dd1 spent so much time caring/playing/speaking to her, I would count her as well, even though she didn't care for her in the sense of getting food/physical needs.

My husband looked after my dd2 on his own several days a week, once I was out of the breastfeeding stage. If I hadn't been there, they would have been just fine, which in itself was a little upsetting.

I think breastfeeding is a bit of a red herring these situations, given the very low breastfeeding rates at 4 months (isn't it less than 10% or even a smaller number). So, 90% of mothers are not breastfeeding by four months and there's no reason that other caregivers can't play a full part (and in most cultures, older siblings, mothers, grannies, any spare pair of hands do).

elizaregina Tue 29-Jan-13 10:38:14


as horrid as it sounds and seems though - if a man has " moved on" and wants his new partner to be part of the babies life - (after all she will be bringing this child up also) - isnt it also very crucial for the happiness of that child to bond with its new step mother as quickly as possible.

It can be hard when people break up when children are older.

You could view it -that if the parents break up BEFORE the baby is born this is even more while the newborn is like a little blind mole - snuffling about and wanting food and to be held -ALL the new parents can get in on this - so it never knows any different.

whilst BF may or may not be an issue - the mother could at least try to express so the father - primariluy and maybe even the new partner could also feed the baby - if that was possible so they can all bond with baby?

newNN Tue 29-Jan-13 11:05:31

My mum and dad shared the childcare when I was little and organised their work lives around it, so it was possible for one of them to always be with me. I love my parents equally and am not more attached to one than the other.

That said, in most cases it is the mother who makes the most sacrifices in order to do what she considers to be the right thing for her children - she is the one most likely to lose out in career terms, to get up in the night, take time off to look after a sick child.

On MN you read all the time about feckless fathers fucking off with other women and leaving their kids/not paying proper child support. The mothers are not doing this - it is rare for a woman to abandon her child. That indicates to me that women, on the whole, are better parents who put the needs of their dc above their own more selfish desires. Men seem to think of themselves as good parents, while simultaneously doing things which are clearly not in their children's best interests.

I accept that this is generalising and there are lots of lovely men out there who are equally devoted to their dc (my dad, for one). But, if you look at society as a whole it is generally the mother who puts the kid's needs first 100%.

Nature makes it so that there are 2 genders and only one can have babies - it is this way for a reason.

5madthings Tue 29-Jan-13 11:16:13

eliza if the couple split up before baby is born then once its born the baby needs to be loved and secure and form.a bond with its mum and dad. It does not need to form.a bond in those early months with its fathers new girlfriend who may or may not be a long term fixture!! She isnt tge babies parent and nor will she be. She can if the relationship last be anothertrusted adult and have a good relationship with them but unless there is a formal agreemwnt that gives her parental rights etc she isnt that childs parent and she doesnt need to form a relationship with it in the newborn stages.

I never understand why people start relationships and insist on introducing their new girl/boyfriend to their children so quickly. Surely you take the time to get to know them and then when i troduce them you do it gradually and carefully making sure the child is happy. If a man leaves a woman when she is pregnant and has a new girlfriend by the time the baby is born he needs to think if the babies needs which are to form a loving bond with its mum and dad, to do thar he needs to have an amicable relationship with its mother, insisting the mum expresses milk so he or his girlfriend can feed the baby is not likely to help encourage an amicable relationship.

Yes fathers need to be involved their new girlfriends do not, ditto.if its the other wat round.

Snorbs Tue 29-Jan-13 11:22:30

I think all this concentration on the needs of babies is something of a red herring. Yes, the baby years are important but there's a lot more to raising children than just the babyhood part.

To cast fathers as second-class parents purely because they can't breastfeed completely discounts the importance of both parents for the 15-odd years when the children are no longer babies.

noblegiraffe Tue 29-Jan-13 11:37:53

Dear god I can't believe the posters who are blithely announcing that babies should be ff or forced to take a bottle just so Dad can have a go at feeding.

Let's face it, babies don't need to be born at 40 weeks+ really. If the couple split up, then the mother should be induced and the baby forced to be born at, say, 38 weeks (technically full term) just so that she can stop hogging the baby and let the dad have a go at caring for it.

Anyone up for that? Anyone want to argue in favour of something which is obviously not in the baby's benefit just so dad gets his fair share? Bfing is biologically proven to be best for the baby, expecting that to be taken away from it for the selfish interests of the father is ludicrous. Expecting a mother to force a baby onto bottles and spend time expressing when she doesn't want to is also selfish. (Incidentally I bfed for 17 months and couldn't express a drop despite a good few attempts).

I have a friend whose DH forced her to stop bfing because he wanted to have a go bottle feeding their baby. He also turned out to be an abusive twat - I suspect the two are linked.

CoteDAzur Tue 29-Jan-13 11:47:31

I don't know about FF but I did express my breastmilk every day with both DC so that DH could do one night feed.

Nothing to do with his needs as a dad. Lots to do with my need to sleep.

elizaregina Tue 29-Jan-13 12:05:07


if a father of a baby has a baby over night where do you think that baby will sleep, or be taken if its fretful...there is a chance it will be taken into bed as you would with your own baby.

therefore a new baby ie one wherre the parents have split up - should have a relationship with the new mum.

if the dad has the baby - who will hold that baby while he goes to the loo -change him/her while the dad is occupied....
its naive to think the new partner wont be doing anything at all with teh baby. If she also loves babies she is even more likely to be hands on. its only natural to think that she should have room to also bond with baby?

otherwise you have a new born being exposed to a third party they dont know.

as ugly as it is - a man leaves a pregnant woman but wants contact with his child must be facilited to do so.

they should discuss bf - and whether this will allow him to bond or wil it be used against him.....if they are agreed on BF so be it - if they are happy to express or FF so be it- but a couple breaking up before a child is born should disccuss these things.

if there is AW invloved - her role will need to be discussed too. if the man has the child over at 4 months and the baby is fretful that baby will pronbably end up in bed with them - maybe co sleeping - again things to be dicussed.

elizaregina Tue 29-Jan-13 12:06:18

yes but why shouldnt dad get his " fair share" the child IS his " fair share!!!

noblegiraffe Tue 29-Jan-13 12:11:54

Oh good grief a baby isn't a possession for people to take turns on, it is a vulnerable human being whose rights and interests need to be protected above those of the parents. It is not in the interests of the child to be removed from a breastfeeding mother just because the dad wants it to be.

newNN Tue 29-Jan-13 12:13:51

Maybe if the dad wants his 'fair share', he should not leave his pg partner and shack up with ow? He has already demonstrated at that point that he is selfish and will put his own desires ahead of what is best for his child.

noblegiraffe Tue 29-Jan-13 12:14:19

In addition, the father should have no say, IMO if the baby is to be bf or not.

Not all fathers leave to shack up with another women. Sometimes the women decides to leave the relationship

newNN Tue 29-Jan-13 12:18:19

Quite. A man who would say no to bf, so he can get his own way, is a man whose opinion should never be sought on anything important!

newNN Tue 29-Jan-13 12:21:07

That's true Moomin and for those men I have a great deal of sympathy, because the choice to be with their child as much as they want, has been removed. I would hope that the mother would recognise this and facilitate a good relationship between the dad and baby, but I know that doesn't always happen and it must be heartbreaking for the dad who wants to do everything possible for the baby too.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Tue 29-Jan-13 12:32:08

Oh good grief a baby isn't a possession for people to take turns on, it is a vulnerable human being whose rights and interests need to be protected above those of the parents


I think mothers and fathers are equally important as parents, but they're not necessarily equal at every stage in a child's life and in every situation.

Tiny babies are biologically designed to be with their mothers. Breastfed babies are used to getting both food and comfort from bf so to just withdraw that every few nights seems somewhat cruel to the baby.

BabyRoger Tue 29-Jan-13 12:35:56

freckledleopard I totally agree with all you said in your post. Also agree with noblegiraffe.

A man who isn't prepared to wait a few months and build up his relationship with a little baby, but is determined to force the issue in terms of His Rights is going to be a shitty father.

My DS is 8 now and has an excellent relationship with his dad, however when DS was a newborn, his dad saw him maybe once a month or so (for various circumstantial reasons) and DS main caregivers were me and my parents. DS thrived, and still does.

Yes, men can be great parents and often are. But the men who are insisting on Their Fair Share at all costs are often the ones who have done fuck all in the way of nappychanging anyway, and in fact intend to palm the work of caring for the baby off on their mothers/new partners - they are just interested in point-scoring over the baby's mother. A man who intends to be a good father will put the effort in to keeping a civil relationship with the baby's mother, and will not be putting pressure on her for more than reasonable regular contact until the baby is a little older.

BabyRoger Tue 29-Jan-13 12:38:34

And I agree with richmanpoormanbeggarsmanthief

We need a sensible approach to these things. Totally agree that parents are equal but not always at every stage and in every situation.

Wallison Tue 29-Jan-13 12:46:08

Some of the comments on here are a bit pie-in-the-sky. When I was breasfeeding my son, I would rather have shit on my hands and clapped than expressed milk so that another woman could then feed him with it.

SamSmalaidh Tue 29-Jan-13 13:08:48

elizaregina - a baby should never be taken into bed with people who aren't that child's breastfeeding mother, it is a risk for cot death. Mother-baby pairs, when breastfeeding, sleep in sync with each other. The risk with some other person sleeping with the baby is they sleep too deeply and could suffocate them.

5madthings Tue 29-Jan-13 13:13:20

Exactly wallison there is no fucking way I would express milk so that my ex's new girlfriend could feed them!

And as Sam points out it is a SIDS risk for the girlfriend to share the bed with the baby so she shoulkdnt do it anyway. You also keep referring to the girlfriend as apparent to this child, they are not!!

MamaBear17 Tue 29-Jan-13 13:27:23

I dont think that it is a case of equality. Rather, in some relationships the primary caregiver is often the mother. For most of the couples I know that means that the mum takes maternity leave and the father works. I know in my own relationship I do the lions share of the baby (now toddler) care. Its my husband equally as important as me? Yes, of course he is. As my daughter has grown he has taken on more of the childcare duties, but in the early days it was mostly me. I got up 6 nights a week because he worked but on a Friday, he got up to give me a break. I spent all day caring for my baby, organised weaning, took her to baby groups, doctors appointments etc. The only reason why I did most of it is because my husband went out to work. We are a team, and we cant both stay at home with the baby, so I did and he worked.

5madthings Tue 29-Jan-13 13:34:07

At the moment most babies spend their first hours/day with mum in hospital. Then once home their dad may be around full time if he takes paternity leave, once back at work he may be out the house for 10-12 he's a day leaving a mum on maternity leave as the main carer. The dad can still have an important role when at home, my dp always has done but the set up which is dictated by economics often means mum is main carer and when a relationship breaks down its seen as beneficial to maintain the status quo and then the parents can work together to buildup contact away from the mother.

The current thing is that courts don't order overnights (in the UK) under 12mths, does any one know why they have that ruling? Is it researched and based on studies? I would hope its dependent on In dividual circumstances.

I do agree that a man that pushes for extended contact at the detriment of a bfeeding relationship is not thinking of the chilkds needs.

Daddelion Tue 29-Jan-13 14:05:36

I can understand breastfed babies staying mainly with their mums.

But what have boys got in common with their mums?
They should go off and live with the menfolk and learn men stuff.

MagicLlama Tue 29-Jan-13 14:14:11

I think the mistake is that to assume that in order to be equal parents you have to have a 50/50 split of the childs time.

As a child who had a 50/50 split along with my older and younger brother, I can categorically state that for us at least - that was more about the needs of the parents than of us children.

And the 4 parents involved, all went out of their way to be friendly, and flexible and all get on - It was still shit.

Both parents are important to a childs development in different ways, as are other family members, friends, teachers etc.

wanderingcloud Tue 29-Jan-13 14:33:51

This makes me so sad as apparently my DS must have suffered terribly due to the fact that I returned to work relatively early and his father acted as primary caregiver. hmm

I bf in the early weeks but DH took the time off work too and did the vast majority of the rest of the childcare as we knew I would be returning to work and he was going to be SAHD. He got up in the night and brought DS to me for a feed, he changed his nappy, resettled him, he dressed him, bathed him. Having a penis (or more accurately not having boobs) clearly didn't prevent him from caring for our son?!

This was necessary for me to be able to recover from the birth fully enough to go back as early as I did.

DH is much more of a natural parent than me. I didn't always want to have children, if I hadn't been with him I probably wouldn't have. OTOH He has always wanted a large family, lot's of kids and to be highly involved.

If parents are together then IMO there is no biological reason that the mother must be the primary caregiver. Not all mothers are equally "motherly" just by virtue of being female.

However, if parents are separated and a father cannot be there providing a similar dual role in the very early days then I think it's wrong to deprive a child of that comfort just because a parent wants their "share" of time with the baby.

WhatsTheBuzz Tue 29-Jan-13 15:00:56

Some fathers are, some aren't. My DD's dad only took an interest in her after we separated. I did everything with/for her and she hated being left alone with him, she was so attached to me. I would say we weren't equal as far as parenting went.

My current DP is very hands-on with our DC which meant I could comfortably return to work, leaving them together and not be worried - something I could never have done first time round.

IneedAsockamnesty Tue 29-Jan-13 15:55:01

If my ex asked me to express so his gf could bond and feed the baby and that he was intending on co sleeping with all three of them at night,I would ask him to get drug tested as clearly something would have confuddled his mind.

flow4 Tue 29-Jan-13 16:07:54

But Daddelion, that would interfere terribly with the menfolks' hunt for mammoths. hmm

SoniaGluck Tue 29-Jan-13 16:22:35

This: Most NB are asleep for weeks on end they only seem to start being more aware and waking up to the world from 3 months.
and this:
*But what have boys got in common with their mums?
They should go off and live with the menfolk and learn men stuff.*

have to be the two silliest things that I have read on MN (or anywhere, actually ) for months.

HopAndSkip Tue 29-Jan-13 16:44:38

Sonia- I am pretty certain daddelion was being sarcastic with the But what have boys got in common with their mums? They should go off and live with the menfolk and learn men stuff. comment I would hope so anyway!!

Emilythornesbff Tue 29-Jan-13 16:46:25

wallison exactly

DoItToJulia Tue 29-Jan-13 16:49:21

Since when does equality mean that separated fathers need to/are entitled to/should have tiny babies overnight?

And the earlier argument about expressing milk to facilitate that is the most naive thing I have ever heard. What if the expressed bottle isn't enough? What if you can't express? What if the baby wants an extra feed? What if the bottle leaks? What if the mother doesn't want to pump milk while her baby is elsewhere? What if the mother can't express while the baby is not there? How is it equal that a mother spends the night that the tiny baby is away from her setting alarm clocks to ensure they express at the same time roughly as the baby would feed to ensure that their supply is maintained?

Equality in my mind doesn't mean parents get to have their fair share of a child. Equality isn't necessarily about time spent, equality surely, is both parents absolutely putting a tiny baby first. Putting their needs first. If both parents equally agree that a tiny baby can spend an overnight with the parent who lives away, then that's equality.

SoniaGluck Tue 29-Jan-13 16:57:07

Hop You may well be right, that occurred to me after I'd posted. I took it at face value and if I was being po-faced and humourless then I apologise.

OTOH, I read something from daddelion on another thread a few days ago that didn't appear remotely humorous and was in a similar vein. So I'm not sure.

I stand by the other one, though.

HopAndSkip Tue 29-Jan-13 17:03:58

I do think it's impossible to get a blanket answer on something like this.

There will always be some cases where mum didn't bond very strongly for whatever reason, and so the dad has taken either the whole or major parenting role, or where mum had to work early on etc, so dad has taken on the primary career role, and in these situations if the baby doesn't recognize mum due to seeing her a few hours a week for example, or if baby still needs dad to settle him/her at night as this is what they are used to, then mum should accept this and gradually build up in the way any other NRP would until the baby is happy to be looked after by her alone.

But then equally, in the larger majority of situations when baby and mum have a strong bond, then dads do need to look at what will keep their baby happy, and accept that they don't instantly have the same role as mum, just like during pregnancy they didn't have the same role yet. They will get their chance to have their child alone for longer periods/do what they want to a much greater extent once the child is ready and happy to do so.

No child should be pushed into a situation before they are ready unless it in completely necessary, it's unfair and selfish.

HopAndSkip Tue 29-Jan-13 17:08:07

Sonia - the other one must have been one lucky parent... I'm pretty sure my DD didn't sleep until 3 months!

HecateWhoopass Tue 29-Jan-13 17:10:57

Imo good parents are and should be equal, regardless of gender.
My husband isn't a lesser parent, less important to our children or less able to care for them because he is male.
I don't have any special skills in childcare because I am female.
If we're talking the physical care of breast fed babies then clearly only the mother can breastfeed! But apart from that then providing both parents are equally caring and competent, I don't see why one is better than the other.

I don't think they are equal, I think they're different but equally important.

HecateWhoopass Tue 29-Jan-13 17:21:55

Equal doesn't mean same.

Of equal importance is equal.

SoniaGluck Tue 29-Jan-13 17:24:09

the other one must have been one lucky parent..
Absolutely - it was years before I got more than 2 hours sleep together.

Daddelion Tue 29-Jan-13 17:59:43

SoniaGluck- was it this post?

Add message | Report | Message poster Daddelion Sat 26-Jan-13 18:01:02

He was a bit out of order with the Mushroom soup.

Is he normally a fun guy?

That joke was wasted.
I'm rarely very serious on MN, unless it's a serious, personal thread, then I don't post.

SoniaGluck Tue 29-Jan-13 18:23:48

Daddelion No, it wasn't that. I can't remember which thread it was now. And it's also possible I have you confused with someone else.

It seems I've got you wrong, I sincerely apologise. blush I can be too serious for my own good, sometimes.

cory Tue 29-Jan-13 18:24:29

HopAndSkip, can we also accept that there are cases where mother and baby do bond strongly, but where the father is also able to bond strongly with his baby.

A strong bond with one parent doesn't have to negate a strong bond with the other parent.

Leaving my babies with dh never felt like leaving them- he was a kind of extension of me. Leaving them with a childminder, babysitter or other relative was a totally different matter; that was something I needed time with.

jellybeans Tue 29-Jan-13 19:34:19

Ridiculous to suggest a newborn is ff just so Dad can have overnight or equal contact! My bf DS3 would not have expressed milk or bottle till much older. I agree with the posters who said the mother is generally more important to a newborn (having carried the baby for nine months and bf etc) unless there are unusual circumstances. Both parents are important but in different ways. It should be about what is best for baby not father.

elizaregina Tue 29-Jan-13 19:37:03

Has op been back yet or was she just shit stirring!

jellybeans Tue 29-Jan-13 19:47:37

There is no way a man who has left their pregnant partner should have a say in whether to allow his ex, the mother, to breastfeed! The mothers choice, end of.

I suspect some of the bizarre posts on here are by OW?

millie30 Tue 29-Jan-13 19:51:46

Elizaregina were you on a wind up in this thread?

elizaregina Tue 29-Jan-13 19:57:30

Not as such no, some interesting things were raised on another thread and I wondered if some things could be defended; if you try and walk in someone elses shoes it can help you understand the other side blush

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 29-Jan-13 19:58:03

Interesting reading.

I FF both my DSs and i must admit that i was hung up, at first, on the idea that there was nothing "special" about me because, as i saw it " anyone" could feed him

Then i came to see it as a wonderful thing. DH was as bonded to them as i was, right from the first day.

Now i see it as one of those things. The quality of the relationship depends on the indivduals concerned. In theory, both parents are equally important, if they are allowed to be, and can be bothered.

In practice, i probably know more of the practical details of my dcs lives as i was a sahm for 10 years, but i am not the more important parent. Luckily we complement each other. I hope my dcs never have to lose contact with either of us.

googlyeyes Tue 29-Jan-13 19:58:16

Have to say I strongly suspected Eliza was on the wind up too.

The bit about mums expressing to enable the OW to bond with the baby and co-sleep with dad and baby was exquisite

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 29-Jan-13 20:02:57

This debate is very much predicated on the fact of breastfeeding. Dont the majority of women FF?

Emilythornesbff Tue 29-Jan-13 20:05:12

In utter agreement with freckled leopard and noble giraffe
Incidentally, sounds like a good mix at a funky zoo.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 29-Jan-13 20:09:29


I agree with what you have written on this thread smile

spiritedaway Tue 29-Jan-13 20:10:45

Elizaregina. . i hate that argument that babies can survive on x y or z. Think we all aim higher than survival.

millie30 Tue 29-Jan-13 20:13:10

Thanks for the explanation elizaregina, I thought your comments on here seemed incompatible with your posts on the other thread!

riverboat Tue 29-Jan-13 20:14:11

I think there is no perfect easy answer when it comes to parents who have split up before or shortly after birth of a DC, and what the arrangements should be. Like pretty much everything to do with shared parenting / step-families / blended's complicated, not entirely 'natural' and requires work.

I guess that if two people have split up at this stage, there's a good chance there is bad feeling or maybe even irresponsibility on at least one side, which would make it harder to work through these already complicated issues fairly.

My DP and his ex split up when their DC was less than a year old - but it was and is very amicable. DP had his DC Fri - Mon every other week from (IIRC) 10 months onwards.

I think that this situation can potentially bring out the best in some fathers, as it forces them to take full responsibility for their child's range of needs early on, to come to terms with what they need and how to care for them, no chance of leaving night wakes, exhausting days and shitty nappies to the mothers. I think this was at least partially the case for my DP. He's not the most domesticated of men in many senses, but when it comes to his DS's needs - practical and emotional - he is fantastic. Part of me thinks that if he had stayed with his ex, he probably wouldn't have ended up doing half as much of the 'work' side of things as he did, and might not have been as responsible and knowledgable a father because of it.

tittytittyhanghang Tue 29-Jan-13 20:16:15

Ive not disappered, just attending to pesky rl stuff getting in the way of mn work/kids/house the list is endles. I actually think the bf thing is a bit of a red herring given the low percentages of bf, but i do think that for an older baby, at least trying to express feed to give a father some time isn't asking for much. If it doesn't work, then so be it, at least it was tried. Im not actually advocating 50/50 all the time neither, I understand sometimes this is not possible, but theres a whole realm of differences between 50/50 and the supervised one hour a week because baby won't cope away from mum. I dont think ive every mentioned OW, because I dont think a having/not having a new partner should have relevance to how much time a father is being allowed to spend with his child.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 29-Jan-13 20:21:52


My DH was as good, better at times as I found sleep deprivation a killer, at settling our sons, even though he worked FT. I am wondering if my experience of having a DH who is as competent and bonded as me, is unusual.

I'm not sure. i do know several women who have controlled access to their DCs. and i know several men who have shown too little interest.

MerryCouthyMows Tue 29-Jan-13 20:28:57

Even a court does not expect a ebf baby to be given formula if that is against the Mother's wishes (as it would be seen as contradictory to the pro bf messages) until 12 months old.

They also have NO powers to insist that a mother expresses bm so that contact can take place, as NOT every mother can express.

(And this IS true. I expressed easily for DD, DS1 and DS2, but with DS3, I could express for an hour and only get half an ounce.)

What the courts DO advise for a bf baby under a year old is 'little and often'.

So contact WITH the Mother there, 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours, usually in the Mother's home.

And I'm not talking out of my arse here - my Ex and I split up when DS3 was just 4mo, and it went to court as I was NOT going to start ff just because we had split up, when we had decided TOGETHER, BEFORE DS3 was even born, that I would bf for AT LEAST 6 months, if not a year.

(It's a bloody good job I stuck to that, too - it turns out that DS3 is anaphylactic to dairy, so ff would have LITERALLY killed him!)

Ex came to the house 2-3 times a week, for 2-3 hours at a time, after work. He did dinner, bath, story, bed.

He came round for 4-5 hours once a week, and dealt with everything bar feeds.

Once DS3 was around 8mo, he could take him out locally for about an hour.

Then once I stopped bf at 12mo, he gradually increased the time he took him out for.

DS3 has a better bond with his Dad than DS2 - and Ex was there the whole time with DS2!

LynetteScavo Tue 29-Jan-13 20:31:39

If a baby was in danger of attack, who would be most likely to go in and risk their lives for the baby? Or would their reflex action be equally quick?

Totally hypothetical, and a situation most of us will never know the answer to, but I have my suspicions as to who it would have been for my DC.

Who could provide best financially for our DC? I know the answer.

Who wants to spend more time with the baby?

Are fathers and mothers equal to a baby?

I would say mothers are initially more important, with fathers becoming more important than mothers in teenage years. Of course there will always be exceptions to this, but this is how it is in my life.

FreudiansSlipper Tue 29-Jan-13 20:54:49

of course my ex is as important to ds as I am, of course we both love him and want the best for him but in my situation my life revolves around ds, our relationship is closer and I understand ds better than the ex does even though he sees him every week

I try not to interfere but I often have to remind the ex of things I have to set things out and it is draining sometimes I think fuck it let him just get with things but he is so wrapped up in himself and i have to think what is best for ds. I am a bitch at the moment because I will not allow him to take him to Singapore for a long weekend he has never taken him abroad and it is too far but of course I am trying to control him even though I have said closer to home would be better for a first trip abroad. And Singapore for a weekend hmm

MerryCouthyMows Tue 29-Jan-13 21:24:36

Now that DS3 is 2yo, I would say that my Ex and I are 'equal parents', DESPITE him having no access without me present until DS3 was 8mo, DESPITE him having no more than an hour's unsupervised access (due to DS3's frequent feedings, long story, allergy & TT related), DESPITE him not having DS3 overnight at all until he was 18mo (that one was due to his living arrangements - I was happy as was he to have overnights as soon as bf stopped, but his LL thought otherwise...), DESPITE him still only being able to have him overnight once every 8 weeks even now at 2yo (again, LL related).

It may have taken two years, and a LOT of teeth gritting and putting up with my Ex constantly in my home from me, but it has paid off, because now at 2yo, my DS3 is as bonded to his Daddy as he is to me.

Because my Ex wasn't allowed to wrench him away overnight at a stupidly young age, bf could continue, AND I bit my tongue and let him come to mine for access. Even though he had been a total arse, and a crap dad before we split up.

Putting DS3's needs first, however hard if has been for me to do, given the circumstances, has been absolutely the best thing to do as now DS3 has an equal bond with both his parents.

But NFW would I be even attempting to express my bm so that any Ex's bit of fluff OW can feed OUR newborn baby. I would sooner put my arm in the blender and switch the blender on.

And, as above, even a mother who has successfully expressed three times before may be unable to express the fourth time. And, as in my case, be exceedingly perplexed as to why!

elizaregina Tue 29-Jan-13 23:09:00

Merry that all sounds v sensible to me, inlcuding the arm blender bit grin, however if a baby did go to its fathers and OW at a young age - there is nothing to stop them co sleeping even if they didnt mean too.

abbyfromoz Wed 30-Jan-13 00:20:50

Equally important- yes
The same - no
IMO a child needs a mother AND a father to provide different emotional and developmental needs.
Makes sense to me.grin
Due to our gender 'roles' becoming slightly less rigid in recent times though i don't see why two parents can't be flexible in adapting where society would otherwise instil upon them (eg growing more nurturing) or changing their typical gender stereotype to suit their individual family

DumSpiroSpero Wed 30-Jan-13 01:24:12

TBH I don't think it is possible for everything to be equal all the time and anyone who thinks otherwise is, at best, fooling themselves.

In an ideal world, notwithstanding the tiny baby stage and breastfeeding, mothers and fathers should start from a level playing field, but there are so many variable it is impossible to maintain that status quo in the majority of situations.

In most, even these days, Mum will probably be primary carer on a practical level, even if working which will have a bearing on the situation.

If Mum goes back to work and Dad becomes primary carer, the pendulum swings back the other way to a degree.

I'll probably get flamed for this, but in some circumstances I think the gender of the child can have an effect. We have just one DD. DH grew up in a family of boys with a mum who has always had very poor relationships with the women in her life and admits that she generally doesn't get on with other women. He also attended a single sex school. As a result he has no clue about girls relationships/development issues.

At this precise point in time when DD is having to deal with all the ins and outs of friendship groups, girly bickering and the start of puberty, she needs me more on an emotional level, simply because DH wouldn't know where to start with advising/dealing with some of the stuff she's having issues with. Doesn't mean that he's not a great dad in virtually every other respect, or that there aren't other Dads out there who would be perfectly capable of dealing with raging pre-pubescent female hormones.

It is just an individual thing.

Kiwiinkits Wed 30-Jan-13 01:58:29

I'm sorry but the thought of a recently separated XH co-sleeping with my newborn baby and his new gf, after giving the baby bottles of expressed milk would drive me absolutely, impossibly jealous, demented and crazy. There is NO WAY in the flipping world I would agree to that if I was recently separated. And I like to think that I am calm, rational, even-handed. I also believe in equal parenting (but, one primary residence for the first year). But honestly, you'd have to have no soul to say that the thought of that shouldn't affect a mother.

The whole thought of the possibility of co-sleeping with another woman is just horrific to most mothers. I guess most fathers would feel the same way about mum's new boyfriends, granted.

MerlotAndMe Wed 30-Jan-13 01:59:33

It really depends imo Some fathers definitely deserve to be equals. Some don't. So they aren't.

2aminthemorning Wed 30-Jan-13 02:56:38

A newborn baby is only out of the womb a short time. Their needs haven't changed that much in the short time 'outside' - being held close to Mummy's chest, recognising the familiar heartbeat and smell, learning how to feed and coming to appreciate the security of a familiar pair of arms - all this is primarily one care giver's workd. Those posters pressing for 'equal' parenting don't realise that a newborn baby is still inextricably linked to Mum's body. For a number of months, the newborn grows closer to Mum as the relationship deepens. This is just the way a baby develops. (Not to say Dad couldn't take that role if he had to, of course).

I agree that a father's role is vital and significant and, yes, in any humane perspective, he has 'rights' to the child. But this idea that a baby can share out her affections between parents according to whichever one of them wants a turn is really missing the point. Fathers need to have a healthy respect for a new mum's emotional state. It's in the baby's best interests to have a calm mum - and calmness is not something that can be conjured up with talk of rights and legalities. Telling a first-time mum that she must surrender her baby to someone else, for however short a time, is incredibly stressful. That is going to have a knock-on effect for baby. A new mum is not necessarily able to think rationally about the improbability of her baby dying/being injured when away from her. She will just panic. Given the vulnerability of her condition (and the fact that she is probably even tireder than usual as a result of having to do so much more on her own), I don't think she should have to. Condescending? Perhaps. But true. And yes, a new mum does have a right to have her baby in her presence at all times, if that is what she wants. She's the one with the package of hormones, after all.

I understand a father's panic when it looks like a precedent is being set for relatively short access periods in the baby's primary residence. He needs to be reassured about this. He also needs to take responsibility for the welfare of his baby's mum insofar as he can, doing all he can to support and respect her at this important time. Given that a baby can't be in two places at once, it's much more realistic to expect Dad to take a bit of a hit. It will do his relationship with baby no long-term damage and Mum will be much happier, making for a more contented baby. And in all likelihood a better supply of milk if BF.

2aminthemorning Wed 30-Jan-13 02:59:03

Spoken as one who can hear her baby roar down the hall as she 'co-sleeps' with Daddy smile

Unacceptable Wed 30-Jan-13 03:52:41

YABU Fathers are Not equal to Mothers. I'm not saying Mothers are better I much prefer my Father but they are often equally important as others have said.

Sometimes Fathers aren't only unequal but are completely shite, useless and abusive.
Of course Mothers can be too but if you've started this thread because of perceived Father-bashing I wonder if you have come to that conclusion after threads where there has been an uninvolved or worse abusive Father who is using his 'rights' as a weapon to cause harm or distress?

A lot of Mums try to limit access to safeguard their DC, I know I did. It's often the hardest thing to do when your DC are crying out for their Father, when you desperately want them to be an equal parent and to love and care for the DC you created together.

Many responses when a poster asks about contact following separation come from Mothers who have experienced dealing with a Father who caused concern when it came to contact and so their solutions/answers/advice are coloured by their own experience.

Having said all that it is true that some Mothers are assholes who use their DC as a weapon and use contact as a tool for 'payback'

Surely 'equality' depends on both the Father and Mother.

My husband is brilliant with our children, he can be their favourite however when I was in hospital for 3 days two of them really struggled emotionally with my absence, when their Dad is away for months bar a short period of adjustment they don't even blink and I don't observe any change in them when he goes away for short period of time. He is missed but their is no impact upon their behaviour.

This is more a case though of equality not meaning the same in my opinion. I would not be as good as Mum without the support of my husband/children's dad and I would say that's vice versa however our roles are very different. We are equal in importance in our children's lives but not the same and how you define which of us is more important would depend on what is seen as more important at that time.

MerlotAndMe Wed 30-Jan-13 11:31:47

Yeh, depends on individual set of parents.

Even before we split up my children's father was not an equal parent to me. I bore them, delivered them, breastfed them while he sat on his arse with the tv remote control and a tube of pringles, shshshshing me. They have his sur name though. ( [grr] ) I was getting up in the night for two of them at one point. When I left he wouldn't pay maintenance although he wanted to see them about every six weeks or so. He truly believes he is equally important, he believes in fact that he's more important, that all the work should be mine because I'm worthless compared to him.........but of course as I read in a fortune cookie once, all your rights are found a mere mile beyond your responsibilities. (something like that).

And that sums it up for me.

Astr0naut Wed 30-Jan-13 11:42:59

It's a tricky one.

As the mother doing the birth/bf/off work for 9 months thing, I was definitely the one who worked hardest in the beginning, although Dh did all he could.

Now the kids are older, I would say we parent equally, and I would never say that either of us id best for the children, although there do seem to be differences in the ways the children approach us and we them.

I come home from work and immediately nteract with kids; dh bustles about in the kitchen, then goes and gets changed.

Dh can read a paper; I get jumped on.

Neither kid gets jealous when the other is with him; all hell breaks loose if I cuddle one (dcs are 3 and 14 months)

I understand instantly what kids what; dh takes ages, cue much hysteria.

I'm still the first out of bed in the middle of the night, most of the time.

5madthings Wed 30-Jan-13 11:45:54

Eliza there is a very good reason for a fathers girlfriend/partner not to co-sleep because it is a SIDS risk!

I think dads are OK to co-sleep on their own but the new partner should not as she is not the child's mother.

Crinkle77 Wed 30-Jan-13 11:52:38

I have to agree with the OP. It is not fair that a father may only get to see their child one weekend in two. Although I do recognise that there are some fathers who should not see their children for whatever reason and that there have to be boundaries in place so the child has a good routine but it does seem unfair that if the father pays maintenance and has been a good dad that they hardly get to see them.

jellybeans Wed 30-Jan-13 12:01:38

Great post 2aminthemorning

CSLewis Wed 30-Jan-13 14:42:29

There seem to be a number of assumptions underlying the OP and many others on here; mainly that 'equality' means 'sameness'; that being a mother is no different from being a father; that 'parenting' is the same whether being done by the mother or father.

I disagree with all these assumptions. That does not mean that I don't think that mothers and fathers have equally important roles to play in the upbringing of their children: it does mean that I think those roles are different, because men and women are different. And I think that a child's mother is uniquely suited to being the primary carer of her child. This website is not called "Person-Net" for a reason.

I know I'm going to be accused of being gender-deterministic, or of vilifying mothers who return to work and leave their babies with professional childminders. This is not my intention at all; however, I do believe that it minimises the importance of the maternal bond - and therefore of women - to state that if a baby's physical needs are being met by a competent, or even caring, child-care professional, then this is qualitatively the same as that baby being cared for by its mother, or father, or other personally, consistently 'attached' adult.

I think a whole generation of women have believed the lie that they are not equal to men unless they are financially independent; that they have little value, or right to respect, unless they are contributing to the economy directly via the workforce.

In order to be happy with their new role as "same-as-men",women have then had to be convinced that their babies are just as well-off in child-care as with them. Does anyone on here really believe that? That a child-care professional is as good as a mother? And if they don't believe that, how has it happened that women end up in a position where they are forced to sacrifice their child's welfare for the sake of their own financial independence?

That was a rhetorical question; I really don't believe that a mother would deliberately make a choice she thought was detrimental to her child if there were other alternatives available; but the whole set-up of society now makes it very difficult to support a family, let alone own a home, unless both parents are working. And if both parents work, their children are in child-care. And in order to justify that 'necessity', women need to convince themselves that qualitatively their children are no worse off than if they were at home, being cared for by a parent (preferably, according to a few thousand years of evolution, their mother). And by accepting that bit of double-think, they devalue and do themselves out of the most important job any human being has ever had to do in the history of the world: raising the next generation of humankind. And our government is perpetuating that double-think by constantly pressuring women to return to work so that they can also provide a job for whoever will be looking after their children.

Apologies for the rant. Apologies to all whose I've just offended. Not my intention.

Astr0naut Wed 30-Jan-13 15:00:11

Women have had to work while their children are small for centuries. And even if they didn't, in teh days before washing machines, supermarkets etc, how much qulaity time did they actually spend with their children?It's only a select few that were able to give up work when they had children, because their husbands earned enough to support them. Neither of my grandmothers were able to stop working - and they weren't exactly career women. One was a seamstress, the other worked in a factory. They relied on other family members to look after their children.

Personally, I prefer working to looking after under 5s all day. I love my kids, but god, it can be boring and frustrating. I think I'm a better parent for not spending all day with them - they get my full attention when I'm home. I don't even feel guilty anymore; if dh doesn't feel guilty for working, then why should I?

CSLewis: throughout human history, women who have been able to share the hard grind of infant care with others have done so. Wet nurses, nannies, grandmothers, elderly aunties, older siblings, servants have all been involved in looking after small children. This insistence that mothers must devote their lives to the care of small infants 24/7 is about keeping women subordinate and dependent.

However, this isn't to say that separated fathers should be able to have their DC whenever they like, just because they say so and consider they have 'rights'. Nearly always, when a mother is resisting eg overnight contact for a small baby, it is because the man has not shown himself capable of putting his own interests second to anyone else's so she is worried about the wellbeing of the infant in the father's care. A really good father would be able to put the child first and wait for a while, and build up contact slowly. One who spent his time, when he was still the mother's partner, abusing her and/or doing fuck all in the way of domestic work or childcare is likely to be asserting his 'rights' for reasons that are nothing to do with the welfare of the child. It will be either to punish the mother or to pose as Dad Of The Year in front of his new partner.

Daddelion Wed 30-Jan-13 15:41:26

'Nearly always, when a mother is resisting eg overnight contact for a small baby, it is because the man has not shown himself capable of putting his own interests second to anyone else's so she is worried about the wellbeing of the infant in the father's care'

Is there any evidence for this or is it anecdotal?

Emilythornesbff Wed 30-Jan-13 15:44:28

No, it's all made up by emittered women who want to control their ex partners. wink

Daddelion Wed 30-Jan-13 15:54:07


I'd thought the truth would have been somewhere in the middle.

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 30-Jan-13 21:00:33

5mad, baby's who co sleep with just dad and not mum have a higher SIDS risk than those co sleeping with the mum.something to do with the mothers difference in sleeping with tinys around.

I apsolutly can not remember where I saw that but I expect it will pop into my head at 4am when I'm trying to sleep

5madthings Wed 30-Jan-13 21:01:57

Thankssock I wasn't sure so they shouldn't co-slerp with just dad or with dad and new girlfriend then!

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 30-Jan-13 21:11:03

On most of the info I found about co sleeping they said keep the baby on the side of mum that is away from whom ever she is sharing a bed with,round about way of saying not in the middle.

Apparently most chaps tend to sleep differently to a mother of a tiny I'm guessing its heavier as opposed to the one ear open thing

Wallison Wed 30-Jan-13 21:13:32

Erm, quite apart from the risk of SIDS (which I agree is an important consideration of course), surely it's just fucking supremely inappropriate for a husband's new girlfriend (or a mother's new boyfriend) to sleep in the same bed as their partner's baby? Ffs. I cannot believe that any parent of either gender would think this the right thing to do.

MariusEarlobe Wed 30-Jan-13 21:18:00

I think it depends on the mother's and fathers individually.

My ex hasn't seen the children in 12 months, he's never paid maintenance, can't be bothered to turn up.

When we were together he wouldn't take her to school as he was busy playing computer games, left her unsupervised and wouldn't do any feeds or changes.

He is not equal to me no.

But there are rubbish mothers too and the same applies.

In the case of normal parents then yes they can both be equal and shared contact. I don't think a father should be able to force ff just so he can have baby overnight though.

5madthings Wed 30-Jan-13 21:21:09

wallison I totally agree but some have said its OK! I don't agree at all but if you don't agree morally/appropriateness etc then the SIDS risk is a bloody good reason not to do it!

elizaregina Wed 30-Jan-13 21:24:38

5mads I agree they shouldnt sleep with a baby; but what is to stop them?

You can imagine even if they started with the best intentions not too - baby cries wont get settled etc....really really horrifically tired in the middle of the night beyond anything....just bring the baby in the bed.

Personally if I got together with a man with a NB which I dont think I would ever do, I wouldnt want to upset the mum and encroach on her NB baby in any way shape or form.

5madthings Wed 30-Jan-13 21:32:26

Nothing is to stop them but maybe if they knew the increased SIDS risk that would make them stop and think? You would bloody hope so.

I can't see myself getting together with a man with a newborn as I would question where his priorities lay, I want a man who would put his child first and I wouldn't want yo encroach on the mum and her relationship with her newborn either!

elizaregina Wed 30-Jan-13 21:37:46

If a woman was standing by a man trying to demand a new baby off its distraught mother that they cuckholded - I wouldnt trust them to do anything properly.

Wallison Wed 30-Jan-13 21:53:06

eliza, if that situation (crying baby, impossible to settle etc) did arise, then the OW should get out of the bed and sleep on the sofa. No way should anybody share a bed with a child that isn't theirs.

5madthings Wed 30-Jan-13 21:57:29

Exactly Eliza and even if it was an amicable split I still wouldn't be with a man that didn't treat the mother of his child with respect and kindness. I would expect him to put the babies needs first and work on building a relationship with his baby.

elizaregina Wed 30-Jan-13 22:32:37

same here, wouldnt that also be so much more endearing and attractive - assuming it was an amicable split....than a man trying to give someone a nervous break down through un reasonable demands.

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 30-Jan-13 23:01:29

Can I just jump in and say I was not saying its ok for any adult to co sleep with a child that is not there's because I don't think it is.

And I agree no way would I evolve myself with a bloke who ditched his pregnant or new mum partner, its far to easy to have the same thing done to you.

5madthings Wed 30-Jan-13 23:10:34

sock don't worry I didn't think you were saying that smile

And I think we agree that a man that abandons his pregnant wife or doesnt treat the mother of his child with respect and kindness is a bit of a turn off tbh!

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 30-Jan-13 23:57:21

I just noticed I put evolve instead of involve, it made me giggle.

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