Why the mothers?

I was reading this thread in the Pit “Who the f**** do you think you are?” (sorry don’t know how to do a link) which inspired this question:

Why is it that when an adult does something idiotic, rude, crude, irresponsible, atrocious or stupid, their mother is blamed? Just as there are horrible mothers whose children become wonderful caring adults, there are wonderful mothers whose children grow up to become complete jerks. I know that mothers bear the responsibility (and fathers, but rarely do you see fathers singled out for blame) of raising children who are productive, responsible, socially astute members of society. When do we accept that people act of their own accord sometimes regardless of how they were raised?

I think that sometimes, especially in reference to the thread in question, it’s amazing that basic life/behavior skills are not followed. Basic life/behavior skills are taught by our parents for the most part.

I don’t point at handicapped people and laugh because my mom taught me not to.

I don’t talk with my mouth full because my mom taught me not to.

I don’t kick old women, becuase my mom taught me not to.

Certainly, people act on their own accord, and I certainly believe that when we ask “didn’t your mother teach you so and so” it’s not because we want to shift blame, but because we’re trying to find a reason.


Two interesting points in the OP:
Why do we assume a strict interpretation of behavioralistic conditionioning on the part of the mother? Why do we feel fathers don’t raise their children to share in this?

I hesistate to respond at this moment, I’d rather wait for a few more posts.

I simply don’t share your observation that mothers get all or to much of the credit/blame. When an adult is claimed to be the result of an abusive upbringing, the assumption is that it was the father doing the abusing, not the mother. When the claim is that the person is from a good family, the picture is of both mother and father contributing.

I’m not real sure what you’re getting at here. If your OP is really about accepting personal responsibility or if it’s about how insults are often based on the mother (SOB), then that’s another thread.

If the kid is bad or poorly behaved Mom is blamed.

If the kid turns out well Dad gets the credit even and especially if he had nothing to do with it.
Similarly if a kid practices football with his dad every afternoon for 20 years and becomes a football star, when he gets on TV he’ll say “Hi mom.”
It’s the natural order of things that they be this way and it is not our part to question it.

Surely you’re being facetious.


You know, I don’t think my mother ever had a word to say on kicking old women…


To address the question in the OP, I personally hold every person accountable for their own behavior from the age of about 13 on up. At this age, you’re plenty old enough to evaluate the consequences of your actions for yourself, and you’re plenty capable of choosing between a happy contributing member of society, or a boil on the ass of society.

I see the fathers singled out for blame almost every time some one claims they came from an abusive house hold. I see the father blamed frequently when people become alcoholics, or when people are caught abusing their spouses or children.

In honesty, now that I think about it, I don’t know that I’ve seen frequent cases of the mother being blamed for rude people, etc. I’ve often heard the question “What would your mother say”, implying that the mother had done the best she could, and it was the idiot in question who was failing to live up to her expectations.

I concur. Whenever I see a parent being blamed, it is the father. Conversely, whenever I see a parent being praised, it is the mother.

I think this has to do with the still-held notion that women are a civilizing force, while men aren’t.

My experiences have been different, but for the purposes of this discussion, if we agree that it is more common for fathers to be blamed for “uncivilized” conditions in the household, why are the mothers insulted when the adult children of the family behave in an uncivilized manner?

This is a much better phrasing of my original question.

My political affiliations are none of your business.

Perhaps if I were asking what your political affiliations were, the above would have been an appropriate response, Scylla.

But I wasn’t.

Perhaps you care to elaborate about this “natural order of things.”


When an adult does something wrong I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone blame the mother or even the father. Uh, excluding cases that come up in court and someone tries to excuse their crime. When a child does something wrong or something bad happens to the child the first parent to get the blame is typically the mother. At least that’s what seems to be true. I can’t really back that up.


Fathers aren’t ever singled out? How many deadbeat moms have you heard about in the past few years? How many times is it the mother who’s blamed for leaving the family with a single parent? Are there any male oriented organizations that believe a mother is not necessary to raising a child? There are a few that believe a father isn’t necessary and is about as closely related to the child as an uncle. Granted those are the more radical fringes of feminism.

It is assumed that females do most of the raising. And it may be true. In my case Dad was at work more often then Mom was. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t have an influence and helped determin how I was raised.


I was being facetious in the first post, punning badly in the second. My apologies.

And mine for being too dense to get your jokes.

And the fathers aren’t insulted? Again this just doesn’t jive with my experiences and observations.

This thread is not about a mother or father’s responsibility to their family. Or that a father is not necessary for raising children. I did not mean to imply that mothers bear the sole responsibility for raising children or that fathers don’t have any responsibility. My poorly worded statement was meant to show that I included fathers in being responsible for the upbringing.

If I may quote from the thread which inspired this train of thought:

My question is twofold:

1.Why is it acceptable to insult to a mother’s reputation/character just because her adult child was a jerk? In my experience this is a not uncommon occurrence.

2.As erislover so eloquently put it: Why do we assume a strict interpretation of behavioralistic conditionioning on the part of the mother? I know that sometimes I behave in ways totally contradictory to what my mother taught me and, using my observations of other families as information, I feel comfortable extrapolating this to mean that others have done the same.


You didn’t. And I apologize for making you think I thought that you thought what you thought I thought. Or something like that. Wow, whole lot of apologizing going on in this thread. It feels like some sort of twisted love fest.


You example didn’t sound like an insult against the mother. At least not to me. Most of the insults againts mamas I hear are in the form of “Yo mama so fat” jokes.


Because a lot of people think of their mother first when it comes to parents. When I got a boo boo as a kid I went to mommy first. That’s about the only thing I can come up with.

I’m sure we all believe a few things that are contradictory to both our parents. But dollars to doughnuts you behave in a manner that they instilled upon you while growing up.


But as I sat and thought about some popular-ish expressions (which we all know are the basis of fact so solid that even Jack Chick must acknowedge) I realized that there does seem to be a difference in what mothers are “blamed” for and what fathers are “blamed” for.

For example, common fault #1 is no blame to the parents, but mentions the mother: “You’re mother taught you better than that” or the peviously mentioned, “What would your mother say?” or erl’s favorite “You kiss your mother with that mouth?”

Common fault #2 lies with the father, but this is a fault of neglect or abuse. Can’t think of any “popular” expressions here off the top of my head, but those of us who read the pit thread about the media’s stereotypical father can see (hopefully) what I’m getting at.

Common fault #3 seems to describe a case of active ignorance on the part of the mother. That is, if the lesson isn’t learned on its own, and it isn’t learned through neglect, then the mother was an idiot and taught it to the child.

As we move boldly into the 21st century, of course, such sexist remarks will disappear in our New Enlightenment[sup]tm[/sup]. Right, everyone?


It’s really very simple - cultural stereotyping. Mama stays home and raises the kids, teaching them right from wrong, etc., while Daddy goes out to work to support the family, interacting with the children only to dispense rewards and punishment.

Even today, with both parents much more likely to work outside the house, it is still the mother who, on average, spends more time with the kids and takes off from work more often when the kids are sick, etc.

The interesting question is, when an adult child demonstrates uncivil behavior, is it a result of poor parenting by the mom, or psychological damage from a poor relationship with dad? Again, on average.


Thanks for clarifying our thoughts :slight_smile:

To anyone who needs further clarification of my thoughts, read each of erislover’s posts. (erislover, I’m glad you’ve participated in this thread. You’ve helped make my point much clearer than I could.)

It is an insult against the mother. Just because it isn’t said to her doesn’t mean it isn’t insulting to her. I understand that these types of insults are made by children/immature adults to get a rise out of someone.
(“Yo mama” type jokes generally aren’t in the same spirit. Usually they’re almost a contest to see who could come up with the funniest statment. Do a search on “playing the dozens” and you’ll see what I mean. I remember them being used this way: You’d have a person get offended by someone, get upset, say something about their mother and it would eventually evolve/devolve into a comedy fest with everyone walking away and not fighting.)

Or is it just that person being uncivil?