Do Mom and Dad Still Have Differing Parental Roles?

Moms and dads used to have different parental roles. That’s changing for the better. Read this to learn about parenting roles of moms and dads.

Parental roles refer to what parents do to raise their children and meet their needs. Children grow, develop, and change as they pass through each stage. Each child in a family is unique with different personalities, temperaments, interests, and abilities. Thus, parental roles are multifaceted and complex. Further, in an ever-changing society, kids need strong parental involvement. Parenting roles in child development are crucial. This begs an important question: Do moms and dads have the same roles or do they have differing parental roles?

In the past, moms and dads had distinct roles, and they were rather rigidly segmented. Mom did this, dad did that, and there was little crossover. Traditionally, the mother was the nurturer and caretaker. She was the parent who interacted with the children. The father, in contrast, was the financial provider, disciplinarian with the ultimate authority, and decision-maker whose word went unquestioned.

Regarding parenting roles, times have changed for the better. In many households, moms and dads share the same roles; also, in society’s eyes, they have equal value. Let’s explore what specific parenting roles are, and how dads and moms fulfill those tasks.

Parental Roles for All Parents

Parents help and support their kids as they grow from newborn baby to young adult. Kids have universal needs that must be met for optimum development and success. Some parental roles in child development that must be met for good parenting, whether it’s by mom, dad, or both, include:

  • Providing shelter, food, clothing, and other basic physical needs
  • Nurturing through love, attention and dedicated time, and support in all that they do and who they are
  • Creating structure and routine that kids can trust and rely on
  • Giving guidance
  • Teaching respect, responsibility, social skills, and other life competencies
  • Ensuring medical, dental, and mental health care
  • Playing a part in their children’s learning; parental roles in education are being role models for learning, promoting a love of learning and a sense of curiosity, providing a space and time for homework, reading together, and more
  • Helping them over the bumps of life so they can move forward positively and be emotionally healthy children
  • Maintaining a healthy balance between nurturing and structure

These are a few of the roles that parents need to play. In the past, most of these duties fell to mothers. Fathers provided financially and ensured that basic needs—food, shelter, clothing, and anything else required to stay alive—were met. Mothers did everything else. Fathers were the distant parents; mothers were the hands-on parents.

Now, the line is blurred. Mothers can and do provide for the family financially. Fathers can and do play a more interactive role with their kids. In many cases, a mother’s role as nurturer hasn’t changed even for those who have jobs and careers. It’s the father’s parenting role that has changed most drastically.

Dads’ Evolving Parenting Roles

Fathers are becoming increasingly involved in child-raising. With changing social norms, men are finding that they can take on different roles in their family. Dads and moms are becoming equal partners in the lives and development of their kids.

Fathers are now able to enjoy being a:

  • Protector
  • Provider
  • Teacher
  • Listener
  • Trainer/talent developer
  • Playmate
  • Nurturer
  • Supporter
  • Skill builder
  • Role model for both sons and daughters
  • Behavior shaper
  • Self-esteem enhancer
  • Cognitive developer
  • Academic encourager
  • Behavior modifier

This is great news for kids. According to the Child & Family Research Partnership (2017), children whose fathers are involved in their lives are

  • 39% more likely to earn mostly As in school
  • 45% less likely to repeat a grade
  • 60% less likely to be suspended or expelled from school
  • 2 times as likely to go to college and find stable employment
  • 75% less likely to have a baby as a teenager (either fathering one or mothering one)
  • 80% less likely to spend time in jail

Clearly, fathers are important. Their expanded parental role is a positive influence on the family.

Moms and Dads are Equally Important

Kids need love, nurturing, structure, and simply parental involvement. Mothers and fathers have parenting roles that equally impact the healthy growth of their children.

Sometimes, moms and dads fulfill similar parenting roles differently. Kids need time to play with their parents, for example. Both moms and dads can do that, but they do it differently. That is perfectly fine. It truly doesn’t matter what interaction or parenting style parents use or how they divide their tasks. What matters most is that both moms and dads are involved with their kids.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2022, January 11). Do Mom and Dad Still Have Differing Parental Roles?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 22 from

Last Updated: January 16, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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