Gender-neutral parenting 'doomed to fail'

Reporter: Rahni Sadler | Producer: Sandra Cleary

Sex therapist and psychologist Bettina Arndt says gender-neutral parenting is impossible and that women expect too much from husbands and fathers.

Arndt has served on a number of committees advising government policy, including the Family Law Pathways Advisory Group and the Child Support Review Reference Group and says women are taking over all the parenting, even going as far as raising them to be more like women.

"As we discovered, back in the 70s there were a lot of women who, feminists, women in the women’s movement who decided they were going to try to do that sort of thing, a lot of us have realized we are really up against it because, I think there is no question there is something biological," she said.

"I think it’s doomed to failure."

She says women need to be more realistic about what they expect from men as partners and fathers.

"I think what’s been really interesting looking back over the last 50 years is the shift away from dad’s having a real role in deciding how their boys for instance are going to be brought up."

"There was just an assumption that father’s had a voice, but I think a lot of mums are making all the decisions about how their children are raised, and I don’t know where dad’s voice has actually gone now."

The interview on Seven's Sunday Night show also features a family raising a gender-neutral child in England whose gender was actually kept a secret while he was a baby.

Mambo founder and father-of-two, Dare Jennings, is passionate about nurturing male behaviours and said the approach to parenting was making men feel apologetic for 'normal' masculinity.

"The old model where once their own father went out and worked as provided the money for the family has changed dramatically, and fair enough, but men most definitely find it a lot harder now to realize who they are and what they are within that kind of family," he said.

"We sort of tend to live in this era of needing permission or men do needing permission to do what they want to do"

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