Stop The Dominoes From Falling Now

Maternal gatekeeping

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2023 | Family Law |

The term, “Maternal Gatekeeping” may, at first blush, sound like a positive term. It likely conjures up pictures of a mama bear protecting her cubs. However, in this context, it is actually negative as it has a negative impact on the child’s relationship with their father.

Maternal gatekeeping defined

Maternal gatekeeping refers to any time that the mother controls access to the child. This can be completely or at various levels, depending on the relationship and court orders, like Ann Arbor, Michigan, child custody arrangements.

Maternal gatekeeping behaviors

Maternal gatekeeping looks different in every situation, and every case is different. Some common behaviors include tailoring language about the father based on the amount of access she allows. For example, for a very restrictive mother, she may justify those actions by telling the child about all of the “bad” things the father has done, regardless of whether those things actually happened and whether the child should know about it or not.

Gatekeeping mothers also often fail to update the father about major life events or even mundane happenings in the child’s health, schooling, athletic, religious, social life, etc. These major life events are often when parents have those big life-bonding moments that help children become adults and build life-long parent-child relationships. Plus, without this knowledge, the father does not have the ability to have their input on how the child should be treated or proceed.


Every Ann Arbor, Michigan, mom has her reasons for gatekeeping. It may be something internal where she just has trouble giving up control or care responsibilities. She might need some motherly validation to let go, or she may believe the father is inept, a danger or she is trying to punish the father for some perceived wrongdoing. It could even be as simple as a function of the child’s young age, where because the child cannot verbalize yet, she believes she is the only person who can adequately determine what the child needs.

Is it harmful?

Potentially, yes. In mild cases, for the father it can be an inconvenience that is ameliorated by a heart-to-heart talk or family counseling. However, in extreme cases, it could be child abuse. If you are experiencing maternal gatekeeping, let your Ann Arbor, Michigan, attorney know because there are options.