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?

FabioVicePeeperPlopper Tue 23-Sep-08 16:51:03

er, Bling, is this the time for pedantry?

foothesnoo Tue 23-Sep-08 16:53:10

How are we defining primary parent? As a person who stays at home with the children?

Twiglett Tue 23-Sep-08 16:53:19

no .. this is surely the time to remember you're a womble remember You^'^e a womble remember you're a womble remember You^'^e a womble remember-ember-ember what a womble-omble-omble you are

BlingLovin Tue 23-Sep-08 16:53:59

Oops - although I can be a pedant - I was actually being lazy... didn't feel like formulating a whole thought of my own when yours almost summed up what I was trying to say? Or was what you were trying to say the same as what I was trying to say? [if you get through that sentence, well done!]

I thought your point was that women tend to be better caregivers because of their nature, while my point was not that they're better, but that they more naturally step up because of their nature. This may or not make them better?

Am I just losing it completely and should retire back to the piles of work I've been doing today?

foothesnoo Tue 23-Sep-08 17:00:16

Ok have read the thread and find it bizarre. The definition of primary parent seems to range from filling in school forms and knowing where the socks are to being the one the child turns to when ill.

Are you really saying that women across the board are better at all of this than men are? Then yes, I think it's sexist.

Why do you have to define one parent as primary? Why not equal, doing different things in their own ways?

Sycamoretree Tue 23-Sep-08 17:02:10

Well, my DH is a SAHD whilst I'm off earning the big bucks. This isn't so much choice and circumstances. I'm very happy with the arrangement, as we could not afford to lose my salary, even if DH was working, so it's him or a nanny/childminder, and I know which I'd prefer. The kids are 1 and 3 and he does brilliantly with them, but he's a very patient soul and I know not all men would be able to do what he does.

Having said all that - I would not have felt so comfortable with him as the primary care giver when both LO's were new born to say, 6 months, because I firmly believe there is some kind of neurotic natural hyper-alertness that exists in a new mother which makes them more instinctively sensitive to a baby's needs. Even if we don't realise it at the time...feeding of course is a big thing, but I found that I would be meticulous about making sure every eventuality was catered for, for eg if we left the house, whereas DH would often go out with the sun shining, be caught in a downpour, but not have the raincover, a blanket, or anything to protect DD/DS. He'd also forget to check temp of food or bath water...and was never as careful about sterilizing etc as I was.

Of course it was a lot more relaxed 2nd time around, and once babes hit 9-10 months they are pretty resilient little things and there's nothing much I worry about now in terms of be being able to do it better then DH, IYSWIM.

RambleOn Tue 23-Sep-08 20:55:17

arrgh Twig - I'd finally got the bloody womble tune out of my head by 8 o'clock, then I've come back on this thread grin

ForeverOptimistic Tue 23-Sep-08 21:07:42

I disagree. I have been a SAHM since having ds four years ago, it is only in the last year that I have felt that I am as good at parenting as dh. When ds was smaller dh had far more patience and was much of a "natural parent" than I was.

Lovesdogsandcats Tue 07-Oct-08 20:53:31

Well I believe that no, it is not sexist.I find that a lot of men, when their parenting is very good, it is usually inconsistent, with a hell of a lot of negatives to then outweigh the good episodes.

On the few occasions I have witnessed the man being the better parent, it has been when there was something seriously ammiss in the mother.

Fairynufff Thu 29-Jan-09 17:30:29

Yes it is very sexist. My husband is an equal parent in every way and has grieved since they were born because he is the higher earner and had to leave them to go to work. He used to take nappy sacs in his briefcase to sniff them when they were babies. He sets up a shrine of photos on his desk every morning and always gets up to them in the night. They cry out for him when they are hurt or have a bad dream. Obviously he isn't typical but just because most men don't doesn't mean they can't.
Lovesdogsandcats - I know a few brilliant dads and their wives are all normal mums. Just different experiences.

sagacious Sun 08-Feb-09 16:18:30

I'm sorry but snurk at "He used to take nappy sacs in his briefcase to sniff them when they were babies."

Really?

I can think of far better smells than a plastic bag tbh.

policywonk Sun 08-Feb-09 16:26:55

(Old thread alert!)

Mostly sexist I think. It's self-reinforcing - women tend to do most of the care-giving, so they tend to be better at it (in the way that people who do anything regularly tend to be better at it than people who do it less often).

But I don't think there's any innate reason why women should be better carers, certainly not once oxytocin has left the system (ie at the end of breastfeeding).

Breasfeeding is the difficult issue here IMO - I always wanted to BF on demand, and this is obviously not possible for most women in paid employment.

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