|Q: “The profound mental toll maternal gate keeping takes on fathers especially around the holidays and how it leads to hopelessness and sometimes even a crisis of faith.”
A: In a world where the mother does seem to get more rights, it can be very lonely for dad’s during the holidays. “Maternal gatekeeping” is somewhat of a new term and it means the mom serving as the ultimate gatekeeping for anything related to your child. For example, a mother can tell the father how to put a child’s diaper on “the right way” and not support the importance of the father’s role with his children.
This can lead to hopelessness around the holidays for fathers who experience this. It’s important for dads to have a safe place to talk, process and feel their feelings around this. If these unprocessed feelings don’t have a place to come out, bitterness and resentment can build besides the loneliness. For these dad’s, find someone safe to talk to and don’t hold back. However, you also want to find someone who will give you sound wisdom and not just complain with you. There is a difference. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel and then identify clear solutions you can do.
Take time throughout the year to have one-on-one times with each of your children, so you build that connection and relationship with just them. As you spend time with your children, be mindful of just being with them. Don’t allow the “maternal gatekeeping” to stop you from being the amazing dad that you are. Know that no matter what a mother might try to keep from you, she is not the father and the father’s role is critical to a child’s development. Hold strong to key memories and times where you know your parenting was impacting your child in a positive manner. If you give the mother money for a gift and she gets the benefit of seeing the child open the gift, allow yourself to meditate on the joy of the child with the gift – do not focus on the maternal gatekeeping behavior. This may feel impossible sometimes, but if you don’t have a choice in the matter, make the choice that will benefit you and your children, not your frustration or anger. Again, you are valid in whatever you are feeling. You are stronger than you realize and more important that you are getting credit for.