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.
When I was little, Mum was always to blame. It didn’t matter what we as children did, the finger was always pointed in her direction. Yes, Mum disciplined us, but I feel all of this goes deeper.
Society stereotypes parenting roles. While it is no longer considered the accepted norm, when I was growing up, psychologically and emotionally parents were expected to fit into their gender roles, with the mum having the biggest role. Different rules applied to each parent.
The mum seemed to be the one who was penalised if she disciplined, whereas the dad was the one who participated at his own discretion, then stepped back without incurring penalties to himself. In some cases, but obviously not all, a child’s success is attributed to the mother also, as is the finger of guilt when something goes wrong.
When girls are small, they are encouraged to nurture, to care and be responsive. Boys are encouraged to be tough. But even if boys are encouraged to nurture, their instinct will always be to do the opposite. While there remains debate that behavioural instincts that are pre-programmed in male and female brains, socio-cultural factors are also accepted as important.
In some cases, yes, but this won’t be the experience for all. When men become fathers, there are fewer expectations on them around disciplining their children, which means their personalities are left intact once their children are grown and have flown the nest. Some men are not encouraged to discipline children in the same way women are, but that doesn’t mean that they cannot and shouldn’t discipline.
Men can also be responsive, attentive and supportive. A lot of it is passed through the generations. Parenting is a generation and cultural thing. It is how we’re brought up.
Some men are still happy to leave their wives to discipline. Thankfully, some are happy to share the parenting role also.