Less of a house-keeper, more of a rule-breaker

Research reveals the ‘eight emotional roles’ of mothers - and why mums wish they had more time to break the rules with their kids

New research conducted by Saatchi & Saatchi for Mumsnet has revealed the ‘eight emotional roles’ played by parents - and that mothers would love to spend more time on the fun, anarchic aspects of parenting.

At the moment, dads’ biggest emotional roles are ‘rule-breaker’ (with 58% of dads saying they regularly perform this role) and ‘playmate’ (51%), while mothers spend the most time in the roles of ‘carer’ (97%), ‘safehouse’ (93%) and ‘role model’ (93%).

Mums want to do more of the fun bits with their kids, but with 58% of mums saying that they perform all eight of the emotional roles entirely on their own, they just don’t have the time.

97% of mums say they spend some of their time in a ‘carer’ role, but only 27% say that their children’s dad performs this role at all. Rule-breaker is the emotional role that mums occupy the least (65%), while it’s the one that most dads (58%) undertake; 88% of mums say they'd like to perform this role more often. And 73% of mums say they sometimes act in the role of playmate (versus 51% of dads), but 90% would like to do more of it.

The new research takes a novel approach by splitting off the functional roles which occupy so much parental time, and which are usually emphasised in marketing campaigns. The research concentrates instead on the key emotional roles of motherhood, as defined by mothers themselves: carer, safehouse, playmate, friend, role model, coach, audience, and rule-breaker.

Richard Huntington, Chief Strategy Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi London Group, said:

"Marketers and advertisers are still stuck in the rut of seeing mums in the role of cook, cleaner and nurse - while dad has fun playing outside and getting messy with his kids. While it's true that most mothers still take on more parental responsibility than their partners, there is far more to their relationship with their children than most advertising recognises. We need to focus more on the fun and silliness of motherhood, and less on the drudgery, if we are to reflect the reality of modern mothers' aspirations." 

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO said:

“Nobody becomes a mother so that she can brush up on the Highway Code or produce the ultimate tuna pasta bake. For all the hard practical work that it entails, parenthood is ultimately an emotional journey. This research provide a fascinating insight into mothers’ self-perception, and offer a whole new approach to marketing to this key group .’

Download the Research


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