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5 Modern Parenting Tips From Freud

Dads Don't Matter Much
Freud largely disregarded dads' roles as caregivers.
Freud largely disregarded dads' roles as caregivers.
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Freud's interpretation of parent-child relationships, though groundbreaking, was firmly entrenched in the traditional gender roles of his time. Fathers were considered the authoritarian heads of household, and infant care giving existed entirely in the maternal domain. Consequently, dads don't play much of a role in child development, so said Freud, until the phallic phase from ages 3 to 6. During that window, boys especially begin to take note of their fathers, subconsciously detesting their sexual access to mothers. And with that internal conflict and the potential of a father-son Oedipal showdown, castration anxiety -- a fear of dad lopping of junior's penis to defend his patriarchal position -- supposedly arises. But until then, it's mothers that make or break psychosexual development.

Contemporary scholars have taken issue with Freud's decidedly unprogressive portrayal of domestic gender roles [source: Parke]. Even Dr. Spock updated later editions of "Baby and Child Care" to take into account the important contributions that fathers make with child care from infancy into adolescence [source: Sullivan]. Pediatric research has also come a long way since Freud's death in 1939 to establish empirically sound guideposts for raising healthy babies and children, no psychoanalysis required.

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