is it sexist to think that mothers generally (though not always) make the best primary parent

(37 Posts)
Twiglett Tue 23-Sep-08 16:22:33

in terms of (again stereotypical) women's strength in juggling, negotiating etc and the fact that there is a closer physical bond with carrying and suckling the child.

I am not saying that in many instances fathers don't make great primary care-givers, nor am I saying that mothers have to be the primary care-giver.

But does equality mean we must ignore physiological and psychological differences?

What d'ya think?

charmander Tue 23-Sep-08 16:23:47

yes it is sexist

fryalot Tue 23-Sep-08 16:25:26

I think that people are good at different things.

I do think that women generally tend to be better at being the number one parent, just as they tend to make better nurses and primary school teachers.

That doesn't mean that men can't do these jobs, or that ALL women are better than ALL men. There will be men (plenty of them probably ) who are better than certain women.

I think that men are generally better suited to physical jobs as well, but not in EVERY instance.


RambleOn Tue 23-Sep-08 16:27:03

Just the fact that you have to say the phrase 'generally, but not always' means that it is sexist.

I don't know, clearly being able to rock a baby to sleep, drink a glass of champagne, chop vegetables and read to a 3 year old all at the same time is a very useful skill but think that some children may in fact be happier waiting for a bit and then getting some full attention. I suppose what i am trying to see is that the women are probably better at looking after children the way we do but who's to say that this is the best one

RedOnHerHead Tue 23-Sep-08 16:28:31

I suppose it is the way nature intended

Twiglett Tue 23-Sep-08 16:29:07

so is it not more sexist to refuse to believe there is any difference between the genders?

FabioVicePeeperPlopper Tue 23-Sep-08 16:29:45

I think there's an argument women make the best primary parent because women tend to want to give up work to be with the children more readily than men.

Not true of all women, onviously.

And also, parents who adopt don't carry or suckle (oh BLEAH term!) their dcs, which doesn't make them lesser primary parents than those who don't. I know that's not what you're wholly suggesting in the OP, but I think it's a relevant point.

The Q of equality ignoring phys. and psych neeeds - surely equality means having the freedom to do what you like in terms of being a sahm or wohm or, if you so chooose, a womble?

georgimama Tue 23-Sep-08 16:29:47

No it isn't sexist, it is biology. Unless biology is sexist.

Twiglett Tue 23-Sep-08 16:30:50

rambleon .. the point of 'generally but not always' is because all attributes are on a continuum .. some are considered more prevalent (mode) within the female gender and others within the male gender

that is not in itself sexist

georgimama Tue 23-Sep-08 16:31:33

I don't think it even comes down to who prefers to be the stay at home parent (is this a SAHM v WOHM thread by stealth because if so I'm not playing) - neither of us are stay at home parents, but I still think I am the primary care giver. It seems entirely natural to me that should be so. Doesn't mean DH doesn't, or shouldn't, help.

daftpunk Tue 23-Sep-08 16:32:02

i think mums make the best carers in the first few months..(.maybe up to 6 months,) but after that i don't think it makes much difference tbh.

Twiglett Tue 23-Sep-08 16:32:06

suckle is a valid term

and now I'm singing the womble song in my head .. cheers fabio

Twiglett Tue 23-Sep-08 16:33:12

this is most definately not a SAHM / WOHM thread

this is a 'what is sexism?' and 'there really is a difference between men and women, why can't we acknowledge and be proud of it' thread

RedOnHerHead Tue 23-Sep-08 16:33:30

Men are different to women - I'm not sexist - they are!

FabioVicePeeperPlopper Tue 23-Sep-08 16:34:32


I aim to please.

Suckle is a BLEAH word, I meant, not term.

Underground, overground, wohming free,
The Wimmin's Collective Working Mothers Group are we....

I think what is sexist is to go from differences in nature and behaviour to an assertion about what gender is best in a certain role. It is sort of like saying that we have to be nurses rather than doctors because we are more "caring", when in fact the NHS is crying out for more empathetic doctors.

EffiePerine Tue 23-Sep-08 16:37:59

tiny babies: I honestly think mothers are best, but with fathers doing stuff as well. As they get older it really evens out. DH and I share childcare and DS (nearly 2) thrives on our different styles (I hope). I am more cuddly, DH is better at the fun stuff.

FabioVicePeeperPlopper Tue 23-Sep-08 16:38:57

Oh yes, men and women v different, and to overlook that for the sake of equality v dumb imo.

Not sure I would go as far as to say generally it means women make a better primary parent, but probably a lot to do with why women tend to be.

...Making all use of the telephone and the doing the dinner and signing school forms and sorting the new mortgage and I have to make a project for school tomorrow mum and therefore old yogurt pots and eggboxes they find,
Stuff that the everyday bloke leaves behind....

Anna8888 Tue 23-Sep-08 16:41:43

No it isn't sexist. The early years biological bond between mother and child is a scientific fact, not a cultural construction.

I was at a beginning of year parent-teacher meeting at my daughter's school yesterday. This is a class of children born in 2004, so aged between 3.8 and 4.8 at the beginning of the school year in September. The teacher commented (in entirely neutral terms) on the large number of children in the class who still had a biberon (bottle) and a doudou (comforter) and told the parents that by the end of the school year, none of the children would be using either any longer.

Bottles and comforters are cultural mother substitutes. Children of this age are still, biologically, extremely close to their mothers.

Bluebutterfly Tue 23-Sep-08 16:41:57

I think that one of the main problems with the feminist movement is that in a drive to ensure that women could and would be taken seriously in the then predominantly male workplace (a good thing), the role of carer and nurturer that women had traditionally done, was given EVEN LESS status than it had previously had, making it seem like an unworthy and "second-class" way to spend one's time. Women may or may not be biologically programmed for that role, but I think that it is the extremely low status that makes it a contentious choice for both men and women to stay at home with children in our more "equal" times.

Also explains why nurses and primary school teachers are often undervalued and underpaid: caring and nurturing is just not sexy...

I actually don't believe men and women are psychologically different. There are as many differences between men and men as there are women and men.

so yes, imo it is sexist to think that women make the best primary carer.

BlingLovin Tue 23-Sep-08 16:43:13

"Not sure I would go as far as to say generally it means women make a better primary parent, but probably a lot to do with why women tend to be."

I would change this sentence slightly to read,
"not sure I would go as far as to say generally it means women make a better primary parent, but probably a lot to do with why women tend to be the primary parent."

Seems to me it's not that women or men are better, but that women tend to take naturally take on the responsibility more. Doesn't mean they're always the better primary parent. I think when men have to take on the responsibility - for whatever reason, by choice or circumstance - they are as likely to be good primary parents as women.

yes but Anna i know a little girl who is very close to both parents but uses her dad as a comforter in the way that my ds uses me. She was breastfed but her dad has been the primary caregiver since she was one (she is now almost two)

Anna8888 Tue 23-Sep-08 16:47:59

Is she still breast fed?

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