Love between parents and children is based on emotional involvement. Moreover, the mechanism of its occurrence in mothers and fathers is different. The mother, as a rule, begins to feel an emotional connection with the child even at the stage of pregnancy: this happens more automatically, under the influence of hormones and instincts, than consciously. As a result, in most cases, by the time the child is born, the mother already has a strong affection for him, and the most powerful hormonal explosion that occurs during and immediately after childbirth only intensifies it (of course, it also happens otherwise, but this is a topic for a separate large article) … The father, on the other hand, needs to spend time with the child in order for the natural mechanism of emotional involvement to work.
Unconditional love for offspring, as well as the desire to take care of your constant partner, is caused by oxytocin - the "hormone of long-term relationships", tenderness and affection. The mother's oxytocin level rises sharply during childbirth, and the father's oxytocin level is directly proportional to the amount of time spent with the baby. In the traditional model of parenting, a mother, who immediately after childbirth has a very high level of oxytocin, assumes all responsibilities for caring for the child, and the father, whose level of oxytocin is significantly lower, concentrates on interacting with the outside world, contacting the child, if not minimal, then definitely much less than the mother. But in order for the father to increase the level of oxytocin, and hence the strength of attachment, he needs to spend as much time as possible with the child and his mother.
In most cases, communication between working fathers and children is limited to short meetings in the morning and evening on weekdays and two days off a week - as a result, attachment grows and strengthens much more slowly than it could if the father had the opportunity to go on parental leave and take care of him from the first days of his life on an equal basis with his mother. Plus, interacting with an infant is a skill that comes with experience. The fathers involved in routine childcare easily refute the stereotype, established by the traditional model, about the inability of “real men” to tenderness, care, and sensitivity to the emotional state of the child. Not to mention, they can easily master procedures like changing diapers and bottle feeding.
In the traditional model, the division of roles between parents (the mother is “the keeper of the hearth”, is nearby, cares and supports; the father is the “breadwinner”, is far away, performs a disciplining function) generally corresponds to stereotypical ideas about gender roles and functions of men and women. In modern society, where the boundaries of gender roles are gradually blurring, a form of family in which the mother fully serves the needs of the child, and the father provides the family financially and does not participate in the daily routine of caring for the child, it ceases to be relevant. Most actively the equal distribution of responsibilities for the care and upbringing of a child is discussed and implemented in developed countries. There, fathers and mothers, in principle, have the financial opportunity to switch to a progressive model of parenting, so that both partners are equally emotionally involved and fully share responsibility for the child.
fathers as independent, rather than "complementary mother" parents, began only at the end of the XX century
The truth is, equitable parenting is truly a new form of family organization that continues to emerge right now.Even in Western countries, where the relationship between mother and child has been studied in detail, there are significantly fewer publications and studies on the relationship between children and fathers: it was only at the end of the 20th century that they began to closely consider fathers as independent rather than “complementary mother” parents. But research results indicate that the father's active involvement in caring for and raising the child has a profound effect on the development of the infant.
We are talking about fathers who take the most active part in upbringing, take care of children and communicate with them on a daily basis. As a result, their children show a higher level of cognitive development starting from the age of five months, and later on, they do better in school and find it easier to find a common language with others. If both parents are actively involved in meeting the child's needs, he develops a desire for long-term relationships with other people earlier, he learns faster to be emotionally involved in relationships and easier to master different types of communication. This significantly increases the ability to empathy - that is, in general, makes the new person more human. In addition, fathers also benefit from being maximally involved in caring for and raising a child: their ability to build horizontal connections also increases, they are better at withstanding stress, and even more successful in building a career.
The huge advantage of a situation where both parents share the responsibilities equally is that the child, instead of one main object of attachment, receives two at once. Attachment theory argues that the caring, feeling of security and emotional support that a child feels around a parent is the basis for normal development. And the adult who provides all this becomes for the child a symbol of the stability of the world around him.
Grandmothers who sit with their grandson from time to time, a babysitter are objects of attachment of the second order, the "village of attachments." Their presence is important and necessary for the child, but their significance is significantly lower than that of the main adult - the mother who regularly cares for the baby and is with him day and night. In the traditional model of parenting, the father who finds himself responsible for the child only sporadically and does not have a strong emotional connection with him, reinforced by daily interaction, also falls into the "village of attachment". In the model of equal parenting, a connection is initially established between the child and both parents who provide for his needs. This is not only about the need to be well-fed and clean - the child's vital needs include a sense of security (he achieves it primarily through physical intimacy and being "on hand"), the need for communication, in an adjusted routine of things.
Burnout is one of the biggest challenges for mothers of young children who require almost full 24/7 energy and attention. A whole bunch of reasons lead to it - from physical fatigue and exhaustion to the inability to be distracted and receive external recharge of the emotional resource, when the mother's whole life revolves exclusively around caring for the child. However, an additional burden also falls on the father: he feels that the financial well-being of the family is now closed exclusively on him, therefore, he can abruptly go to work, lose contact with the family and, as a result, lose the emotional resource that gives strength for effective work. In fact, for each parent, focusing on only one specific role increases the risk of burnout, depletion, and fiasco in that role.
If both parents share the load evenly, the risk of burnout is reduced for both. A woman who receives sufficient support from her parenting partner has a resource for self-development, for continuation of work, and for any other way of self-realization.As well as a man who understands that he is not the only breadwinner of the family, there is much more freedom in choosing career options. In addition, if a freelance situation arises with either of the two parents, the family has a "backup": when someone cannot cope with their responsibilities, be it taking care of a child or providing family income, or needs to make a short-term break, a partner comes to the rescue. Parents become as interchangeable as possible.
In a family where both parents work before pregnancy, the mother, after the birth of the child, is simply forced to go on maternity leave
One of the most serious reasons that make it difficult to equally share the burden of caring for a child from the first days of his life is the inability for both parents to simultaneously receive paid parental leave. A woman's right to such leave is most often explained by the fact that immediately after giving birth, she simply cannot physically return to work, therefore, in the future, she must take on the responsibilities of caring for the child. According to the rules of Russian labor law, any parent or close relative caring for the child (for example, a grandmother or grandfather) can take parental leave, but de facto only one person from the whole family has the right to such leave. In a family where both parents work before pregnancy, the mother, after the birth of the child, is simply forced to go on maternity leave, and the father, thus, is deprived of this opportunity.
But even in the case when the mother does not want to take parental leave or does not need it (for example, she is a freelancer working under an employment contract or a student) and the father has every right to get it, men in Russia rarely turn to employers with a similar initiative. This sad statistics is confirmed by the report of the Center for Social and Labor Rights of the Russian Federation, published last year. “The current legislation is aimed at the a priori separation of social roles based on gender: the mother should take care of the family, and the father - work,” says one of the authors of the report, Sergei Saurin. “When trying to exercise their right to raise children and the guarantees provided by labor legislation, fathers face opposition at work, and women subsequently experience difficulties in returning to the work collective, lose their qualifications, and cannot get a job.” The authors of the report promised to send it to the Moscow Department of Labor and Social Protection for consideration, but so far no new legislative initiatives have appeared to combat gender-based labor discrimination.
How roles and responsibilities are distributed among parents within the family are paradigms that we learn from childhood. But it is also a conscious choice. Equal parenting is a model that, due to social reasons, was not initially embedded in our head, but the objective possibilities for its existence in society have never been as wide as it is now. However, even today, in order to share the burden and joy of raising a child between parents as much as possible, conscious work must take place within the family, and as a result, everyone will benefit - both partners, the child, and society.
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