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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.

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.

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