Of course, there are many fathers out there who are raising their children alone as well. For example, my own father raised me with very little help from my mother.
However, it doesn’t seem to me to be nearly as prevalent. After some research, it turns out that my assumption was correct.
According to the United States Census Bureau, there are approximately 21.8 million children living in single parent households in the U.S. alone. An astonishing 84%of these children are being raised by their mother alone. Only 16% are raised by their fathers.
What is the reason for this? Are mothers are better at rearing children? That fathers aren’t as comfortable doing it? That courts grant mothers custody more? That fathers do not care as much?
After research, this was the conclusion attained on why mums are five times more likely to raise the children on their own than dads are.
Quick internet search
I started out with a personal theory of my own; fathers have less of a natural bond with their children. Mothers start out with this bond due to pregnancy and such. Fathers have to work at bonding with their children.
I did a simple internet search. I typed in, “Dad’s bond with children.” The first page was nothing but advice, tips, and examples on how fathers can bond with their children. I switched out the word Dad’s with the word “Mums” and got completely different results.
The page was infused with articles on the natural maternal bond. So according to my quick internet search, it would seem that fathers have to work on bonding with their children while mothers naturally do it.
An obvious conclusion to the question of why men are less bonded to their children (thus less likely to raise them alone) would be the nine month head start that mums have. During pregnancy women start sacrificing, snuggling, and bonding with their unborn.
To the father, these nine months are mostly spent focusing on the mum and noticing the changes in her. Some fathers might not even be focused on that at all. So there is a head start on the mum’s side to all this bonding business.
After all, the baby was attached to her body, how could she not bond? However, we cannot assume that pregnancy alone determine bonding as adoption has to play a role in the bonding experience somehow.
In the beginning
In the so-called “caveman” days, men were the hunters/protectors and women were the nurturers. Both played a very important but different part in family life.
While the men were in charge of providing food and protection from the wild animals and elements, women were in charge of rearing the children and giving them love and support. These two different by continued on much the same until very recently.
Things are very different today as roles have changed and necessities are a little different. Women can bring home the bacon and men can remain at home, rearing the children. Even though things have changed on the outside, it doesn’t necessary mean that things have changed on the inside yet.
Many men still have an inner instinct to provide and protect as opposed to nurturing. Likewise, women may work but still feel their inner instinct to love and nurture the children as much as possible.
Though roles have changed drastically recently, there are still the standard “norms” for many people. This is especially true in more traditional countries or groups.
Though the United States has strayed from many traditional ideas, there is still the cliché that mothers do most of the work when it comes to taking care of the babies.
Women get up at night usually, even when both work. Women change diapers. Women give baths. The list goes on. When a woman is breastfeeding, this is unavoidable without the help of a pump.
Even if the dad does not believe in the traditional roles, many mums take over and somewhat isolate the baby and themselves from the dad.
Dad is left feeling useless and may give up eventually on making any attempt at caring for the newborn. Eventually this leads to a strong maternal bond and a weak paternal one.
Of course, custodial decisions made by the courts cannot be ruled out. Assuming the mum is a relatively fit parent, the best a father can expect (generally speaking) to be granted is split custody. There is a reason many dads are called “weekend parents”.
Judges often only grant fathers weekends in the best scenario or every other weekend in most scenarios. A mother will rarely receive anything less than half the time with the kids unless something is wrong with her personally or as a parent.
Mums addicted to drugs, with mental illnesses, a pattern of violence, etc fall into the category of parents that might get less or no custodial rights with their children. Again though, this is rare.
Judges side with mums in most cases, especially a breast feeding mum as they cannot be separated from their baby for long. So, it is almost as if the judicial system even thinks that mothers are better parents….rarely equal to the mum.
So what does all of this mean? It means that though roles have changed immensely within the last few years, most people assume and expect the mother to rear the children with maybe a helping hand from dad here and there.
Many women, judges, fathers, and even society expect that the mother will be the main parent to raise the children, especially when the parents are no longer together. Fathers, deep down inside, are still the protectors and breadwinners.
When the family separates, some fathers do their best by paying child support, but the women remain the nurturers. Though we try to change these roles and might be making headway, we are still living in the caveman days when it comes to the different roles of mother and father in respect to the children.
We are all cavemen at heart in some aspects.
Related articles you may like:
Why being a single mum rocks sometimes
Parenting after a divorce
15 things a single mother should know