Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Do Fathers Protect Children Better Than Mothers?

"I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection."
-- Sigmund Freud

I located this quote without an appropriate citation, but found the quote to be provocative and untrue. Was Freud a sexist? Is it fair to say that a young child feels more protected by his or her dad than mom? When we think of female animals in the wild, we conjure an image of the mother aggressively fending off prey interested in her little ones. Aren’t human mothers equally as protective?

A recent memory comes to mind in which I was driving through my neighborhood. I drove around a corner perhaps a little too quickly and saw a pregnant mother crossing the street as she pushed a stroller with a child in it. Sensing that my car posed a possible threat, she glared at me with the most intense, angry stare. I thought at the time about the protective instincts she must have as a mother, and how being pregnant must make a woman feel extra cautious and protective.

When I read the statement Freud made above, it strikes me as sexist and ignorant. Though I believe Freud brought a lot of understanding to the world of psychology and human behavior, we must remember not to idealize him. Like all of us, he had his limitations.

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