Scientists Explain What Makes Men and Women Parent Differently (And Why They’re Both Important)

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“The best kind of parent you can be is to lead by example.” – Drew Barrymore

Parenting is a difficult job, and a lot of times it’s something that you learn as you go. Ultimately, different sets of parents always have different goals for what they want their children to achieve, which leads to significant differences in parenting worldwide. And after all, every child is different also and no mold fits everyone. However, is it true that there are differences between mothers and fathers as parents, too?

Science Explains How Men and Women Parent Differently

A number of studies conducted over the years suggest that mothers and fathers approach parenthood differently. According to a 2007 article by Glenys Conrade and Robert Ho, men normally see their fathers as the authoritative parent and mothers as the more permissive parent, whereas with women it was the other way around. Other research demonstrated that, even when it comes to raising adolescents, mothers and fathers definitely have very distinct parenting styles.

Another study by the UK’s Parenting Research Center showed that dads can spend a lot less time discussing real-life issues such as relationships, growing up, and schoolwork. This can make them seem isolated and detached from their children. The study also demonstrated that fathers are less likely to be confrontational with their children.

The way a couple deals with their children can be affected by many factors. Research has shown that if a partner feels that their significant other is critical of or non-responsive to their parenting efforts, they may not perform that well as a parent. This was a common response seen in fathers in particular. Researchers adamantly conveyed that their findings show how the role of the mother is more or less still dominant in society when it comes to raising children.

The Role of A Mother and A Father in A Society

The study by the Parenting Research Center seemed to confirm this suspicion – in 84% of the cases, the household rules were set by the mother. This makes them more confident in their interactions with children, but also more likely to suffer from depression, feelings of unfulfillment, and anxiety about their family’s future.

Conditions such as postpartum depression play a significant factor in this as well. Over 70% of women will experience postpartum depression – or “baby blues” – to at least some degree after giving birth. According to the study, this can be directly linked to the fact that mothers are expected to take on the brunt of parenting immediately after the birth of the child.

Such studies do not imply that one parent is doing more work than the other, or one parent is more concerned than the other in situations of parenting. Every family operates on its own set of rules. Every couple works out between themselves just how important every duty is and separates those duties accordingly. Despite the pronounced differences in parenting styles between moms and dads, they both have something different and valuable to bring to the table of their children’s lives.

The Father

Dads, on the one hand, are the ones who are normally tasked with bringing in the family income. This task is particularly emphasized right after the child is born – as maternity leave in most cases only extends to the one parent. In a nuclear family, fathers then project an image of stability. As the child grows, it is only natural that the father would be the more lenient parent. As a result, they may not be as close to their son or daughter as the mother. This easygoing nature establishes the father not just as an authoritative, bread-winner figure, but also as a friend. Fathers should want to be a parent children can always turn to.

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The Mother

On the other hand, mothers’ authoritative style of parenting is also very important. In our modern world, women still struggle to receive equal pay and equal rights to men. For this reason, every child should be taught to respect women and treat them equally. An ingrained respect for one’s mother is a great way to ensure this. Additionally, when a mother establishes herself as the home runner and the more authoritative parent, it will teach children positive thinking as well as the discipline they need to move forward successfully in life.

Final thoughts

Young parents can often struggle with parenting, especially when it comes to their first child. If you are in that situation, stay positive! Different things work best for different families. Above all, you and your partner should act as a team in your child’s eyes. Make sure that you do not encourage splitting behavior, which can be very damaging long-term. Also, think about your personal experiences with your own parents. Are there any pages you want to take out of the book of parenting? Any mistakes you want to avoid repeating? Finally, there is no guide on how to be a good parent. The good news is that we can learn as time goes on.

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