'Gatekeeping' mothers - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 11-04-2009, 04:22 PM
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I think the lack of societal support for dads is an interesting issue. I hadn't really thought of how it could play into "gatekeeping" by moms. DH takes DS places a lot on weekends. When DS was little he would freak out if I left him at home with DH. But if the two of them left me at home, that was fine. (Who knows why?) So they've always gone out together. DH has had multipe people assume he's divorced. And lots of people act like he's a saint or something for taking DS out without me. So weird to us.

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Old 11-04-2009, 04:29 PM
 
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I totally agree with this. Dh and I have always been equally involved with the kids.

Once when dd1 was a baby he took her out to give me a break and he got the typical weird stares and "are you babysitting". To which he replied "no, i'm parenting"

A month ago I took dd1 to the movies and he was waiting for us with dd2. He needed to change her diaper and of course there was no change table in the men's washroom. When he inquired about this issue, the staff told him there was only a change table in the women's washroom. So of course says "that's unfair well what am i supposed to do?" she responded with "where's her mother?"

dh's reply was "where's your manager".

this is common. the men's washrooms generally do not have change tables and are almost always filthy.

A lot of people we have come across in real life are completely unaccustomed to a hands on dad.

This is so true! DH and I have actually talked about this and he gets upset that there are no change tables in most men's bathrooms and thinks it is totally unfair too.

I like the family bathrooms that places have been coming up with. I think it's a good compromise.

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Old 11-04-2009, 04:32 PM
 
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I like the family bathrooms that places have been coming up with. I think it's a good compromise.
Family bathrooms rock. It's so nice to be able to pee without worrying about ds2 peeking under other stalls, or dd1 deciding she doesn't need to wait for me and heading off into the mall by herself...

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Old 11-04-2009, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know this is just the one example. I don't think it's necessarily bad that your daughter didn't get watch what she wanted to, that your dh put something else on that he preferred. In fact, I think that can be really healthy.

For you one part of being a good parent means putting children's programing on TV (you're referring to kids tv, right?). Certainly that's what I do/did. I know I was happy to do this for a long time. Besides, I was curious about the kids shows. I think we moms are happy to immerse ourselves in a baby/toddler centric world, at least more than the guys are. Well that's our choice.

It's our choice to forgo time on the net in order to focus on the kids.

I've made a lot of sacrifices in order to parent the way I thought I should, and some of them I now think weren't really necessary. It's not so bad for children to live in world that isn't focused on them.

Yes, I agree about not being centered on the child all the time. It doesn't happen that way when she's with me either. However, I do not sit her in front of the TV as a way of 'being' with her, as dh does, nor do I do it as frequently as he does. Sometimes it feels like that's the only way they can be together, not paying attention to each other at all.

I would really not mind too much anyway, if it didn't mean she gets cranky and just needs more from me when I get back. I feel like I have to pay for being away. And, yes, she is even crankier if on top of it she isn't even entertained by what she's being made to watch. (And don't get me started on the appropriateness of MTV for a preschooler).

However, I've gotten quite a bit of perspective from reading all these replies and learning how this is handled and perceived by so many different posters. I enjoy these discussions with the intelligent parents at MDC very much.
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Old 11-04-2009, 05:33 PM
 
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and sometimes I grimace at their play, which seems to be much more physical than the way I play with her...but also much more wild and imaginative....and I love that she has her own, special kind of relationship with him.....but what I love most of all, is seeing the look of pride on his face when he unviels her newest fashion look and says "DADA STYLE!" - because it means that my original plan and the numerous times I've bit my lip and repeated "stay out of it, it's none of your business" to myself have paid off. He loves her and is confidently her father, she loves him and completely trusts him, and he has foud his feet as a parent....he has found his DADA STYLE!
Daddy plays with our ds much differently then I do and ds goes crazy for it. He loves the physical rough housing that seems to come so naturally to my husband.

And last night Daddy did pj's duty and brought Jack down in a different top and bottom. I asked about the pj's not matching and Daddy said, "Oh? Is the President coming over for bedtime stories?"

I also still remember our first day as a family at home. Me and Daddy hunched over this impossibly small baby changing his diaper. Jack was peeing, I was crying, and Daddy was holding us all together. We have been a team ever since.
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Old 11-04-2009, 05:47 PM
 
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This is so true! DH and I have actually talked about this and he gets upset that there are no change tables in most men's bathrooms and thinks it is totally unfair too.

I like the family bathrooms that places have been coming up with. I think it's a good compromise.
They are a good compromise but I also think society is "off" when their is a sign on two of our local family restrooms that says "Dad's Welcomed".
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:16 PM
 
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And last night Daddy did pj's duty and brought Jack down in a different top and bottom. I asked about the pj's not matching and Daddy said, "Oh? Is the President coming over for bedtime stories?"
Bwahahaha, my DH does this ALL.THE.TIME. Drives me batty, but the kiddo is clean and ready for bed so I bite my tongue. I love your DH's response!!!
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:58 PM
 
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I read that article, and while at the same time, I noticed some of those behaviors in my self, but I don't think it's a problem.

When my DD was first born, (she was preemie after a traumatic birth experience) I literally COULD NOT care for her. We went to the NICU together, but I was SO weak, I couldn't stand there long enough to change her diaper. DH HAD to do it. He fed her, (I pumped) because she was too little to nurse (her latch was very weak and she couldn't draw the milk out) Of course, he had the nurses and staff around, but for the most part, he did it all himself.

Until we brought her home.

And then I was up with the baby for feedings, I was still pumping (I exclusively pumped til about 4 weeks when I decided I wanted to nurse, and against medical advice, I nursed my baby, but that's a whole other story and post.) And then it was all me. And he went back to work. I became in charge of everything our of neccessity...If I waited for him to get home to change the baby so he could have a "turn", she'd be in a dirty diaper for HOURS.

And then it got to a point where if he didn't put the diaper on the same as me, I felt like he did it "wrong". If he put her in a mismatched outfit (men!!) I re-did it. And finally I had to ask myself, "Is he doing something that will scar her for life? Is he hurting her?" Of course the answer is no. I just gotta unwind a little and let him do his thing.

There are still things that I do and he doesn't...Like bathing her...But that's because he's not home to do it. When he gets the opportunity, he might not wash her hair the same way I do, but she is going to be clean, happy, and safe, and he is going to marvel at her interacting with her bath toys, because the last time he saw her in a bath, she couldn't sit up yet.

So I can see, sort of, what "gatakeeping" is, but I think all moms do a degree of "gatekeeping", especially if they are the ones home with the kids all the time. It's more of a "I already tried and faild 100 times, and finally,on the 101st try, I got it, so I'm trying to save you the aggravation of trying what doesn't work."

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Old 11-05-2009, 05:28 AM
 
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I'm a recovering gatekeeper parent. I'm not recovered, mind you, but I am recovering. In an effort to figure out why I micromanaged my son's existance and parented with such "intensity", I was shocked to discover that I was a martyr. I honestly thought that my parenting was due to overwhelming love and "mama bear" instincts, but in reality, I was being a martyr. It was a shocking revelation for me.
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Old 11-05-2009, 12:58 PM
 
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Maybe what I find annoying is it insinuates that the mom is at fault for not 'allowing' the other partner to parent. Shouldn't they be just as interested in doing it?

Yes, it's tough cycle to break.
oh no, i see it here all.the.time. Dad is excited and has all kinds of ideas but he doesn't do it right enough, good enough, AP enough. Doesn't do it the moms way. doesn't like the sling and wants to put junior in a stroller and go for a walk - oh HORRORS!!! Wants to share a bite of what he is eating - BAD DAD. Has his own way to discipline - ABUSER. Every time he tries to do something his way he is corrected, criticized and given a moutain of stuff to read. So he can learn the proper way to parent. in the mean time mom takes on the martyr role and takes over. eventually he gives up.

I think we all do this to an extent but some people are just so extreme that dad gets nothing and either gives up or is not interested enough to fight for it.

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Old 11-05-2009, 02:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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oh no, i see it here all.the.time. Dad is excited and has all kinds of ideas but he doesn't do it right enough, good enough, AP enough. Doesn't do it the moms way. doesn't like the sling and wants to put junior in a stroller and go for a walk - oh HORRORS!!! Wants to share a bite of what he is eating - BAD DAD. Has his own way to discipline - ABUSER. Every time he tries to do something his way he is corrected, criticized and given a moutain of stuff to read. So he can learn the proper way to parent. in the mean time mom takes on the martyr role and takes over. eventually he gives up.

I think we all do this to an extent but some people are just so extreme that dad gets nothing and either gives up or is not interested enough to fight for it.

Hmmm... Yes, I see what you mean and I can see how someone could just give up.

However, when I think of a reversal of roles, if my dh saw me doing something for dd and said he knew a better way of doing it and gives me a bunch of thought-out reasons, I think I'd be thrilled he's so interested and I'd like to give his approach a try. But that's me. AND that would be because it's about dd. Because if, on the other hand, I got a crazy impulse to do something to, say, my car and I thought it was a helpful and cool thing to do, and dh got all bossy and said I did it wrong... Well, you know, he would take care of everything about the car from now on, I probably wouldn't EVER have the initiative to do that again.

Which gives me more to think about...
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Old 11-05-2009, 02:44 PM
 
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Hmmm... Yes, I see what you mean and I can see how someone could just give up.

However, when I think of a reversal of roles, if my dh saw me doing something for dd and said he knew a better way of doing it and gives me a bunch of thought-out reasons, I think I'd be thrilled he's so interested and I'd like to give his approach a try. But that's me. AND that would be because it's about dd. Because if, on the other hand, I got a crazy impulse to do something to, say, my car and I thought it was a helpful and cool thing to do, and dh got all bossy and said I did it wrong... Well, you know, he would take care of everything about the car from now on, I probably wouldn't EVER have the initiative to do that again.

Which gives me more to think about...
good analogy.

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Old 11-05-2009, 02:57 PM
 
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Hmmm... Yes, I see what you mean and I can see how someone could just give up.

However, when I think of a reversal of roles, if my dh saw me doing something for dd and said he knew a better way of doing it and gives me a bunch of thought-out reasons, I think I'd be thrilled he's so interested and I'd like to give his approach a try. But that's me. AND that would be because it's about dd. Because if, on the other hand, I got a crazy impulse to do something to, say, my car and I thought it was a helpful and cool thing to do, and dh got all bossy and said I did it wrong... Well, you know, he would take care of everything about the car from now on, I probably wouldn't EVER have the initiative to do that again.

Which gives me more to think about...
Well... I don't want to sound like a downer but I'm trying to think of more than a very few times that a parenting decision (other than the sort of easy baby stuff like cloth diaper, etc.) is as easy as evaluating well-thought-out reasons and implementing them.

For example: Bedtime routine. I think most parents agree that a bedtime routine is a good thing. Then, of course, it's Thursday and one parent comes home late and really wants to reconnect so they keep talking to the child for ten minutes past official bedtime start and then they find a funny puppet on the floor and start laughing and then the puppet tickles the child and before you know it they're wrestling on the bed and...

In swoops the parent most invested in routine and says AUGH WE SAID ROUTINE!!!!

But the fact is that the other parent is honouring something - spontaneous interaction, connection, whatever. It's just (in the opinion of the grumpy spouse) ill-timed or misguided. It's a conflict of two rational impulses. And yes there can be an element of who 'pays' the next day in tiredness (but conversely, who 'pays' if moments of tickle-joy are not taken over time and the relationship degrades).

I don't think the main issue in gatekeeping is lack of thoughtful discussion or even a lack of rational thought.

I think the main issue in gatekeeping is the emotional response on the part of the gatekeeper which gives off a fairly consistent signal to the other parent of: You're doing it wrong.

Not only that but if you do it wrong I will be upset and there will be payback whether that's me swooping in and taking the child away, huffing about, withholding affection, gossiping about it with our friends and family, putting you down in front of others, or whatever.

And yes, I do think that's a problem for many couples and I do think most often it's the woman who is giving off that signal (but not always). Our society supports a wife telling "funny" stories about her husband's incompetence at parenting where a husband telling the same isn't as acceptable (and the same is true in movies and ads and things). And so on and so forth.

In our house I would say my DH is the more natural AP parent; his first instinct tends to be more towards the co-sleeping, attention-giving end of things. When we went through our experience it was really not about the grand philosophical issues but about control - mine.

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Old 11-05-2009, 03:04 PM
 
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In our situation I have to be the "gatekeeper" because my DH hasn't been here. He's always at work, and when he gets home it's bedtime for DD and DH desperately needs to use the bathroom and shower after being at work for 12+ hours...

There has been no opportunity for him to learn how to care for DD from infancy! I could only dream of that kind of chance for free time on my part...

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Old 11-05-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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I would just like to add this to the mix…

I have this book about relationships (which I highly recommend!) called A Dance of Anger by Harriot Lerner. The premise being that women’s anger is a tool for her to know when her boundaries are being overstepped and how she can “change the dance” in a relationship more effectively.

With partners there should be equal responsibility and investment. In the book she points out that women are very much trained to overcompensate in our society and men to under compensate, especially emotionally. When women overcompensate emotionally (expressing feelings strongly), men respond by distancing themselves and losing interest in the subject at hand. The more distance and uninterested they appear the more we strongly express ourselves, trying to get them to care. She is basically feeling for both people. People can only truly connected with things (and other people) when they are emotionally invested to it.

To change the dance the one who is overcompensating needs to step back. Basically stop feeling for both of them, and allow the other person become invested emotionally enough to care and form opinions and join in the process. So what’s the problem? When men are free to invest they often have strong emotions to share too. Unfortunately, strong emotions in men make both men and women very uncomfortable. The author basically says keeping men from getting angry or sad is the root cause of why women feel drawn to overcompensate and control so many situations. We want to protect ourselves from their anger and protect them from their sadness. This is happening on a very unconscious level, while consciously we are usually resentful at how distanced and uncaring he is and how overworked and stressed out we are.

So in light of the above, this whole “gateway” parenting thing seems like major overcompensation.

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Old 11-05-2009, 06:01 PM
 
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Lots of interesting stuff here!

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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Old 11-05-2009, 06:16 PM
 
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I mean if my husband ever swooped in and took my kid from me and berated me in front of people for not doing something right, I'd flip out on him right then and there. I just cannot imagine putting up with that.

I wonder it's a confidence thing. Like these dads don't feel confident enough in their parenting ability to stand up to mom. Either way though, I think both parents play a role and are culpable.

Could you really ever feel confident if the woman you married and the one person who is supposed to believe in you the most feels that everything you do is "wrong" or that you are somehow incapable of doing something other men can do?

I know the feminists on this site are going to flame me, and I'm ready for it. But honestly, a man is meant to be a strong leader for his family. The protector, the big head guy If we as women don't give our men a chance, then sorry... that's on us. Not them.

My partner plays rough with our son. Inside I freak out, thinking one of these days a head is going to get hit, or a bone broken.... but you know, my son has a huge smile on his face, my fiance has a huge smile on his face, and it's not my place to interfere just because it's simply "too rough" for my liking and not the way I choose to play with our son.

When I interject to my fiance about something he does "wrong" he withdraws from me a little. Enough of that and you have a broken relationship. This doesn't mean everything he does is right, but there is definitely a way to bring these issues up in a helpful, loving, way versus "you cant do anything right" attitude.

What really gets me is that if the roles were reversed, and the man was telling the woman she didn't know anything about taking care of the children, she couldn't do it right, or whatever, it would be abuse. All though, when the roles are flipped, magically that's not the case. Go figure

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Old 11-05-2009, 07:17 PM
 
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Could you really ever feel confident if the woman you married and the one person who is supposed to believe in you the most feels that everything you do is "wrong" or that you are somehow incapable of doing something other men can do?
Actually that kind of attitude would only spur me on.

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I know the feminists on this site are going to flame me, and I'm ready for it. But honestly, a man is meant to be a strong leader for his family. The protector, the big head guy If we as women don't give our men a chance, then sorry... that's on us. Not them.
Do leader's need to be given a chance? That just sounds really wimpy to me. Personally, I think real leaders don't need to be given a chance to lead, or for others to consciously submit to them.

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What really gets me is that if the roles were reversed, and the man was telling the woman she didn't know anything about taking care of the children, she couldn't do it right, or whatever, it would be abuse. All though, when the roles are flipped, magically that's not the case. Go figure
If mom stayed on the sidelines and chose to allow it, I wouldn't feel much different. It's just like when I hear women complain that their husbands won't "let" them be involved in the finances. I say both parties are to blame often times and have reasons for acting like they do. Go figure .

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Old 11-05-2009, 07:24 PM
 
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What really gets me is that if the roles were reversed, and the man was telling the woman she didn't know anything about taking care of the children, she couldn't do it right, or whatever, it would be abuse. All though, when the roles are flipped, magically that's not the case. Go figure
The "gatekeepers" I've seen are absolutely emotionally abusive - no doubt in my mind whatsoever. Why do their husbands stay and put up with it? I'm sure the reasons are as complex as they always are when someone stays with an abusive spouse.

That said...dh is not the "leader" of our family. We don't have one.

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