Mother vs Father – Differences Explained in Detail!

family picture in backyard

Whether we like it or not, moms and dads are seen in a different light by their children. Our intentions to raise healthy, balanced kids may be the same but the roles of the mother vs father are distinctly different. And, each role is as valuable as the other when performed with love and care.

Main Differences Between a Mother and a Father

Children perceive the roles of their parents quite differently from each other. Mothers are seen as loving and nurturing parents while the father is often referred to as the authority figure. Children often find their mothers more approachable than fathers.

Definitions of Mother and Father According to Dictionaries

The definitions of mother and father from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary highlight some differences between both parents. The dictionary’s definition of a mother includes the following:

  • A female parent
  • Maternal tenderness or affection
  • Relating to or being a mother 
  • Acting as or providing parental stock – used without reference to sex
  • To give birth to
  • To care for or protect like a mother

The same dictionary uses the following definition for a father:

  • A male parent
  • A man who has begotten a child
  • One related to another in a way suggesting that of father to child
  • To accept responsibility for
  • To fix the paternity or origin of
  • To care for or look after someone as a father might

An obvious difference is gender-related with the mother being female and the father being male. The mother is also the parent responsible for giving birth to a child while the father sires children. Fortunately, nowadays, modern fathers can be the dad cutting that special umbilical cord, letting them be more involved in the birth of their child. 

Famous Mother vs Father Quotes

Getting the perspective of how other people, both famous and not so famous, view their mom and dad roles also shows whether they’re seen as being different or not. 

“My mom and dad gave their kids the greatest gift of all – the gift of unconditional love. They cared deeply about who we would be, and much less about what we would do.”

Mitt Romney (American politician and businessman)

Clearly, Mitt Romney’s parents were able to show how much they cared through unconditional love and this role was not solely designated to either mom or dad. 

“My mother protected me from the world and my father threatened me with it.”

Quentin Crisp (English writer, raconteur, and actor)

I can’t pretend to know what Quentin Crisp was intending to say here but I guess it’s safe to say his mother was playing the “typical” role of mother by nurturing and protecting him. And, his father took his responsibility seriously by ensuring his son was equipped to deal with living in the real world!

“My mom is a very warm, typical-sort of Jewish mother type. And my dad has a somewhat, um, different personality.”

Peter Orszag (CEO of Financial Advisory at Lazard Freres & Co LLC)

Once again, the mother comes through as a warm figure while Peter Orszag’s father, a professor for applied mathematics, is somewhat different. 

“All fathers are invisible in daytime; daytime is ruled by mothers and fathers come out at night. Darkness brings home fathers, with their real, unspeakable power. There is more to fathers than meets the eye.”

Margaret Atwood (Canadian writer)

I think most children will agree with Margaret Atwood when defining the different roles and characteristics of a mother and father based on their presence during day or night time. 

Debate on Mother vs Father

Go to any gathering with friends or relatives who are parents themselves and it’s inevitable someone will start a debate around the various roles of mothers and fathers. These debates often highlight how parents view their different roles as mothers or fathers. 

  • Level of contribution: The mother contributes more than the father to the family with her sacrificing more to ensure her children and husband are happy, well-fed, and keeping the house clean. 
  • Emotional support: The mother is often the one a child will turn to for emotional support. 
  • Financial security: Fathers are often seen as the main breadwinner ensuring their family is financially secure at all times. 
  • Defender and protector: The father is seen as a pillar of strength, defending and protecting his family, He’s also seen as the person whom the family can lean on when life seems challenging. 
  • Unified team: When both the mother and father work together in unity, they’re both seen as being valuable members of a unified team raising and supporting their children. 

This video which debates splitting the mother/father role 50/50, highlights how moms feel they have a list of never-ending tasks which is not often shared by fathers. But, the dads argue they play an equally vital role in raising their kids. 

It’s essential to note that each family is unique. This means the role of mother vs father differs depending on the particular circumstances facing a family. You could also talk about the debate on whether dad and mom roles are vastly different from those of the mother and father. Read my article discussing the father vs dad roles to decide for yourself.

Qualities of a Mother vs a Father


While both mothers and fathers are naturally protective towards their children, the mother tends to worry more about their kids. Mothers are overprotective while fathers will encourage their children to play more roughly or be more adventurous in the playground. Dads can be also overprotective of their daughter, as I wrote about it in a separate article.


A father is more likely to encourage their child to be more independent while a mother will want to do things for their children. Hands-on dads also teach their children to be more responsible such as by earning money through doing chores. 

Chosen Parenting Styles 

If both the mother and father agree to share the role of parenting 50/50, the tasks of raising their kids are equally shared. Parents can also choose the typical “mom at home/dad at work” parenting style and make it work by ensuring both are involved at different times. 

The stigma that stay-at-home dads might be losers often stops the father from having a fulfilling role by choosing to stay behind while the mom goes to work. But, in my own personal experience, I can vouch this parenting style works well when both parents get on board.


Dads win hands down for being the joker of the family. They’re also more inclined to get involved in playing games with the kids. The mother often feels bogged down by keeping the house in good running order which often means she can’t relax and enjoy fun time with her kids. 

Love (and showing it)

Most mothers show unconditional love towards their baby even before it’s born. The bond between the child and mom is close because she’s carried her baby for nine months in her womb. Mothers are able to express their love more openly whereas fathers may struggle in this arena. 

Who is More Important: Mother or Father?

If each parent sees they can play a vital role in bringing up their children, even if they involve different tasks, then they’re equally valuable. When both parents are engaged in the well-being of their children, they’re both vitally important. 

Researchers, through various studies, clearly state that parental involvement at home shows significant improvement in the child’s learning abilities and academic achievements at school. This is simply one example of how a unified team between moms and dads can positively impact a child’s upbringing. 

Who are Better Parents: Mothers or Fathers?

Mothers have an innate natural instinct and wisdom when it comes to offering emotional support while nurturing their children. While various qualities of a good mother make them a better parent, it shouldn’t negate the vital role of good dads.  

Some online debate forums show that 51% of the participants believe moms are the better parent. This means 49% believe fathers also make better parents. A very close tie indeed! What do you think about it? Leave a comment below!

Venn Diagram: Comparing and Contrasting Your Mother and Father

If you want to compare and contrast the qualities of your own mother and father, create your own Venn diagram. This method will clearly demonstrate the relationship of your parents’ qualities, defining which traits they share and which ones they don’t. 


In my personal opinion, when both the mother and father take responsibility for the wellbeing of their child, their roles are vitally and equally important. Mother and father roles are different but when performed responsibly with good intentions, they both contribute to raising a healthy and happy child.

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