As a mother, it can be difficult to entrust someone else with the care of your child. No one else seems to understand how to do it right—not your husband, parents or nanny. As a result, you take everything on yourself. But is that truly the case? Mothers may sometimes not realize that their behavior denies their loved ones from participating in caretaking tasks, causing burnout and a strained relationship.
Maternal gatekeeping is a form of parental alienation which happens when moms block other potential caregivers from caring for their infant or toddler. It stems from the belief that the father, or other caregivers, are incapable of providing the care their child needs.
Your partner may lose confidence
Do you always correct your partner when feeding or diapering your baby? Do you criticize or laugh at your partner’s mistakes with friends and family? These could be early warning signs of maternal gatekeeping.
Relationships can fall apart because of maternal gatekeeping. Hounding or reprimanding your spouse for not doing things “correctly” may discourage them from caring for your child. The more often this happens, the less confident they may become until they eventually leave all caregiving tasks to you. As a result, you and your partner start feeling resentful toward each other.
It’s okay to ask for help
Raising a child is tough, but that’s why your spouse and family are there to support you. Recognizing gatekeeping behaviors can be a good first step to avoid maternal burnout.
You may find it easier to trust your partner by letting go of unrealistic standards and acknowledging that they may have a different parenting style compared to you. It’s also important to communicate with your spouse instead of taking your stress out on them.
Additionally, allowing others to care for your child gives you time for yourself, giving you a chance to relax and unwind.
Babies are more resilient than you think
If your spouse doesn’t hold the bottle a certain way or struggles to change your baby’s diaper, don’t worry, your child will be fine. Allowing your spouse to have these experiences and communicating your needs may encourage them to spend more time with your child.
Naturally, you only want what’s best for your child, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this. Your spouse and family share that desire too.