Raising children: maternal gatekeeping: when mums don’t let dads help

by BUNTE.de Redaktion June 12, 2018 at 10:22 am

"Let me do it" – and mom will take care of the childcare again because it is supposed to be faster, better, easier. Exactly this phenomenon has now even got a name among experts: maternal gatekeeping. But what’s in it behind it? In the end, are we (oh fright!) To blame for ourselves if fathers don’t contribute much to the upbringing? And how do we let go of mothers more often?

Let’s start at the beginning: "Maternal gatekeeping" is comparable to a doorman. Whoever does everything right can enter; if you don’t fit, you have to stay outside. In everyday family life, it looks like this: A mother who claims the upbringing of children completely for herself, even though she has a helpful partner at her side, does not like the methods of the father in dealing with the offspring in the understanding of "maternal gatekeeping". The result: it takes control of child rearing.

"I’ll do it!", "Let me go!" – Sentences like this are more common. In short: It is mostly mothers who find it difficult to entrust their child to their partner. Perhaps sometimes for fear that he would not take care of the offspring as well as she did. Or he could question their established rituals, rules, principles.

Because it is also clear that mothers mostly take care of the baby alone in the first weeks and months of life, have to find their rhythm, but are then well-rehearsed and know how to interpret the signs of their child. Nevertheless, the line to become a helicopter mother is narrow. And the latter prevents exactly what we women so vehemently demand: greater involvement of the father in child rearing.

Where does maternal gatekeeping begin?

But how do you know when the ambition in compulsory education becomes compulsory? In other words: At what point can we speak of maternal gatekeeping? Here one pair Examples:

You specify exactly what clothes the child should wear.

You can’t take it when dad gives the baby the bottle – without checking the temperature again.

You think you can only wrap the baby yourself because your Partner does not do it right in your opinion.

You get nervous when dad makes the child eat something completely different than you planned.

One thing is common to all these points: in maternal gatekeeping, the mother specifies in detail how the child should be handled. And that is exactly what makes it almost impossible for fathers to get involved, even if they want exactly that. It does the opposite: the fathers withdraw and leave the field of child rearing to the mother.


But it’s not just for the mothers to let go. In return, fathers must also show sensitivity in the case of maternal gatekeeping. And the courage to take an initiative in raising children. This already applies in the puerperium phase, which can lay the foundation for the division of tasks.

Maternal gatekeeping – you can prevent it?

Tip 1: Be parents together before birth

Tip 2: Exchange concrete ideas about how to imagine the time after birth

Tip 3: Far from the birth preparation course ‘Find time for discussions

4. Tip: Take sufficient vacation on equal terms or even parental leave when the baby is there

5. Tip: As a father: Overcoming your own comfort and deliberately relieving the mother

6. Tip: As a mother: demand breaks and just let dad do it


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Christina Cherry
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