National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

My Mother, My Gatekeeper

Facts of Life

BY The Editors

July 6-12, 2008 Issue | Posted 7/1/08 at 3:38 PM


New research shows that mothers largely determine how big a role fathers play in the daily care of children. Scientists studied 97 couples and reported that Dad is more involved in his young ’uns’ lives when Mom mediates. “Mothers can be very encouraging to fathers and open the gate to their involvement in child care, or be very critical and close the gate,” said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Family Psychology. For attentive Catholics, the finding harks back to Pope John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity and Vocation of Women). “It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more,” he wrote. “The man — even with all his sharing in parenthood — always remains ‘outside’ the process of pregnancy and the baby’s birth; in many ways he has to learn his own fatherhood from the mother. … The child’s upbringing, taken as a whole, should include the contribution of both parents. … In any event, the mother’s contribution is decisive in laying the foundation for a new human personality.”

Illustration by Kevin Bedan