The exercise of paternity: repentant mothers and fathers?
Recently the testimonies of mothers and fathers have increased in frequency, who, despite loving their children above all else, today seriously question whether they would have made the same decision if they could go back in time.
What can this change of perspective be due to? What factors may be supporting such claims?
Being parents: what implications do you have today?
Paternity becomes a set of experiences and strong changes of character both on a personal (individual) and family (systemic) level that take place in a certain period of time between the moment the future arrival of the baby is known and the two subsequent years to the birth of this, approximately.
During this relatively short period, many events occur that can be a source of emotional stress for the future parent. For this reasonor talk about transition or crisis of the family cycle .
Although, in a generic way, the satisfactions that this new role entails can compensate for the balance derived from the stressors, the latter are of considerable relevance and imply adequate adaptive management that prevents the experience of the new stage as a parent. mother in a problematic way Among these factors can be differentiated: the time and effort dedicated to the care of the baby, the change in the marital relationship, the difficulty of reconciling the different roles that each individual exercises (professional and / or personal), the change of schedules and daily routines, the increase in family economic expenses or the increase in the complexity of family relationships, which go from being understood as dyadic systems (relationship between the couple) to triadic systems (father-mother-child relationship).
Transition to fatherhood or motherhood: vital changes
Between the processes of change and continuity in the transition to paternity / maternity, adaptations can be distinguished both individually and at conjugal level. Among the first, there are changes in daily habits (which refer to a restriction and alteration in sleep patterns, individual free time and interpersonal relationships, sexual habits and economic availability), the consequences on identity of the subject, his self-concept and self-esteem derived from the emergence of the new role as father and mother and the management of the adoption of gender roles that tend to be emphasized with the arrival of a child (understanding the mother as the main carer and the father as sole economic supporter).
On the other hand, there are also changes, albeit of moderate intensity, in marital relationships in terms of the establishment of new habits and shared activities (leisure and sexual relations fundamentally) tending to provide less satisfaction than previously; the organization of household tasks and the assumption of family roles (of relative impact); changes at the professional level (more pronounced for the mother than for the father) and the redistribution of the time allotted for family relationships and friendships (increase in the first and decrease in the last).
Family function: the socializing agent
In order to achieve the ultimate goal of promoting a satisfactory development of progeny, the family educational scenario is attributed the main functions of:
- Maintenance, stimulation and support among the members of the family, which focus on the promotion of physical / biological, cognitive-attentional and social-emotional capacities respectively.
- Structuring and control , which are responsible for the regulation of the three previous functions.
The latter are of relevant importance, since they affect all areas of child development; an adequate structure translated into the establishment of norms, routines and adaptive habits influences both the learning and conceptual-cognitive understanding of the world around him, as well as the ability to remain in a balanced socio-emotional state in the face of the perception of control and stability of the environment where he interacts in his day to day.
There must be, therefore, a clear consensus among the parents that allows a consistent and unitary transmission of all the mentioned aspects and that facilitates to the small one a guide of behavior and set of attitudes or values that enhance their future personal and social well-being.
Importance of the parental agreement in the transfer of values
The peculiarities of the family nucleus place it in an advantaged position as a transmitting agent of values refer to the expression and reception of affection, the volume and quality of timeshare between parents and children, the constancy of the family system and the time and the will of the members of the family system to ensure the overall development of each member.
A) Yes, values are conceptualized as the set of both cognitive and behavioral ideals to which the human being is oriented in the course of the life cycle, which have a more or less stable character and present a mainly subjective character. It could be said that this concept refers to the set of beliefs that guide the subject in the achievement of vital goals or objectives.
Types of values
Two types of fundamental values are differentiated depending on the function that is assigned to each one.
- The instrumental values they are understood as competences and serve to reach other more transcendental or deep goals (the so-called terminal values). We can speak of values of competence (such as imaginative capacity) and moral values (such as honesty).
- The seconds can be classified between Personal values (happiness) or social values (Justice).
The utility of the values transmitted by the family
The values have a motivating character that encourages the individual to enhance their self-esteem and positive self-concept and their social competence. The family, as a primary socializing agent, becomes a fundamental source for the internalization and achievement of values in the child, since it has facilitating characteristics for this process such as proximity, emotional communication and cooperation between the different members of the family nucleus.
In the learning of values should be taken into account the compatibility between themselves and, in case of conflict between some of them, should be selected that allows a greater social adjustment based on the defining beliefs of the family in question.
Other factors to consider
But it is not always the case that the values that the parents wish to transmit to their offspring end up being transmitted directly, but that multiple factors can interfere to complicate this initial will , such as the influence of intergenerational family relations (grandparents-parents-children) and interpersonal relationships in the context of peers or schoolchildren, the dynamic and changing nature of the family system based on the experiences it is assuming, the socioeconomic characteristics that presents the family nucleus or the educational style used by the parents for the children.
Thus, the originally adaptive values that parents intend to transmit are classified in those that enhance personal development (such as autonomy), interpersonal relationships (such as tolerance) and those that facilitate school or work (such as perseverance). Although all are potentially beneficial, sometimes they are not transmitted correctly by parents and this causes children to perceive them wrongly and can not be internalized.
It seems that one of the factors mentioned above, the educational style, plays a fundamental role in this aspect . Thus, parents who put into practice a democratic style are those who manage to make a transmission of values more reliable than previously expected. This educational methodology is optimal for this purpose since it encourages the interaction and participation of all family members, being more empathetic, understanding and more dialoguing than other more distant educational styles.
The effects of constant disagreement
The agreement between both parents on the mentioned points (the transmission of values and the educational guidelines applied) becomes a determining factor of the final behavior of the child. The existence of parental disagreement in these matters exacerbates the appearance of marital conflicts , which focus on disputes about what value or educational style to convey as a priority instead of orienting to teach the child a pattern of appropriate behavior. The result of this is significantly harmful for the family as a whole, since the child does not internalize how he or she should act, since the criterion is changing depending on the situation.
On the other hand, among parents a negative relationship dynamics is created based on discussion or competitiveness on the criterion that is finally applied, equally maladaptive. All this can contribute significantly to developing a feeling of dissatisfaction with the experience of paternity / maternity.
The quality of the family "educational curriculum" (what and how it is taught) is a determining factor in child development since, given its implicit and relatively unconscious or indirect nature, the set of values, norms, skills and learning are transmitted in a automatic and involuntary in most of the occasions. It is convenient, therefore, reflection on what kind of values and educational guidelines are being transmitted , assessing its adequacy from a more conscious and rational perspective.
Due to the transcendence of the role of the family in the integral development of the child, it seems essential that the parental nucleus assume the responsibility that comes with the decision of paternity / maternity.As has been proven, there are numerous changes to be experienced by future parents both personally and socially. Therefore, both the emotional stability of each spouse separately, as well as the stability of the parental nucleus in itself and the level of agreement between both parents on the educational guidelines to be transmitted are aspects to be considered in an extensive and profound way before making the determination. to embark on the exercise of paternity.
- Aguilar, M. C. (2001): Family education. Challenge or need ...? Madrid: Dykinson.
- Carrobles, J. A. and Pérez Pareja, J. (1999): School of parents. Madrid: Pyramid.
- López-Barajas, E. (ed.) (1997): The family in the third millennium. Madrid: UNED.