Criticising fathers can hamper their parenting quality

NEW YORK: If you are new to parenthood then supporting each other is the key to becoming better parents. A new study suggested that a mother’s reaction to a father’s early interactions with their baby may affect his parenting quality.

The researchers showed how “maternal gatekeeping” — the term to describe the behaviours and attitudes of mothers — may support or limit the father’s involvement in child rearing.

If fathers feel their partner was critical of their parenting skills, they are less likely to perform their duties toward the baby.

“The behaviours of mothers can shape how fathers interact with their children. Mothers may not even be aware of how their criticisms of the father may end up negatively influencing how they parent,” said lead author Lauren Altenburger from The Ohio State University in the US.

“If fathers feel their partners don’t have confidence in their parenting, they may withdraw and become less positive and sensitive with their child.”

The study, published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, included data from 182 couples. The participants were assessed twice, when their child was 3 months old and 9 months old.

The more the fathers faced criticism like irritated looks about parenting at 3 months age of their child, the worse was their parenting quality at 9 months.

“Many fathers may be more vulnerable to criticism than mothers are because there is still less support in our society for fathers as active, involved parents,” said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, Professor at the varsity.

Altenburger said: “It is about giving fathers the space to parent, too. Both parents need to keep communication open and not be so quick to criticise.”