The parenting role for a mum has always differed from that of a father, but I wanted to explore why it seems to be the mum children turn to when they’re looking for someone to blame.
I know that when I was little, my mum was always the one to blame. It didn’t matter what we did, the finger was always pointed in her direction, it didn’t matter what she’d done. Yes, my mum disciplined us, but all of this goes deeper.
Society stereotypes parenting roles. Psychologically and emotionally my parents were both expected to fit into their gender roles, with my mother having the biggest role. But different rules seem to apply to each parent.
The mum seems to be the one who is penalised if she disciplines, whereas the dad is the one who participates at his own discretion, then steps back without incurring severe penalties to himself. Successes a child achieves have always been based around the mother, too, as is the finger of guilt when something goes wrong, regardless of what input the father gives.
When girls are small, they are encouraged to nurture, to care and be responsive. Boys are encouraged to be tough. But my belief is that even if boys are encouraged to nurture, their instinct will always be to do the opposite.
I also believe that when men become fathers, there are fewer expectations on them, which means their personalities are left intact once their children are grown and have flown the nest. That just because men are not encouraged to discipline children in the same way women are, doesn’t mean that they cannot and shouldn’t discipline.
I think it depends on the person, but I believe men can also be responsive, attentive and supportive. There is nowhere in the rule books that says they can’t. I believe it’s a generation and upbringing thing.
Some men are happy to leave their wives to do the disciplining. Also, thankfully, some are happy to share the parenting role.