by Chalea Marker

Did you know that the front and back wheels on a bike are different? Although they perform similar and equally important functions, the construction of each wheel makes it uniquely a front or back wheel. For one thing, the rear wheel has a slightly larger diameter than the front wheel. The way the braking system interacts with each wheel is also different. The brake pads on the front wheel are connected to handles by tubes. The brake pads on the rear wheel are attached to either the pedals or the hand levers through a small wire cable that runs the length of the bike. The two wheels are not interchangeable. In a similar way, mothers and fathers are not interchangeable. While both are responsible for the care of their children, each has a unique capacity to contribute to the well being of children. Society is ignoring the unique contributions that mothers and fathers make to a child’s life.

            International policy-makers would like to make men and women interchangeable. In a United Nations meeting in October, officials from the United Kingdom opposed using the term “pregnant women”. The officials stated that the term “pregnant people” should be used instead in order to include transgender individuals who had “given birth.”

Although all people deserve to be treated with respect, it is biologically impossible for a man to conceive and bear a child. It is also impossible for a man to take care of a child in the way a woman can. Mothers are biologically equipped to nourish their children through breastfeeding. This is something that a man cannot do, no matter how hard he tries.

Making men and women interchangeable downplays the sacrifices that a woman makes when she chooses to bear children. It also denies the gift that mothers have been biologically given to conceive, bear, and take care of a child. When society tries to replace mothers with men, we are disregarding the importance that mothers play in the lives of their children.

On the flip side, women who try to replace the role of fathers are also disregarding their important role in the family. When a woman tries to take over the role of a man in the family, she is doing both of them a disservice. She is essentially saying that man has no place in the family and that his efforts are not good enough. This is destructive to fatherhood.

Both mothers and fathers have special abilities and tendencies that are vital to the healthy growth of their children. A study done in the United Kingdom found that children who spend quality time with their fathers had better cognitive development than children who did not spend time with their fathers. Another study done by Erica Komisar found that mothers and fathers uniquely help children learn to handle their emotions. Children under the age of three have not yet developed the brain capacity to manage their own feelings, but a mother’s nurturing encourages the production of hormones in children that will help them learn to self-sooth. She found that fathers, on the other hand, help children to produce hormones that allow them to self-regulate aggression.

It is crucial for society and every individual to recognize the irreplaceable roles that both mothers and fathers play in the lives of their children. In a public hearing for the legalization of same-sex marriage, an 11-year-old girl posed a thought-provoking question: “Which parent don’t I need?” The answer is, every child needs both.

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