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surprised by my friends views

(16 Posts)
kiery Fri 02-Sep-11 10:25:43

Yesterday, while having coffee with my friends the subject of the death of a partner came up.

I was slightly taken aback by my friends' views that the death of a wife and mother was worse on a family than the death of a husband and father. When I asked them to explain, they said that a man is completely lost in the realms of looking after the house and when young children are involved their hearts really go out to them and they need all the support they can get. The woman can cope, because I know I could.

Sadly in the last couple of years we know of two families that have suffered this bereavement: one having lost a wife and mother and the other having lost husband and father. My friends were in agreement that they felt more for the husband/father left than the family with the mother left as sole parent. I was surprised by this, as I think the death of a parent and partner must be devastating and the partner left must need all the emtional support we can give, whichever role they have.

This opened up to discussing whether boys need more emotional support, and especially as children. I found boys are expected to just get on with it and they could sometimes struggle whereas girls in my experience tended to be a little bit more self reliant and independent, but treated more sensitively. This is just my observation as I only have dd. I know that this is generalising, and there will be differences in circumsatnces and situations.

What do you think?

JosieRosie Fri 02-Sep-11 10:31:36

Interesting and quite sad sad
In my experience, it's girls and women who are expected to just get on with it, and boys and men who tend to be more indulged emotionally. I think some people still feel that it's a huge earth-shattering burden for a man to have to do most/all of the housework and childcare! Whereas they see it as part and parcel of being a women, so not a burden at all, just what you're expected to do hmm
I think it's also quite a sexist presumption to think that a man would have dificulty coping just because he's a man. I think this is part of the idea that men need tending and hand-holding and 'just can't be expected' to get on with life. I'm not for a second minimising how horrible it would be for anyone to lose a partner or a parent, but in my experience, people tend to expect less of men in this situations.

Hardgoing Fri 02-Sep-11 10:38:35

I suppose plenty of women do just get on with it as they are, in the majority of cases, the ones left on their own with the children through divorce or separation.

However, I don't see all men are necessarily incapable of running a household or looking after children. I used to find it a bit upsetting that the house ran fine without me when I was working out of the home very hard, children got to school on time, in correct uniform, ate meals (not what I would have chosen, but hardly starving), children went to the hairdressers, doctors, whatever. My husband can care for the children very well, I don't think he's especially talented at it, but he doens't have a mental barrier about doing stuff like booking the dentist or taking them to ballet classes (or trying to join mother and baby swimming, that was quite funny) which some men do seem to struggle with. He would also find people to help with stuff he was stuck on, just as I go to the garage for an oil change rather than doing it myself.

The house would be messy, but it's like that now.

I think coping with the loss of a loved partner must be devastating, especially with your children are young, but at any age.

kiery Fri 02-Sep-11 10:40:31

Yes JosieRosie I think woman can be harder on other women than on men in the same situation. There are many a time I have heard people moan and complain about a man's actions but blame the wife/girlfirend. I completely agree that it is a sexist presumption that a man couldn't cope with the demands of parenting and running a house as well a paid employment.

Hardgoing Fri 02-Sep-11 10:41:41

However, I think the key thing here is practice. If you don't get to do stuff and be responsible for stuff, it can seem daunting. It's rather like some older women who relied heavily on their partners to do things like pay bills or fill up the petrol in the car (like my granny). People do this stuff all the time, but if you have not personally ever done it and relinquished responsibility to someone else for doing it, then there's a mental barrier to be overcome before you realise that, actually, it's no big deal.

margerykemp Fri 02-Sep-11 11:32:34

Dp and i have had the 'what if one of us died convo'. It is true that my death would have more impact. Ie he would not be able to do his job and care for dcs so he would have to quit work and would have to move house.

Reverse it and our lives would pretty much carry on as before. Sad but true.

ThePosieParker Fri 02-Sep-11 13:47:58

I agree with your friend. Mothers (in my circle) are much more important that fathers with younger children and until men do their fair share it will always be the case. Fathers, in our society, routinely fuck off and never look back at their children and so it's no wonder that women are expected to, and can often, cope alone.

jenniec79 Mon 05-Sep-11 20:39:08

Is this not the same stereotype of men that was in those awful "even a man can do it" ads a while ago?

I've only seen it happen once, and it was the father of one of my best mates who was left looking after 2 girls aged 8 and 10ish. He did everything just fine (I do remember my mum scheduling the "period talk" for a day they came round to play - in retrospect by design and agreement!)

SlinkingOutsideInSocks Wed 07-Sep-11 06:52:40

Thinking comparatively of older bereaved people as opposed to those with kids - it was interesting to see how differently my Dad was treated/looked after, when my Mum died, vs one of their best friends who was left a widow when her husband died.

Dad was invited round for dinner to allmsorts of people's places for ages afterwards, and had 'the casserole widows'* as he called them, dropping off meals and all sorts of baking for him.

Contrast this with J who had barely any of that treatmen, because of course she can look after herself and cook herself a meal any old time... hmm And it can be harder - in a way - for older folk, since the death of a partner can mean a lot of loneliness.

And the thing is, my Dad is perfectly capable, he isn't one of these men who has no idea, or crumpled in the face of it all - and his big group of friends knew that, but still, he's a man: ergo he must need help.

*That reads as if he wasn't appreciative - he was incredibly so, and is so capable that he regularly hosts big dinner parties for all the people who've been there for him since Mum died.

mnistooaddictive Wed 07-Sep-11 08:06:17

A friend of mine is a single dad with 2 small children ( his wife died). He has all sorts of problems he didn't expect and I think in done ways it is harder on him.

mnistooaddictive Wed 07-Sep-11 08:07:06

Some ways I mean

An0therName Wed 07-Sep-11 09:10:12

I do think whoever is the primary carer of the DCs and probably would do more house things it would be quite hard to loose them - especially for the children - clearly in most cases this is the women

cecilyparsley Fri 09-Sep-11 00:57:55

perhaps men get more sympathy partly because having to take on the 'womens work' is ^ perceived ^ as a drop in status?

BobBanana Fri 09-Sep-11 10:49:54

Message withdrawn

SinicalSal Mon 12-Sep-11 16:25:13

I have noticed that widowers tend to remarry much quicker than widows.

I don't begrudge anyone 'getting on with their life' but men seem to do it much more quickly. Why, I wonder?

lovecat Mon 12-Sep-11 22:34:02

DH's mum died when he was 12, leaving his dad to bring up 3 children in the 1970's.

Even now his dad's wife will say (in tones of wonderment) 'he brought up 3 children all on his own, you know (actually he farmed the youngest 2 out to live with his parents for a year and then employed a series of housekeepers)! No-one would have blamed him if he'd put them in a home!' shockshockshock

I think DH would struggle initially if I were to pop my clogs and going forward not everything would be done to my standards (dentistry, vegetables and homework to name but a few) but he would cope and so would DD. Despite what it says on those FUCKING posters for "I don't know how she does it" - it might not be easy, but men CAN do it and often do.

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