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Equality at Home: What is Caretaker Mother Syndrome?

The caretaker syndrome (maternal gatekeeping) “The mother raises the child.” Today's mothers, who grew up in a culture, can resist letting go of their responsibilities. As a result of gender roles, this culture, which instills in us the belief that the caregiver is the mother in the family, perpetuates the unequal distribution of responsibilities.

Bekçi Anne Sendromu

The caretaker mother syndrome is used for situations that see motherhood as a duty, approach the child with an overprotective attitude, take full care of the child, and do not allow the father to take any responsibility. Let's take a look at how it turned out together:

  • Do you think that people other than you cannot take care of the child?

  • When the father takes care of the child, do you constantly give instructions for him to do things right, such as feeding, sleeping, and toilet care?

  • When you go out, can't you help thinking if the person who takes care of the child at home is with the child enough?

  • Do you feel uneasy and need to call constantly when you need to be away from your child, even for a short time?

  • Do you feel guilty about everything you do except take care of your child?

  • When your child reaches the age of separation from you (separating a bed, starting school, spending time with friends, etc.) are your feelings negative? Betrayed, anxious, alone…

As therapists warn, maternal guardianship is a vicious circle; because the more you do, the more your partner/partner will withdraw.

Puhlman and Pasley (2013) crisscrossed the three main dimensions they identified in this new model of maternal guardianship, and they defined eight maternal guardianship sub-types in two main categories and the functional areas related to these sub-types:

The first of the main categories is polarized gatekeepers, which defines mothers who clearly demonstrate a pro or unfavorable preference for paternal involvement, and whose decisions are clear in encouraging or inhibiting fathers.

Stable motherhood encompasses four subtypes of maternal guardianship: traditional boundary guarding, passive restraining guarding, facilitating guarding, and passive facilitative guarding.

Traditional gate blockers, where barriers and control are high and incentives low, create a challenging environment for fathers who want to be involved in their children's lives. Despite this, it is stated that traditional border guarding is a type that facilitates mothers to create a safe environment for their children, especially in homes where there is concern about child abuse, and includes maternal behaviors that have protective features for children who are in the absence of a father.

Mothers in the passive gate snubbers subtype with high barriers and low control and encouragement; It includes maternal behaviors that maintain a contentious relationship with the father, break up the father-child interaction 'accidentally', and redo the childcare duties that the father performs. Compared to traditional boundary guarding, mothers in this species display their behavior in more indirect ways.

It is estimated that the mother's passive inhibitory and low-control behaviors may provide a balance mechanism for her children, especially in homes where violence and conflictual relations are observed, as mothers' high disability and control may increase aggression (Puhlman & Pasley, 2013).

In facilitative gate openers with high control and encouragement, mothers have high authority over the type and amount of paternal involvement and support paternal involvement. Facilitating caretaker mothers who avoid giving negative feedback to their spouses act like experts who train fathers in housework and childcare.

Facilitating watchdogs; stressed, busy with their careers, and working long hours, is thought to provide an effective way to be involved in the lives of their children. In addition, mothers in this subtype support father-child interaction, albeit under high control, by encouraging father involvement after divorce as it supports father involvement (Trinder, 2008).

Passive gate welcomer, with high encouragement and low control, and low barriers, describes mothers who support paternal involvement but have little influence on the father's involvement in childcare. Although this type is known to increase paternal involvement in general, if the father withdraws with feelings of inadequacy, the child may lack the necessary guidance and leadership.

Markman and Coleman (2012) reported that mothers in families that can always remain friendly after divorce may use this subtype. However, it is estimated that the related type may occur in homes where there are mothers who are busy with their careers, living away from home, or where the primary caregiver is the father (Puhlman & Pasley, 2013).

In the second category, ambivalent gatekeepers, researchers (Puhlman & Pasley, 2013); described maternal behaviors whose preferences for paternal involvement were confusing, contradictory, and inconsistent.

Mothers in the ambivalent motherhood category give mixed clues about how to relate to the child and what they expect from their partner's parenting. In addition, mothers in this category may not care or be interested in the involvement of the father in the child's life (Puhlman & Pasley, 2013). Puhlman and Pasley (2013) listed the mother's career aspiration, her struggle against paternal involvement, and a deep and ingrained inner confusion about paternal involvement as possible underlying causes of this ambivalent behavior of mothers.

On the other hand, Solmeyer et al. (2011) drew attention to cultural differences by emphasizing that indecisive motherhood may occur in Mexican culture, where there is an incompatibility between parents, especially due to the marital relationship and the individual problems of the child.

In the inconsistent gate managers subtype, which defines mothers with high levels in all watchdog motherhood sub-dimensions, mothers who behave similarly to those in traditional border-setting watchdogs in terms of being the decision maker at home give demoralizing messages to fathers because they are so encouraging (Sano et al., 2008). It has been reported that these confusing messages can create a conflicted family climate for both spouses and children (Teubert & Pinquat, 2010).

In addition, it has been exemplified that the fluctuations between these encouraging and inhibiting behaviors may be caused by psychopathologies such as depression, premenstrual syndrome, and bipolar disorder experienced by mothers (Puhlman & Pasley, 2013).

In apathetic gate managers, which express high control, low incentive, and low barrier levels, mothers who take important decisions about their children alone act overly controlling and at the same time indifferent, although they do not express a negative opinion about paternal involvement. It has been reported that this type can be challenging especially for fathers who make an effort to participate (Puhlman & Pasley, 2013).

your mothers; It is estimated that fathers who work long hours travel frequently, live separately, and have many partners and children can act as insensitive watchdogs to protect their children from their absence.

It can also be seen as a strategy used by mothers who, despite their efforts, cannot increase paternal involvement. The subtype of opinionated gate watchers includes low control with high incentive and high barrier. In this type, mothers communicate avoidantly with their wives. Independent caregiver mothers with low family control have limited ability to manage paternal involvement. However, the fact that mothers keep their control behaviors at low levels is seen as a factor that softens the aggressive climate in the family.

Researchers have exemplified the conditions in which scrutiny can occur through divorced mothers with joint custody of the child (Puhlman & Pasley, 2013). In such a situation, the mother can be encouraging while taking the child to and from the father and informing the father about the child's life; In an environment where the father is not present, he may act as an inhibitor by telling the child negative things about his father.

Invisible gate ignorers, which is the last subtype in the category of unstable motherhood, refers to low levels of all maternal guardianship sub-dimensions. In this subtype of maternal guardianship, mothers accept their father's leadership and their behavior does not seem to affect their partner.

Mothers who have adopted this type may not only be away from family interactions, but also may experience problems such as depression, anxiety, and addiction problems that limit their communication with their children. Researchers have reported that the rarest type of maternal guard subspecies may be unobserved guarding (Puhlman and Pasley, 2013).

You can examine the details of the eight maternal guard subtypes that make up the two main categories in Table 1.

Bekçi Anne Sendromu Alt Türleri


Akgöz Aktaş, Güleycan & Ebeoğlu Duman, Melisa (2021). Genişletilmiş Anne Bekçiliği Kavramsal Modelinin Anneye Özgü Değişkenler Açısından Değerlendirilmesi Araştırma Makalesi,

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