Do Mothers or Fathers Have Stronger Bonds With Their Children?

The answer might not be as clear-cut as you think.




Mums are often perceived as having a 'special bond' with their children; after all, they carried them around inside them for nine months.

As a result, there is often the expectation that it will be mothers, with their strong maternal instinct, who take a lead when it comes to childcare and take the majority of parental leave from work.

However, there is increasing evidence that the father-child relationship is just as strong as the mother-child bond, as long as there is enough interaction between dads and their kids from an early age.

One study found that dads release as much oxytocin when playing with their babies just as mums do, while another showed that a father's hormone levels seem to be affected by hearing infant cries.

Research has also shown that the father-baby bond is stronger if the father spends more time caring for the baby, again suggesting that longer paternity leave could be a positive thing.

On the downside, scientists say fathers failing to bond with their sons in the first three months of their lives could cause lifelong behavioural problems, while loving contact between babies and their dads in these early months can produce calmer, happier children by the age of one.


Obviously, family circumstances don't always allow for this close bond to form between dads and their children – sometimes the dads aren't around – but what is becoming clear is that, where possible, plenty of interaction between kids and their dads is to be encouraged, and may even rival the celebrated mother-child bond.