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Baby Mother & Baby Father Syndrome

What is a “Baby Mother?” The definition is the mother of a child, with the implication that the Father or “Baby Father” is not involved or co-parenting the child.

In any article dealing with such a topic, in order to be straightforward, I think it’s important to state my “assumptions” outright from the beginning, so you know who you’re dealing with. I’m making the assumption, which I truly believe, that a child is better off emotionally and otherwise when two parents are “co-parenting” whether or not they are living under one roof.

Having said that, I think the underlying difficulty here is coping with old-fashion “abandonment” or its more mild mannered form “absence.” Most children with “Baby Mothers” are being raised apart from their “Baby Fathers.” The question is, with how much involvement? From what I’ve observed there are basically three levels of involvement when a “Baby Mother” designation has been given.

Level 1: Total abandonment where the “Baby Father” is not involved and provides no financial support. This of course is the most difficult form of “Baby Fathering” for a child (mother too I suspect) in that the child will have to overcome or outgrow the fact of this abandonment in order not to replicate it in some form in his or her love life when he or she becomes an adult.

Level 2: Some presence or involvement of the “Baby Father” in the child’s upbringing either in the form of reliable financial support and/or visitation and mutual activities. The problem is with inconsistency and consequent disappointment. Believe it or not, sometimes not having someone in your life is better than having an unreliable inconsistent person to always disappoint you. This was aptly described to me by one of my patients who was trying to figure out what was worse parental abandonment or neglect.

Level 3: “Baby Father” is a co-parenting figure in the upbringing of the child with all of its benefits and support intact. Obviously, the best alternative and basically looks like old-fashion divorce and co-parenting responsibility.

No article like this would be complete without a peek at the psychological and personality dynamics of Baby Mothering & Fathering. Why would a man become a “Baby Father” and why would a woman become a “Baby Mother?” Of course there is the unfortunate problem of emotional immaturity in adulthood. Our ability to have children can often surpass our ability to raise them. Add to this, the prevalent “fears of intimacy” that plague our love lives and you have men and women having children before they have been able to figure out and put to rest their fears of closeness and vulnerability.

Of course some men act like being a “Baby Father” is some kind of measure of male prowess. Oh well, I can think of many healthier ways of displaying male strength that don’t impose burdens on the next generation.

To top things off, I’ve repeatedly observed over the years that abandoning fathers tend to have been in most instances either abandoned or neglected (often by their own fathers) while growing up. On the other hand, woman who choose abandoning men tend to have had experiences with abandoning or neglectful fathers themselves or witnessed their mothers being abandoned or neglected.

Unfortunately these replicating relationship patterns are too often observed and too frequently a source of emotional suffering to be ignored.  

Comments welcome, Dr. J.

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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