Mama & Papa Bear ‘Tug of War’: Parental Territorialism in Separation

Having a child brings out the Mama or Papa Bear in all parents. It’s not just mother’s protective instincts that become apparent as fathers fall in love with their newborn too!

Pregnancy and birth

Even throughout the pregnancy fathers are affected by their own hormonal changes as their testosterone levels drop, making them less aggressive and much more attentive to the parenting journey ahead. Whether you are the mama or the papa, you have responsibilities.

Parents are primed to become hyper-vigilant over their children and even the smallest interaction becomes deeply appreciated in creating strong attachments and children and parents alike need constant contact. Stimulated by both parents, children therefore need both.

The younger years

Sadly when parents separate, contact with both may be affected and the connection can be interrupted and Infants and toddlers are most adversely affected as the need to have safe and constant contact and attachment with both parents is crucial for babies. 

A faher can feel that his role is diminishing through divorce

Regrettably, it’s not uncommon for a parent to become a stranger to their child. A Father’s role can be greatly diminished as mother’s level of parental trust drops to a ‘suspicious’ level and contact may soon become highly stressful, discouraged or even discontinued if the other parent is viewed as ‘best avoided’. Children then become the victims of parental loss with one or both parents resenting the other to such a degree that it fogs or blinds their reasoning to what is truly needed in their interests. 

Grandparents as a childcare choice


Research on early attachment demonstrates that children do need to spend evenings and overnights with both parents. Everyday activities, such as meals, tucking into bed, bath-times, storytelling, playing and enjoying morning cuddles with each parent are fundamental to childhood development. They help build and strengthen the precious parental bonds vital for a healthy and happy child.

Mama and Papa roles

Breastfeeding can be a contentious issue between separated parents with infants and there can be a resistance for overnight or full day access. Whilst breastfeeding is one of the building blocks for attachment, it should not be used as reasoning to diminish father’s involvement and contribution.  In turn, fathers should be flexible to suit baby’s breastfeeding routines. Both parents need to appreciate their individual roles and respect that both are equally critical to their child’s welfare. 

Lack of contact with a parent in infancy can create anxiety and depression in a young child as they have no cognitive or emotional ability to process the loss of such an important caregiver”.

mama and papa bears need to coparent even after separation or divorce

The stronger and more secure the relationship with both parents, the more resilient the child because they are then able to adapt more readily to changes and transitions.  

Divorce and children

The nurturing love of a parent forms the building blocks for a healthy and happy child. Having two loving parents magnifies and strengthens the potential and possibilities for them.

Kids Come First run 1:1 workshops or separating and divorcing parents

Written by Kids Come First – The Hug Directory

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