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Are mothers and fathers equal?

(17 Posts)
Beccarollover Sun 02-May-04 23:37:03

Ive just spent an evening with friends in a lively debate about parenting...

Would like to know your opinions

Do you think neither mother or father is more important?

I was of the mind that while there are many many many wonderful fathers and a fathers role is VERY important when it really comes down to it, over time, across the world the mothers role is more crucial - before the days of formula babies would not be nourished without a mother.

Statistically do more fathers walk out on children than mothers?

Do you think that there is a special bond with the mother that isnt there/isnt as strong with a father (not for a second belittling the role of the father though) just that there is something *extra* in the mother/child bond.

My friend (the opposing side) said that its completely 50/50 and it wouldnt matter any more if a child was left motherless than fatherless and the idea that the child is *usually* better off with mother is just old fashioned. It didnt matter about the mother being able to sustain the baby any more as there is formula milk so that makes the mother and father totally equal.

What is your opinion?

This stemmed from a "would you die for your partner" debate ! Interesting evening

baldrick Sun 02-May-04 23:43:47

I feel both have different things to offer. Whilst mothers perhaps to more of the nurturing, fathers have a different but equally important role...yes some fathers do walk out on their children but my dh has supported us all for the past 11 years (even when I took 5 years off work), bith financially and otherwise)..have to agree with your friend, there are many equally caring dads out there, who need to be rcognised just as much

carlyb Sun 02-May-04 23:45:17

Sounds like a fun evening!!

I think that it depends on the mother and father involved. My father was not very good at his 'father' role, so therefore my mother was much more important to me and had a stronger bond. But then I am sure that somebody with a naff mother, good father could say them same.

Speaking purely for my own situation, because my dh is a great dad I think that his bond with both of us is equally as important. I think he looks to dh as a definante male role model, whereas with me it is for things he needs. So we each have our place, neither more important.

The only thing I would say is that dh doesn't have the same physical yearning for ds. If ds is upset, hungry, distressed I feel desperate to get to him - something that I think mother nature instills. But then can the same be said for *all* mothers? who knows! I am confused now.
What an interesting debate!!

Beccarollover Sun 02-May-04 23:46:17

I agree totally that fathers have an awful lot to offer and Im not belittling that bond - I just dont think its 50/50 - friends opinion is that there is no difference between mother or father.

Beccarollover Sun 02-May-04 23:48:52

While we were "debating" there seemed to be two threads - one was OVERALL across the world, across all time, taking into consideration bad example of both mothers and fathers generally were parents equal - this is the part that I thought taking everything into consideration and across the world and history that a mother was more important.

The personal circumstance bit I think all depends on the individuals - for example Im more of the mind to err on the side of the mother as my DD's father is a tosspot and so is my own so I havent had that many positive father role models - although DP is brilliant father to DS I feel this has been a "learned" behaviour as opposed to instinct.

essbee Mon 03-May-04 01:03:41

Message withdrawn

nightowl Mon 03-May-04 01:40:27

My dad was never been interested in me and saw me (and still does) about 3 times a year. He even used to tell me how my half sister was his favorite daughter.

ds's dad, does see him for about 15 mins a day, but only out of duty and he is a complete waste of space, buys him pound shop rubbish for christmas and birthdays (whilst spending hundreds on his gf) and is no good role model at all.

dd's dad has never seen her, wont accept her existence, and has told all our mutual friends that she isnt his.

I think the bond between mother and child is probably a lot stronger but bear in mind that i have only ever seen one side of this. I do think however that ds's father's attitude towards him has probably made him turn out differently to how he would have done with a male in his life. ds is very gentle and loving but scared of his own shadow. He doesnt play rough and tumble games and does have some quite feminine traits...ive always put this down to the fact that hes been surrounded by women most of his life. i know a lot of women whose partners have no contact with the children but i know of no women who have ever left theirs (although i know this happens). I would say 70-30 if i had to put a percentage on it.

Freckle Mon 03-May-04 09:01:06

In my own situation, I would say that it is probably 50/50 - especially now the children are older. When young, then I was definitely the one they wanted/needed. But perhaps that was because of the way dh and I shared the parenting job - I was a sahm for all their early childhood, so obviously was around more to cater for their needs. Whose to say which bond would be greater if I'd gone out to work and dh had been a sahd?

Now the children are older, they are turning to their father more and more, although I don't think anything will break the bond they have with me (roll on those teenage years to test *that* little theory ).

I would say that each parent (according to their role - carer/provider) is equally important, but probably the mother is more so in the eyes of the child.

marthamoo Mon 03-May-04 09:11:58

The logical, fair part of me says 50/50 - Dads are of equal importance. My heart says Mums have superiority. That's terrible isn't it?

tallulah Mon 03-May-04 10:27:02

Haven't they proved scientifically that men are incapable of doing 2 things at once because of the way their brains are wired? Women can do this & it is essential for looking after little children. Not saying men can't look after little children of course, but women are programmed to do so. That make sense?

(Fathers are important & of course it depends on the individual- there are crap mothers & brilliant fathers- but on the whole I would say that mothers are more important.)

GeorginaA Mon 03-May-04 10:48:11

Funnily enough, me and dh were having a similar conversation last night as he's reading a psychology book at the moment!

I think it would depend very much on the age/stage of the child, as apparently as a baby they think they are God (they feel hungry, all of a sudden they're fed)... then as they become more aware, mother is God (although they don't necessarily understand the different bits of mum are the same person!), then their world view expands to include dad and then eventually (unfortunately) they realise their parents aren't infallible It's all different stages of separation from the parents and becoming independent.

So I guess what I'm waffling about means the importance of mum over dad or dad over mum would very much depend on the stage of the child. They have different needs at different times.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 03-May-04 10:48:31

Personally I think that mothers and fathers play roles of differing importance at specific stages in a childs life. A baby really needs a mum but once they're weaned off the breast (that's if the child is being fed that way), then daddy's are equally important. I think my dd would really feel the absence of her dad, she even looks for him when he goes to work, imagine waking in the wee hours to find a tiny face pressed against yours going 'daddy daddy???'

motherinferior Mon 03-May-04 11:05:08

I think it's impossible to take this question out of the culture we live in, where a 'good' father is one who does about a third of what every mother is expected to do 'naturally'; and also where dads are expected to play and do the fun stuff a lot more than mothers.

My own view is that if a child has two active, involved co-parents, that's lovely. But in any case I don't see why both those co-parents should be male.

Bit off-topic, aren't I?

eddm Mon 03-May-04 11:27:39

Good point MI. Men are, in our culture, always praised lavishly for doing the things that mothers are expected to do. Friends keep telling me how 'good' dh is for changing so many nappies, getting up with ds in the night, etc. etc. No-one's ever suggested I'm 'good' for doing the same.
Beccarollover, I agree with you that over history and across the world mothers are more important. Men do, as a group, find it easier to leave children than mothers. Talking specifics, I knew one woman who left her children because her husband was violent towards her but oddly enough a great dad (who lived in the same block of flats as his parents so they were on hand to help with kids too). She didn't have anywhere to go (this was 1970s) so felt the kids were better with their dad. She felt desperately sad and guilty about this for the rest of her life. And she never told the kids why she'd had to leave, she put up with them blaming her and never breathed a word, even when they were in their 30s. And she went out and scrubbed floors on top of her day job to pay for her daughter's stage school. Find me a dad who would do all that.

coppertop Mon 03-May-04 11:30:25

As a SAHM I do most of the childcare while dh gets to do the fun stuff. I didn't have any positive male role models while growing up but strongly believe that a single father could do just as well as a single mother could. You only have to look on Mumsnet to see what a great job some single fathers can do.

eddm Mon 03-May-04 11:43:43

Yes, some dads do a great job and some women aren't very good at being mothers. But in general, women do and have always done either all the childcare or the lion's share. There may be individuals who differ from the general rule but I still think mothers are more important to children.

Earlybird Mon 03-May-04 12:22:42

I think it's more to do with who is the child's primary caregiver, and who is more emotionally nurturing in the home. Would think that in SAHD situations, that the father would be the one the child relies on more.

I'm due to meet old friends this week, who are parents to twin ds. One parent goes out to earn money, the other parent stays home with the children. Will be interesting to observe the family, as both parents are men who found a surrogate to give birth for them. I'm curious to see if the boys seem to be lacking a strong female presence in their lives - though obviously, being with them for an afternoon will give a limited view.....

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