Parenting; should mums back off a little?

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parenting, fathers, dads, mums, relationships, raising children, equality
Men are from Mars…

I’ve just read a fascinating post by the author Kate Figes on the spangly new mumsanddadsnet.com blog. In the post, Figes argues that mums should back off a little and let dads take on more parenting responsibility.

Figes states that she felt under huge pressure to be the perfect mother when she had her first child. Over time, however, she followed her own advice and let Mr Figes take on more of the responsibility for parenting. The result was a happier family unit and well raised children with exceptionally good teeth (I’m not going to explain why, you’ll need to read Figes blog post!).

The most telling comment Figes made, however, was this:

“I remember the resentment I felt when my daughter’s father didn’t look after her in exactly the way I wanted him to when she was a baby. It was easier to do everything myself than try and explain how.”

This got me thinking about my own relationship. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I just wouldn’t feel resentment towards my wife if she did something with the kids differently to the way I do it (For the benefit of first time readers, I should explain that I am the main carer for our two daughters. My wife is the one that works full time and so childcare is largely down to me).

parenting, equality, relationships,
…and women are from Venus but both planets are in the same solar system.

As far as I’m concerned, when my wife is looking after the little ones, she does it as she sees fit. I don’t expect her to replicate what I do and while I may offer some guidance and pointers about what I find works best, there’s no way I would tell her she was doing something “wrong”. There is after all, more than one way to travel from London to Glasgow and the same applies to raising children.

Okay, so when my wife looks after the girls she tends to be a bit more liberal with the sweets and comics. She’s a full-time working mother and wants to spoil them a bit when she is with them. I totally understand where she’s coming from. I may find it slightly irritating sometimes but I consider myself extremely lucky that’s my biggest worry!

Ultimately, I think it comes down to the expectations placed on mothers. It is both a blessing and a curse that dads are not scrutinised as heavily as mothers. It’s a blessing in that society is more accepting of men’s mistakes. It is, however, a curse in that society has lower expectations of fathers in the first place.

I’m not happy with the idea of people having low expectations of fathers. Not that I want to see men put under the same pressure as women. I’d simply like to see both mums and dads supporting and helping each other and less pressure and guilt all round.

What do you think? Can mums be a bit too hands on because they feel under pressure to be the perfect parent? Does this happen at the expense of happy, functioning family units?

Photo credits: NASA. Reproduced under Creative Commons licence. 

10 thoughts on “Parenting; should mums back off a little?”

  1. Freelance Mummy

    I totally understand the ‘perfect mother’ pressure. I didn’t even realise I was doing it until
    the Mr pointed out that even though I was meant to be having a day writing I was ‘helping’ him with J every five minutes.
    The Mr does a great job with J, but if I’m in the room I do tend to ‘correct’ what he does. Terrible.

    1. There’s a simple solution here; work in another room! Seriously though, I do feel for mums because of the pressure to be perfect. It’s not at all fair.

  2. Duncan Fisher

    I feel exactly the same – I never had any temptation to correct my partner’s parenting. I felt I had absolutely no entitlement to do so and that it would have been very inappropriate. I am fascinated by the different behaviours that mothers and fathers feel entitled to, and how this leads them both to taking actions without due consideration for the other.

    1. Glad to hear we’re on the same wavelength Duncan. I too am fascinated by the different behaviours you talk of. I’m also more than happy to challenge most of them!

  3. This is a great post and I have to say, I agree! I can be very “Oh it need to be done this way” etc etc and I am sure my darling man thinks I am a right nightmare {he’s not wrong!} but I think its because I’m so used to not being a man that actually wants to help! So its a learning curve for me too! But I have learned that my partner can do things just as well as me if I let him and in some cases….better! lol

    Thanks so much for linking up! #MadMidWeekBlogHop

    1. As ever Debs, wonderful to have you drop by for a comment and thanks for hosting #MadMidWeekBlogHop. Glad to hear you have a perfectly capable man. This parenting thing though, it’s one big learning curve for all of us!

  4. Spookily I was planning to write a post on the flip side of this at some point this week and then this popped up on my feed.

    I agree in principle, although think it’s easier said than done.

    What I’d personally be happy with is for full responsibility to be taken by the other parent, as so often it seems to be only one doing everything with no willingness to do the bad things (nappies, cleaning up, food), only the nice things. My OH takes N out on the tractor and on the farm, does the occasional drop off at nursery/meals when I’m not in. But it’s all done as a chore (and nappies – he calls his mum to come over and do the messy ones!). N’s 3. You’d think by now he’d be willing to actually agree that everything should be shared and not just some.

    1. Thanks Emma for commenting. Needless to say, I have no idea what your situation is, but it would be interesting to know if your OH had the opportunity to get heavily involved from day one? I notice a difference when dads haven’t been able to get heavily involved with their children from birth (ie other female relatives always step in so he doesn’t have to).

      Anyway, I hope you write your post! Please do let me know if you do. I’d be interested to read it.

  5. Pingback: Parenting; should mums back off a little? | Love All Dads – A Blog to Showcase Dad Blogs

  6. Excellent issue to post about. I have been writing something similar in my head for about a year but can never pin point the focus of the article because the more I think about it, the more complicated it becomes, and the more it descends into an analysis of traditional gender roles, modern masculinity, media portrayals of parenthood, societal norms, culture and traditions. Not to mention the role of that scourge of the sociologist – the individual. Well done.

    For me I have been totally hands on with both my crazies from day one. I did get a bit of helicopter mothering from my wife at the beginning, particularly with child number 1, but I fought hard for my own space and used the underlying principle in my arguments that my parenting style was not wrong, but importantly, just DIFFERENT to hers.

    I see it as crucial that children grow up knowing that there are different ways to be loved and I also think it is crucial that children grow up knowing that their fathers and mothers bring different skills and strengths to the table.

    Thankfully my wife is reasonable and listened and was able to “let go” of the pressure to be perfect and in control.

    What I think is interesting is those cases where the woman is pushing the man away (for whatever reason) and the man is, either consciously or subconsciously allowing himself to be pushed away (for whatever reason) which then leads to society labelling fathers as lazy, clueless doofuses. As you have outlined above, that actually may only be part of the truth. Well done to you for outing it. Would love to see a fuller debate around this issue

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