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Caught in the middle! Dad as important as Mum??

(50 Posts)
BigHairyGruffalo Mon 18-Jul-11 21:52:30


Not a parent myself but caught in a difficult situation between two friends that are. Bit of back story: Friend A is a single Mum to 2 dcs. The dcs are quite close in age and she has been alone since very soon after the second was born. She has coped fantastically well, she is very independent and is now very much of the ‘I don’t need a man’ camp. Friend B also has 2 dcs, both born within her happy, stable marriage. Friend B’s DH is a very hands-on Dad who clearly adores his kids and would do anything for them.

A few weeks ago (around Father’s Day), friends A and B were having a discussion about what they were doing at the weekend etc. Friend B mentioned that needed to buy a Father’s Day card for the children to give to their Dad, as they are too little (this sounds insensitive, but Friend A has never shown any jealousy or problems with any other Dads, and Dads are not a taboo subject between A and B). Friend A then announced that Father’s Day was rubbish as children don’t really need a Dad, he is just a nice extra. Friend B said she thought that children need both a Mum and a Dad equally (obviously beyond the breastfeeding stage where a Mum is pretty essential!).

I thought that this argument would blow over quickly, but it is still going on with more and more people getting involved and taking sides and now I am being asked for my opinion, because I don’t have children so I am seen as ‘neutral’. I secretly agree with Friend B that a Dad is just as essential to a child’s upbringing as a Mum. Friend A thinks that it would be damaging for a child to be brought up without a Mum, but I see it as being equal to being brought up without a Dad. However, part of me feels that I shouldn’t say this to friend A as being a single Mum, it might make her feel bad. I don’t want to give an answer at all but I am now being pressured!

Any advice would be very much appreciated!

AgentZigzag Mon 18-Jul-11 21:55:31

Keep out of it grin

Just say 'I dunno <<shrug>>'.

skybluepearl Mon 18-Jul-11 21:56:14

can you just say you don't want to be involved in the discussion and say no more even under pressure.

FabbyChic Mon 18-Jul-11 21:57:47

Speaking as a single parent to a 2.5 year old and a 7 year old, whom I was the only parent to until now - kids are 23 and 18, I would say no they do not need a father to look up to. But, I wished they had had one that they could look up to.

My youngest 18, says that he didn't miss out on not having a father living with him at home whilst he was growing up, he is a good intelligent kid and he isn't by any means just trying to be nice.

They have a dad he just wasn't hands on after he left, or since we moved 7 years ago. He rings from time to time, maybe once every few months, and the kids haven't seen him since Christmas 2009.

I think you have to say that you have no experience of whether it affects children or not so cannot comment, or say that you believe both sets of children from a single parent family or a joint family can grow up to be grounded well brought up children.

Sassybeast Mon 18-Jul-11 21:59:54

Why would you even get involved ? It's such a ridiculous point of view from both sides. Some parents are fab, some are neglectful, abusive prats. Some parents chose to leave their kids, some parents don't have a choice. Some kids have two mums, some kids have two dads. Some kids are brought up in hugely supportive extended families, some are not.
'strokes chin and wonders if there is some sort of single mother bashing agenda from OP'
'yawns and hides thread'

fedupofnamechanging Mon 18-Jul-11 22:01:20

I think 2 parents are better than one, but only if they are good parents. One good parent is better than 1 good and 1 bad or 2 average ones. I don't think that one parent has to be female and one male. Same sex parents are just as good.

So, basically, I think it down to the quality of the parents.

Wrt your friends, B's DC have 2 good parents, A's have 1, so B's DC are better off (imo).

bubblesincoffee Mon 18-Jul-11 22:01:45

Definatly stay out of it!

What are you even thinking trying to say something in this situation!? There is no way they will ever both agree with you, and you will offend someone!

But of course Dad's are important, equally as important as Mums, especially to boys.

Friend A does an amazing job of being a Mum, but she simply can't be both. However, I wouldn't want to be the one to burst her bubble, and if she is doing a great job, then there is no reason why she can't have well rounded successful children. But my Dad was never around and as fantasic a job as my Mum did, I still missed having a Dad around! I did see him occasionaly and he provided well financially, but I can remember being extremely jealous of my best friend who was a real Daddy's girl. I would never have let my Mum know that I felt like that though, because even from a very young age I knew that would hurt her.

QueenOfToast Mon 18-Jul-11 22:03:21

I think that children NEED one stable and loving adult caregiver that they can form a secure attachment to - doesn't matter whether it's a mum or a dad; if they have more than one, then it's a bonus.

coccyx Mon 18-Jul-11 22:03:23

I was brought up with a mum and dad. He was important to me, as much as my mum, but in different ways.
He was super, but a rubbish mum or dad is as bad as each other surely

fedupofnamechanging Mon 18-Jul-11 22:03:28

That's not to say I think you should get involved. Whatever you say will be wrong to someone, so in the interests of self preservation, steer clear of giving an opinion.

Sirzy Mon 18-Jul-11 22:07:24

Every family is different and trying to force any one size fit all response to such a silly argument is daft.

In an ideal world every child would have a mummy and daddy who were both fantastic parents. We don't live in an ideal world though and sometimes it is in the best interest of the child that they don't see one parent.

Tchootnika Mon 18-Jul-11 22:11:08

It's the sort of debate that will definitely bring up interesting ideas, personal anecdotes, endless offshoot ishoos, and probably lots and lots of personal demons, but there is definitely no answer, and any attempt to get anything near one will (and probably should) bring up counter arguments and personal stories that show the opposite can be equally true.
Stay out of it, unless you enjoy endless soul searching or a good bunfight!

BigHairyGruffalo Mon 18-Jul-11 22:11:13

Thanks for all the responses. You’re right, I should definitely continue to stay out of it! I think the problem is that because I am a fair bit younger than them, I am one of the few people they both know without children.

Sassybeast I am sorry if I have caused any offence. I definitely did not intend to offend any single mothers! I was brought up by a single mother myself, which I think is perhaps why friend A is particularly pressuring me for an answer.

Thank you all!

SheCutOffTheirTails Mon 18-Jul-11 22:11:51

Stay out of it FFS

It wasn't remotely insensitive of your Friend B to mention buying a Father's Day card. I agree with Friend A that Father's Day is a load of shit, but not because fathers are "a bonus". A good father is very important.

I would once have agreed with you that mothers are fathers were equally important, and I still mostly do, but DH believes that mothers have a different, and more essential, role from fathers and in some ways I agree with him.

For instance you mention breastfeeding as though it were a by-the-by, but it's not. And nor is carrying a baby for 9 months. A mother's relationship with her children is different from a father's because her body goes into making and growing and protecting them for years. Providing sperm isn't equivalent to that. You can be father and never even know about it. But that's not true of motherhood.

That's not a popular view on Mumsnet, where the prevailing view is that men are more important than women, but I hold it nevertheless.

BigHairyGruffalo Mon 18-Jul-11 22:17:52

I have stayed out of it, and I want to remain like that. However, as this feud is getting ridiculous I just thought that maybe giving an ‘answer’ would end things more quickly. Thank you for confirming that I shouldn’t!

Mare11bp Mon 18-Jul-11 22:19:02

Keep out of it FFS.

If you want my opinion however, and having worked with adolescents the past 11 years, boys particularly do suffer if they don't have a father or father figure in their lives during the teenage years. In my opinion it can lead to offending.

Before I am flamed this is of course not the same for all boys from single parent families. Some single parents do a fantastic job of being both parents. It just happens to be the case that the majority of teenage lads I deal with have had little or no male influence in their life.

edam Mon 18-Jul-11 22:30:54

But mare, you are looking at boys who are in trouble already - you can't extrapolate back from a subset like that to make broad statements about the whole population without an awful lot of other information. It certainly doesn't establish a causal relationship. Your observation is striking but there's a shedload more work to do before it's possible to reach any conclusions from it. There might be other important common factors amongst that group, there might be a whole load of boys who don't have active fathers but who are doing absolutely fine, there might be all sorts of other stuff to take into account. Equally I'm sure everyone can cite examples of young men who are very troubled but did have active fathers.

Tchootnika Mon 18-Jul-11 22:37:11

Thank you for spelling it out so clearly and calmly, edam .
It needed to be done (again! - and I don't think I would have had the patience).

HairyFrotter Mon 18-Jul-11 22:37:30

I would keep out of it. But I think it's 2 seperate questions. I think a mum and a dad are equally important BUT kids don't NEED both. There are happy, well adjusted children brought up by either a lone mum or a lone dad.

HairyFrotter Mon 18-Jul-11 22:39:27

edam I would imagine that the fact that single parents (usually mothers) are generally worse off financially than 2 parent families might have a lot to do with it. Crime and poverty are definitely linked.

Tchootnika Mon 18-Jul-11 22:41:22

I think that's one of the points edam's made, Hairy

exoticfruits Mon 18-Jul-11 22:47:27

Keep well out of it. The DC has equal make up from both-they are equal as parents. Two are preferable, but if it is a question of one it doesn't matter which (once bfeeding is over).

MsPlaced Mon 18-Jul-11 22:47:55

"That's not a popular view on Mumsnet, where the prevailing view is that men are more important than women, but I hold it nevertheless."

Have you read anything on MN? Thats actually fucking hilarious in its delusion!!

Anyhoo, its not the same answer for all families is it? Some fathers are useless, some mothers aren;t that hot, some dads are the main care givers, mostly its the mothers though. I would have thought that generally the more people that love and care for a child the better, but that children can do perfectly well with just the one.
I can see it from both sides, brought up by a fantastic single mother with no father around, yet my DP is probably a better parent than me, and if our children could only have one of us they'd probably be better off with him. Luckily they have both though.
Definitely stay out of it though!

BabyDubsEverywhere Mon 18-Jul-11 22:49:16

I think its a shame A's kids will be growing up with the attitude that guys are basically sperm donors. Really hope she doesnt have a son, i wonder if we will see a self producing prophesy there? Just because she, like many other women have got along without a dad for their children it doesnt make them redundant. I know a couple of guys who have bought up thier children single handedly, so for them i suppose the mom would be redundant then? of course not, its a stupid comment. Id tell A that imo shes wrong, my mates know they'll only get an honest answer from me, whether they like it or not.

muminthemiddle Mon 18-Jul-11 22:54:42

Stay out of it.
I think both parties should keep their opinions to themselves tbh. There are times when I might have an opinion but I am mindful of whose company I am in and try and make sure my brain is in gear before my mouth begins to function. NB Sometimes I do fail though!

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