With an evolutionary perspective mothers' well-reasoned actions to avoid all forms of dangers to their children are entirely correct; a mother who let her child wander away from the fire 200,000 years ago would have her child eaten by animals.
Those genes were not passed on to future generations. Mothers who said "No, beware, dangerous" got to keep their children alive and their genes were passed on.
The man who 200,000 years ago thought, "That bear looks a bit dangerous, we're going home" did not get to feed the tribe and was unlikely to share a hut with a woman. Same result, his genes were not allowed to pass on.
Today we have no fires and no bears. Evolution is slow and humans are stuck with the same brains we had thousands of years ago. Humans have phobias of snakes, thunder, open spaces, spiders, darkness and heights. All really good things to stay away from - a few thousand years ago.
Here today is the woman who shuns most risk, and the man who must accept some risk. No gathering around the fire in the garden, no bear or snake in the living room, no darkness after sunset.
The man, the risk manager, acts as a parent with the confidence and ability to assess risk that he intuitively has. The same risk assessment he uses as a stockbroker (85% men) pilot (94.8% men) and power grid installer (99.4% men)
The woman acts as a parent with the care and caution intuitive to her. The same avoidance of risk she uses as a preschool teacher (97.5% women) in childcare (94.4% women) and as a nurse (94% women).
When these two perspectives on risk management come together to care for one or more children, frustrations surface.
No man can defend his actions all the time, how can he explain his intuitive ability to assess risk - an ability he honed throughout his upbringing through high-speed cycling, tree climbing, open water swimming, and high altitude balancing acts.
After all, a mans actions involves risk. It is intuitively assessed by the man to be virtually zero - no man takes a risk where his child could be harmed. It is perceived by the woman as a completely unnecessary risk. Better not to.
The consequence is commonly "parenthood on mothers's terms". Watch out, careful, don't go there, sit down, go here, come back. We hear all these exhortations from women with their children around town. When you listen to men with children, there's a different language.
Children models themselves on their parents. It's the most basic function of human beings. When the father behaves confidently, the child intuitively feels it and follows the father's actions. Doesn't run away, checks in, makes sure it's OK.
The mother's risk management in a society of cars, power lines, children's pools and solvents in the home risks making the child insecure - mum is scared, there is something to be scared of here. And the child models that behaviour too.
I believe this is why the father's presence is needed for his children - and he must have the mother's acceptance. He would never expose his child to serious danger. In the same way, the father must have respect for the mother's actions - she is right in her perspective, avoiding risk is sometimes better.
Parenthood is not exercised by committee but by trust.
Children hurting themselves a little bit is perfectly fine. That's how you learn risk assessment. Comfort, hugs, put on a band-aid, maybe a cast in worst case. They usually heal 100%.
I cut off my fingertip at a scout camp. Unbelievable amounts of blood but fully recovered. I'm a lot more careful with knives these days,
Omslagsfoto Scott Webb