There is a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions when it comes to the field of psychology. These issues often are compounded by misleading terminology that reflect the utter lack of self-awareness plus frankly a good deal of misogyny amongst the early psychologists.
This is especially true when psychologists refer to the psychological concepts of Mother and Father. Early feminists were correct to be suspicious if not all out hostile to the “blame the mother” brand of psychotherapy. Especially since those views were politically used to literally push women back into the domestic sphere.
But what was missing from the public discourse was the specific meanings early psychologists attached to the terms, Mother and Father. And although the early definitions were gender based, the deeper meanings were not intended to refer to one’s actual mother and father.
If we were defining these terms today, we would probably use terms like inner and outer, or domestic and cultural when referring to the differing spheres of influence.
The Mother world referred to the domestic realm, which included one’s family, along with possibly your close friends and neighbors. The Father world was the realm outside of the domestic realm, including your job if it was not a family business. Most institutions exist in the Father world, i.e. government and business. And depending on your cultural affiliations, your church, health care providers and entertainment could exist in either world. For example, if your primary form of entertainment was singing around the dinner table, it was Mother world. If you went to nightclubs, concerts and theaters, it was Father world. The doctor which cared for your entire family and made regular house calls was more Mother world. If the doctors at the local hospital knew all of your children names ... it was borderline.
Each of the worlds require a certain orientation, a way of handling oneself in relation to the requirements of each world. We learn these approaches from one’s parents or parental figures as a child. And this is where the confusion sets in. Either parent or parental figure can teach you about both worlds. But early psychologists assumed that mothers teach the Mother world portion and fathers teach the Father world portion exclusively -- and thus the problems with the nomenclature is revealed.
Mother world orientation provides lessons of intimacy, boundaries, how to care for oneself. Concrete skills include how to make your bed, brush your teeth, eat at a table, use a bathroom ... all the way up to how relate to others in ways that are loving and respectful. An astute reader will recognize the association with the lower four chakras. We can also see how and why this orientational training is so easily associated with our actual mothers. However we learn the Mother world skills from everyone involved in our upbringing which can include fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, babysitters and early teachers.
And depending on your cultural heritage, almost anyone in a parental role can be the source of Father world orientation. So what are concrete Father world skills?
Father world skills include things like how to create a budget, pay bills, dress for an interview, how to talk to potential employers, how to behave in a restaurant, knowing when you are not safe, knowing who to trust or distrust ... all the way up to how to show up to work on time and how to stand up for yourself. And here you will notice the alignment with the solar plexus up to the third eye.
I am simplifying the list of skills, but if you think about it for awhile almost anyone can come up with lists of what one should learn from each world.
I noticed that the differences between the Mother and Father worlds has been coming up in my spiritual counseling sessions a lot lately. And this is worth noting for a variety of reasons.
Most of us are acutely aware of the repercussions of a faulty Mother world orientation. We see people who cannot take care of themselves; hell many of us need remedial lessons in self care like getting adequate sleep, nutrition and playtime.
But the inadequacy of Father world orientation can come as a surprise to most of us. Almost everywhere I look, I see people who are missing key components of the Father world orientation. Culturally we can see whole portions of the national debate missing a basic understanding of simple maxims like, “give from your surplus”, “invest in your future”, “you don’t get something for nothing”, or “judge folks by their actions, not their words.”
Often Mother world maxims like “you will attract more with honey than with vinegar” are inappropriately applied to the Father world where the the maxim is closer to “treat a person with respect and you can gain a customer.” I cannot tell how many times I have walked out of a store because a salesperson refused to just listen to me, and instead put on a fake smile and tried to oversell.
Mother world orientational training is where you learn how to care for yourself and your family. Father world orientational training is where you learn how to be a responsible member of society. We have culturally been blaming women and mothers for over a century. I think it is high time we admit that the problem may actually be a neglectful and missing Father.