Is it all in our genetic makeup?
OK so I’ve been having a debate with a friend and we got onto the topic of it being easier for guys to walk away and emotionally disconnect from things in life. Now I’m not a guy, I can’t speak on behalf of men but I do have an opinion.
So women love their kids more than men, that’s why men can walk away and women don’t, right??
Okay so I can argue both sides of this, as could many of you, there are so many examples out there of guys who have walked away from their families and seemingly not give them a second thought. But there are also many examples of guys who have fought tooth and nail to have access to their children, to be part of their lives and not be a token gesture, the part-time dad on the sideline. I have also seen mothers who have made it nigh on impossible for the father to gain access to their child(ren) and have resulted in some pretty shocking tactics to break a man down. I have witnessed emotional blackmail and manipulation, I have seen someone belittled to a point in which I could understand why they walked away. But I have also seen mothers who have refused to change their reckless ways and lose their children in the process, so yes I can argue both sides.
But my friend said that guys can easily ‘let it all go’. But is that due to their genetic make up or societal factors influencing our lives? Do guys seem less emotionally attached because that’s how they are? or how we want them to be? I agree that the psychological element can be a factor, guys do seem to be able to compartmentalise their life much more easily than women can, not saying that’s a bad thing, actually to be honest it would be quite good from time to time to detach from whatever it is that we women get ourselves emotionally involved in. But can this compartmentalising approach actually be detrimental to a relationship, a family? If a relationship breaks down and the guy doesn’t see his kids everyday is it a case of out of sight out of mind?
Then there’s tarnishing all guys (and women) with the same stereotypical brush, are we saying that all guys are detached from a deep emotional attachment – is a guy really a man if he is emotional or in tune with his feelings? This personally annoys me, I hate stereotypes, I hate that kids are still growing with the idea of what a man is and does and what a woman is and does. Just because a guy cries it doesn’t make him weak, just because a guys loves and is fully encompassed within a relationship doesn’t make him any less of a man, surely it makes him more of a man.
Where did this notion come from that men had to be all grrrrr and macho? Why can it seem more endearing to have the bad boy image when really most of us would much prefer someone who is kind, caring, considerate and loving. I find it hard when I hear stories of men walking away from their families leaving behind a path of destruction, wondering and self doubt. I for one wonder why my own father didn’t want to know me or be involved in my life. Did he ever care? Does he still care? Is he at all interested in what I am doing, who I’ve become and what I have achieved in my life? or am I part of a life that has been boxed up and the key thrown away? I can’t second guess what happened or what someone is thinking but I can only comment on how it made me feel. Knowing I have a dad out there and to be fair isn’t that far away from where I live these days but doesn’t want to know me is tough sometimes. It was hard to accept growing up, now I feel like it’s his loss. But then why did that happen in the first place? He certainly wasn’t always like that at the start, was he pushed to the point where he gave up for the want of an easier life? Or is that just the person that he is?
“One million men, 10.3% of all fathers and 5% of all men, don’t live with their children. Break-up, divorce, remarriage and re-partnering have all dramatically changed the structure of family life in the UK over the past 50 years.
Only 1% of all men in the UK live with dependent children (normally those aged under 16) but also have other dependent children living elsewhere – although past research has shown that men don’t always give accurate numbers when asked about this.”
I feel sometimes guys get a bad rep and overgeneralisation taints the male species but then some numpty comes along and proves the point by moving on from an old life leaving children behind and starts afresh with a new family in the making and disregarding the lives that were created before.
But where has this behaviour come from? Does it stem way back from a Neanderthal like era or even further back on the evoluntionary scale where males predominantly don’t hang around but actually only ‘sow their wild oats’ before moving on to the next fertile female ready to accept a mate. Darwin’s ‘Survival of the fittest’ and theory of ‘Natural Selection’ would support such a thing – for a species to continue and thrive the members of the population that can produce (fertile) offspring will ensure a greater degree of passing on ‘successful’ genes to its offspring thereby ensuring survival of the species. But aren’t we a little more emotionally advanced than that? With all that we know and being an empathetic species that has a higher level of intelligence than most other organisms surely we don’t ‘need’ to follow the urge to ensure the survival of the species but instead nuture and support the offspring we do have and ensure that they become the next great whatever they want to be that will in itself ensure the survival of our species – but it would seem maybe that isn’t quite so?
“87% of fathers who don’t live with their children say they still have contact with them although only 49% say that contact is regular (i.e. on weekends and during school holidays).”
Do you still qualify as being a dad if you only ever see your children at the weekend? – controversial I know, and I’m not out to offend as for some people that may be the only contact that they can possibly have but those who have chosen to just be weekend dad, why just then? Is it more convenient at that time? I listened to a conversation where a separated couple had an arrangement for splitting childcare, there were overnight stays in the week and alternate weekends – but here’s what made me laugh, the overnight stays in the week didn’t stretch to taking to school the next day, no the child had to be dropped off at home so the mum could take the child to school because he couldn’t make it work? Neither could the mum technically but she did it!! When trips away or football matches were booked they seemed to only ever fall on the weekends when ‘he’ was supposed to have the child, there was no negotiation around it and swapping of weekends he just missed out and was seemingly OK with it – why? Was he not bothered? Was his life so regimented within in compartments that he couldn’t deviate? – This was obviously only one side of an argument so I can’t really judge as I don’t know the full ins and outs but you get the gist
This I know could lend itself to some heated debates and I’m not out to cause upset, I guess it boils down to what do you define a parent as being – for both a mother and a father, can you satisfy that role if you are only present within a child’s life a small percentage of the time? This article says you can:
“The study from the Parenting Research Centre has found it is the quality of the relationship that matters, not the amount of time spent together.”
“Fathers can enhance child wellbeing even if the time they spend with their child is limited,”
“Not all non-resident fathers fit the stereotype of being disengaged dads.”
That I cannot dispute, its the same with most things, quality over quantity – I guess you have to ensure that the quality will be there if you want to have an impact on your child, it’s never a given that time together is quality time.
I don’t think there will ever be a one answer fits all approach to whether it’s easier for guys to walk away and emotionally detach themselves as every situation is different but there does seem to be a greater percentage of men who have walked away from families and let it all go than women – why is that so? Is it to do with how society see’s men and they are just fulfilling a perception or expectation or is it to do with their genetic makeup? Let me know.
Here’s some food for thought on an article I’ve just read