Is it harder to be a mom or a dad?
- As of 2016, the US Census Bureau reported that there were two million single fathers in America.
- A 2013 Nature Communications study found that fathers could identify their babies' cries as accurately as mothers did.
- So-called 'mommy brain' is a real phenomenon where the gray matter in women's brains changes during pregnancy and for at least two years after giving birth. The changes better enable mothers 'to respond to their infant's needs or to detect threatening people in their environments.'
- According to a 2016 National Parent Survey, 48% of moms feel judged by 'strangers in the community,' while only 24% of fathers feel this way.
According to 63% of fathers of children under 18, being a dad today is quite hard.
One of the reasons men struggle as fathers is because they transition more slowly into parenthood than women do. Studies show women are more likely to make compromises to prioritize the needs of their children.
And possibly causing this is men’s own nature. Men are less empathetic than women, which is why they focus on preventing future distress instead of comforting children in the present. This is further confirmed as children cry to their mothers yet act strong in front of their fathers.
None of this, however, means that men are bad parents.
New fathers are also susceptible to dad guilt and can quickly develop postpartum depression due to feelings of shame and not living up to parenting responsibilities.
Cultural expectations also add more difficulty to fatherhood. Around half of Americans believe mothers do a better job than dads.
However, this ignores the struggles faced by modern fathers like those who are non-residential, divorced, gay, and stay-at-home. For instance, single fathers and at-home dads find it difficult to balance all their work and home responsibilities without a partner.
These issues, in addition to men being socially built less around parenthood, make fatherhood more difficult.
Parenthood is challenging for both moms and dads, but between the two, moms undoubtedly have the more difficult journey. The challenges often start before the child is born. According to March of Dimes, up to 8% of pregnancies are affected by preeclampsia, a blood pressure condition in pregnant women that can impact their organs. Childbirth also carries extreme risks. In fact, the CDC revealed that about 700 women die from childbirth each year.
After giving birth, up to 20% of mothers are estimated to suffer from some form of clinical postpartum depression, which encompasses postnatal disorders like Postpartum Anxiety Disorder and Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Assuming a mother sidesteps or overcomes these early challenges, she is still the parent with more responsibilities. Research shows that moms who work at least 35 hours weekly dedicate 4.9 hours to household chores compared to 3.8 hours for dads. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that women spend more than twice the time that men do helping children in the household (1.7 hours vs. 46 minutes daily).
Women take on more responsibilities outside the home, as well. A Valassis survey revealed that 52% of moms reported doing most or all of the family’s in-store grocery shopping compared to 27% of dads. Additionally, more than three-fourths of mothers reported taking on their children’s healthcare compared to one-fifth of fathers. Facing so many duties, it’s not surprising that women alter their careers more than men to accommodate their families.
These compelling statistics make it tough to argue against the challenges mothers face every day. This is not to say that dads don’t also face difficulties, but it’s quite evident that moms have it harder.