Mother’s Day: time for dads to step up


About 49 per cent of mothers say their husbands put “little or no effort” into Mother’s Day.

  • The Australian

“You are not my mother,” a friend’s husband has been telling her for years in response to her charges that he does nothing for her on Mother’s Day.

“But you have to honour me as your children’s mother and teach them these values,” she has implored. He’d often respond: “I took them shopping to get you what you asked for. I paid for it!”

“Yes, but it isn’t about the gift from them. I want acknowledgment from you, too. I want you to write me a card or tell me what a wonderful mother I am. 
Or make me breakfast in bed with some flowers. I want them to see you valuing me.”

And so it goes for many women all over the world. While women I know tend to put in big efforts for Father’s Day, I can’t say I’ve seen too much of it from men in return. No, I’m not man-bashing. I’ve been privy to some exquisite displays of love from husbands that have made me teary with envy. But I can honestly say that as a sex and relationships writer and radio host for many years, there’s a vast discrepancy in what women do to celebrate their men compared with what they get in return, resulting in chronic disappointment.

This year, in the lead-up to Mother’s Day tomorrow, the IGA supermarket group surveyed 1000 Australian mothers with school-aged children. The survey discovered toasters didn’t cut it, nor did lavender soap.

Most mums said what they most wanted was breakfast in bed from their husbands and kids as a form of acknowledgment. But two-thirds claimed they didn’t receive it once in the past three years. Chocolates and flowers came a close second.

The survey found that a lack of planning and effort has led to the vast majority of mums — 63 per cent — no longer looking forward to Mother’s Day.

About 49 per cent of mothers say their husbands put “little or no effort” into plans and leave it to the last minute. This statistic brings back unfond memories of trying to get into pre-booked restaurants to no avail, and trekking through the street to look for a place that wasn’t crowded out. But for many years I did get croissants and strawberries in bed, which made me feel appreciated.

Only one-third of women say most domestic chores and organising is done for them on that special day.

For me the sweetest memories of Mother’s Day will always be of what my daughter did for me each year, her little face beaming as she presented me with a stale cupcake made at school, and a huge colourful card full of hearts.

In the end there’s nothing that can take away from the sheer joy of that.


And another thing! Men are men. Women are women. We’re different. We think differently. Isn’t that a good thing? Why do men have to try to mimic the female approach to so many things nowadays? They have their own attributes. Let’s enjoy them for who they are instead of trying to change them. I will now hop down from my soapbox.

CHERYL MAY 10, 2015
For goodness sake. When will the complaining from women cease? If you’re fortunate enough to have children, EVERY day is Mothers Day. Think of the women who long for a child and who find themselves reading this sort of over the top, poor me whinging. Be thankful, give your kids a hug and realise NOTHING comes near to the privilege, yes, privilege of being a mother. I’ve been on both sides of this situation – 12 long years of longing to be a mother, followed by the reward of a beautiful son.

Our family doesn’t go in for this Mothers Day sentimentality but my now 26 year old son honours and loves me every day.

Sorry this is so long but this rubbish gets my goat every Mothers Day and it really gets my goat!
Catherine MAY 10, 2015
This has certainly achieved it’s aim of stirring up some chatter!!

I wonder how our husbands would react if women had the same retort, “you are not my father”??

It’s a kind of nauseating, childish, self absorbed, comment, aarrghhh

Actually there are two stages in life where a little acknowledgement for a mother’s commitment to her family is worthwhile, when the children are too small to do so & when the children have all left home. Despite distance there is still a sharing & caring from a mother to far flung offspring (I speak from experience).

Incidentally Mothering Sunday in March has more foundation..
Mark MAY 10, 2015
Young husbands have their own Mother and the duty attached, having his wife trying to intrude is just sick. Parental responsibility requires that if the kids are young then he needs to assist them, doing all the cooking and shopping when younger through to chivying them them along when teens.

Andrew MAY 10, 2015
One of the most touching things in my life was when my kids (5) gave me a Mother’s Day card. Things have moved on for the better since those days. At the time, and still to this day, the acknowledgment is pure gold.

Lynda MAY 9, 2015
Sometimes, especially after all the rot of the Gillard years, I am embarrassed to be a so- called ‘the- world- owes-me ‘ entitled woman. This is another of those times.

Chieu MAY 9, 2015
I used to use the same excuse but not as an excuse but just to tease her. I always end up getting her a bottle of Chanel. Amongst her female friends my wife is known as “The Chanel Collector”.

Peter MAY 9, 2015
Ruth, you’ve shamed me…I’ve always fallen back on the old…you’re not my mother excuse. I love my wife but I’m a little lazy. I realise now I need to honor the mother of my five children.

Thanks…better late than never.
Stephen MAY 9, 2015
Funny you should write this article, Ruth. For once (no exaggeration) I was well organised ahead of time, more by luck than good management, and I have spent four times as much as I normally do – which is a good thing. My daughter was amazed and questioned my spending, having seen my paltry efforts in past years.

In defence of men and their appalling lack of consideration (speaking generally of course), it has to do with not being as focused on these things as women are. Mothers Day usually sneaks up on me, despite many hints, warnings and blaring catalogue headlines. You suddenly realise, too late, that you’ve forgotten all about it and you feel terrible at the impression your wife takes away from from the day of shame.

So I’ve actually managed to get a whole lot of things for my wife this Mother’s Day, but, hang on a minute, I’ve forgotten to do anything for my own mother! The curse of the relationally inept male has struck again!
Andrew MAY 10, 2015
@Stephen Speak for yourself buddy. Don’t hide behind mere male crap!

Stephen MAY 10, 2015
@Andrew @Stephen Who said anything about mere, “buddy”? I am quite proud to be a traditional male in a society where many men are not. Anyway, doesn’t matter, my wife was on job. Both mother and mother-in-law are sorted.

Peter MAY 9, 2015
Women seem more often than men , to do things that will give them conversation

peter MAY 9, 2015
Poor didums. Men should honour their mothers, not their wives on Mother’s Day. Men should honour their wives every day, not just on a day developed by retailers to squeeze more sales out of the consciences of small children.

Matt MAY 9, 2015
Ruth, your perspective is from a writer/columnist, who really I don’t know fully your background, but from your article is written for & from your mates (inner circle). But in short you are basically being condencending towards the wider Public – in particular men. I wont say more other than this. Your wrong & a Misandrist – in a polite way of your article. You obviously are not a satisfied women & never will be. For You Ruth, Happy Mothers Day tomorrow.My wife is not into (at her request) breakfast in bed, rather a sleep in & Myself & 2 young boys will let her be. I will have flowers & a cooking utensil…….at Her request , very 2015 modern day…..

Anthony MAY 9, 2015
As a sole father of 6 girls, I get to celebrate both Mothers AND Father’s Day……..the best gift is always the love shown from my beautiful daughters, I can live witout any ‘acknowledgement’ from a partner. …….and every year ( when asked what I want ) I always tell the the same thing – a hand made card and a kiss……anything else is a bonus .

Alexis MAY 9, 2015
For most women, every day is Mothers Day. All we used to give Mum was a flower from our own garden and a huge hug and kiss and tell her how much we loved her and how lucky we were. My Mum used to say “every day is Mothers Day” and so it goes on now with my daughter and my grand daughters.

We are all increasingly over saturated with “special days” – cancer big breakfast days, mothers day, fathers day, easter, Christmas, Halloween, valentines day, Anzac day, Labor Day – and most of us are OVER IT. I am so tired of hearing the Last Post. It should never be played except when appropriate at an ACTUAL relevant event. Next it will be on muisac. It is banal and I find it disgusting because it takes away the relevance of the Last Post and makes it meaningless.

And, so with Mothers Day – another guilt trip for mothers who think they have failed somehow, and for children who cannot afford to buy something.

It is a commercial landmark. EVERY DAY IS MOTHER’S DAY. If you have a family who can make a fuss of you that is lovely, but if your life is not so “perfect” then that is ok too – just tell your Mum you love her and appreciate everything she has done since bringing you into the world.

No big deal. Every day is Mothers Day.
Brian MAY 9, 2015
@Alexis At least with Anzac day we don’t have to buy a toaster

for anyone to prove we care.
Andrew MAY 9, 2015
Too true. Here are my last minute tips for the brotherhood:

1. Do something, anything.

2. If there is still time to shop, go straight to a perfume counter.

3. If there isn’t time to shop, find $50+ and write a note saying it is for her favourite thing at the beautician/manicurist.

4. If you have come up with a gift, wrap it. AND buy ribbon and tie a bow. 30 seconds and it doubles the value.

5. If she’s not into bacon and eggs, then fly into a supermarket and get some or all of the following: fancy juice, fancy yoghurt, fancy muesli, fancy fruit, fancy jam, and croissants.

6. Florists may be running thin at this stage, but again get something, anything. If you can remember and find her favourite flower or colour, triple bonus points.

Done! You’re set for a good day!
Carden MAY 9, 2015
Once they’re old enough It’s the children’s responsibility to do the breakfast in bed or whatever if Mum and Dad or Mum and Mum or Dad and Dad are happy to celebrate these cynical marketing exercises – this spurious fluff masquerading as a newspaper column is just another misandrist diatribe, articulating the group think of a class of cosseted females who’s material needs are satisfied to a level that their own ancestors and developing and third world contemporaries can’t imagine. Yet the lucky girls of the first world are apparently incapable of feeling gratitude for their good fortune and are encouraged instead to fixate on what they don’t have, or what they think men aren’t doing for them – selfishness on steroids.

Andrew MAY 9, 2015
Wow! All that was in between the lines???

Let me check. Actually it wasn’t.

Bottom line: everyone likes to be appreciated.
CHERYL MAY 10, 2015
Totally agree.

Lisa MAY 9, 2015
The comments under this story are mean and enlightening – but it doesn’t tell women much that they don’t already know.

Fact is, deep down inside, people have grown up with women doing exhaustive domestic routines daily and so they secretly despise those same women for acting within such a limited sphere as the menial ‘help’. That includes the men and children who directly benefit from this free and never-ending ‘labour of love’.

I have seen the most decent and worthy women treated with scarcely contained derision from their husbands, and I’m sure it comes back to their secret judgement of her as the fool that ‘likes’ to do the dishes.
Alexis MAY 9, 2015
@Lisa Oh Lisa, I am sorry to hear that. My husband not too long ago asked if I found doing the housework tedious. I told him I didn’t think about it because I had been washing dishes since I was 9 years old and it was one of my jobs. Now, the thing is, a family, even a family of 2, is a team. My husband mechanically maintains our cars and our boat, he cooks beautifully sometimes, looks after the outside of the house and the bits inside I cannot reach. We share the responsibilities of our lives, financially, physically, emotionally, and that includes the yard and gardening. We divide our chores relevant to each of our individual skills and we help each other together when it is a two-man job.

Most men go to work in a very competitive environment where they have to prove themselves every day (unless you are in a union or a public servant!!) – and it is not very nice at all unless you are a natural bully or a competent strategist.

If any woman is treated with derision by their husbands and children, then in my opinion they should get some help or take the kids and get out and start again.

In Australia in 2015 there is no need for women here to put up with disrespect or ill treatment. We have a voice and we have support so all you ladies can stand up and show your power.

It is not a competition between men and women, it is supposed to be the best format a compatible enjoyable life – everyone needs to compromise and assist.
Helen MAY 10, 2015’s obviously a perfect world for you. I’m glad for you. A bit envious in fact.

Dav MAY 9, 2015
Like valentines day, mothers and fathers day are cynical attempts by marketers to encourage people to make an effort (hopefully spend an awful lot in the process) in self interested attempts to assuage their guilt in a form of penance paying. Get over it people, treat each other decently and respectfully throughout the year. Birthdays and Christmas will do me.

Richard MAY 9, 2015
Mothers Day & Fathers Day are both inventions of the greetings cards industry looking to boost sales in between one Christmas and the next. I don’t subscribe to or celebrate/commemorate either.

Michael MAY 9, 2015
@Richard Sales? How much does it cost to give a hug, make a meal, have children celebrate the mother in their lives? Nothing but the intent to make the most significant woman in our lives understand and relish that significance. Rather than look for an excuse not to celebrate be open to the idea that this provides a wonderful convenience to make the day a very special one.

Michelle MAY 9, 2015
What a load of tripe.

For me it was showing my mother that we were recognising and acknowledging her in an extra way on Mothers Day.

My husband taught our children to do the same for and to me.

I was never my husbands mother, I was his wife and I was acknowledged for being his wife.

Does poor Ruth think mothers should be beatified now too?

Ruth – the women who you describe have issues as do those who think the same, me thinks they are somehow finding themselves inadequate – that’s their problem not their husbands. Although the poor fellows must be suffering the consequences.

Happy Mothers Days to all the mums on behalf of all the children!
Peter MAY 9, 2015
@Michelle How can you possibly speak for”. . . all the children. . .”?

Troy MAY 9, 2015
So is that why overall spending on Mother’s Day is significantly HIGHER than for Father’s Day?

The National Retail Federation in the US identify the average American spending about $120 on Father’s Day, but $168 on Mother’s Day.

There are many other sources espousing similar numbers, including this handy infographic:
Andrew MAY 9, 2015
An encouraging point!

Andrew MAY 9, 2015
@Troy I just read out your comment and my husband provided the answer … guilt. Personally I think that if you’re not usually the one doing the shopping and you like to leave the gift-buying until the last minute, of course you’re going to get fleeced.

Andrew’s wife
Barry MAY 9, 2015
It looks like you’ve got the stats on your side! Maybe every day should be mother’s day. It is just over 12 months since Mum shuffled off this mortal earth and I miss her!

We argued a little too much which hopefully was mainly healthy but I can see more clearly now that even when she wasn’t quite right she had always done her best as she saw it.

So yes thanks Ruth for asking to think a little more about Mums and all that they are and hopefully always will be.
Graeme MAY 9, 2015
I treat my wife as if every day in Mothers Day.

John MAY 9, 2015
Mother’s Day. The invention of an American daughter taken up by greeting card companies to fill the void between Christmas and Thanksgiving. One they have right is that marriage and parenthood is a business relationship in which both sides have to compromise and work to gather to achieve these things they want to achieve. The rest is emotive nonsense which articles of this type seek to manipulate for their own trite purposes. This would be better placed in one of those vapid women’s magazines.

Aaron MAY 9, 2015
Don’t worry too much. Society as a whole places a greater value on women. Advertising for one thing, plus numerous campaigns for women’s cancers and health issues far dominates the reciprocal exposure for men’s issues.

John MAY 9, 2015
@Aaron I agree Aaron. A lot is said about Breast cancer but very little attention is paid to Prostate cancer, an equally high or higher killer.

Stephen MAY 9, 2015
You’re kidding, right? This article is based on the premise that Fathers’ Day is a bigger deal than Mothers’ Day, and the balance needs to be redressed. Unless I’ve been living in another country this last 40 years, that’s just plain wrong.

Peter MAY 9, 2015
@Stephen This article’s aim is to “create” some chatter

Ross MAY 9, 2015
What an asolute load of sexist rubbish

Andrew MAY 9, 2015
I have to agree on the last minute shopping, limited household chore-doing and no breakfast in bed (I hate crumbs in the sheets so that’s my own fault). I do however, get a full-on roast cooked for me Mothers’ Day (and birthday), gifts that are not appliances of any kind unless I have requested them and usually my favourite chocolate without a reminder. Just like we ignore commercialised love tokens on Valentine’s Day in favour of doing little things every day to show our love (your favourite brand of ice coffee doesn’t just appear in the fridge), Mothers and Fathers Day is more about the kids showing the love – the other parent should be sharing the load and the joy of parenthood every day. Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mums … and the dads who are in the position of having to do the job of both parents.

Andrew’s wife and the mother of his children
Antonio MAY 9, 2015
@Andrew My favourite recollection on Mother’s Day was a cooked breakfast in bed and cards made at school. Breakfast was way too much for me to eat in one sitting but I persevered not to disappoint. Our son always made sure he’d pick a posy of flowers to add that thoughtful touch to my tray.

Antonio’s Wife and the mother of his children.
Michael MAY 9, 2015
You clearly need to change the men you know in your life. My circle of friends and indeed in our own family treat our wives and the mother of our children in a very different way from those that you describe. I guess it makes a nice headline but the reality here in the suburbs is that mothers are smothered this weekend. Our “survey” is that actually breakfast in bed is not the biggest desire, the biggest desire is hugs, love, warmth …. and not to lift a finger all day unless it is holding a champagne glass! So dear lady broaden your circle, it is obviously letting you down and letting the men of the world down!

Andrew MAY 9, 2015
Poor you Ruthie…sending you a big hug. You clearly are hanging out with the wrong crowd. Mother’s Day is every day in my family!

Mark MAY 9, 2015
Huh? ..of course your man-bashing, you don’t even mention women’s effort into mothers day or men’s effort into fathers day.

They are right men have their own mothers (mostly) and that’s what mother’s day is to them not “wives day” or “female day” how selfish and “what about me” attitudinal can you get?

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