A Double Standard which states that mothers love their children more than their fathers do. Presumably the idea comes from the fact that since it's women who carry children, they are more "connected" to them — or perhaps because of Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe. This is especially present in works where the single mother is so much more common than single fathers, and when they "come back" (for one episode because Status Quo Is God) they're usually unloving or unreliable deadbeats.
Biologically speaking, human males like most male mammals do not have evolutionary adaptations specifically used for rearing children and according to some anthropologists, human fatherhood may have been a social construction. There is no conclusive evidence demonstrating that early human fathers participated extensively in childcare. In fact, we get more evidence that many women collaborated together in the raising of children. The 'grandmother hypothesis' is a theory that postulates that menopause evolved in human females because when they reached a certain age they would become infertile so as to focus on caring for their daughter's offspring rather than their own.
Also Truth in Television that there are more single mothers than there are single fathers in the world because of the different roles in human reproduction; a man can easily leave after sexual intercourse while a woman must deal with the pregnancy and birth. This is not to the say that a father cannot raise a child or that fathers are unimportant, but it asks whether the fatherhood role in humans is naturally occurring or if it is a cultural creation.
Compare Disappeared Dad, When You Coming Home, Dad?, Raised by Dudes, All Abusers Are Male, "Well Done, Son!" Guy, My Biological Clock Is Ticking and Not Wanting Kids Is Weird. Contrast The Patriarch, House Husband, Papa Wolf, Standard '50s Father, Maternally Challenged, My Beloved Smother and Evil Matriarch. Compare and Contrast Abusive Parents, Good Parents, Parents as People and Wicked Stepmother.
- Played straight in this ad discussing absent fathers.
- Rurouni Kenshin: In the epilogue, Kenshin and Kaoru have a child who is a boy named Kenji. A block of text clearly states "Loves his mother" complete with Kenji eager to hold onto Kaoru. Another block of text clearly states "Hates his father" complete with Kenji eager to pull Kenshin's hair when he tries to hold him. The kid is only a few years old, and it's not like the father has done him wrong or anything!
- Averted in Giant Robo. Many characters are motivated by their relationships with their fathers. The end credits dedicate the film to fathers.
- The final twist in Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror is based around the main character having her belief in this challenged. Haruka's motivation revolved around missing her dead mother and resenting her workaholic father. At the end of the movie, she witnesses memories of the past and realizes that, while her mother certainly loved her, her father was more active in giving her attention, and his current lifestyle is a direct result of his love for her. This ultimately leads to the start of their reconciliation.
- Cable: Aliya Dayspring loves her son Tyler so much that her last words to Cable are asking him to keep her safe. While Cable grieves over Tyler for some time (and holds a grudge against Wolverine for murdering him) he eventually gets over it, though he does name a stadium on Providence Island after Tyler.
- Supergirl (2005) Inverted like you wouldn't believe. Alura was cold and distant towards Kara while Zor-El was the sympathetic parent.
- In A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, the father brings a robot son home hoping to "replace" their comatose real one, mostly as a means to distract his wife from the grief. When the wife manages to bond with the son, he becomes increasingly jealous and hostile.
- The Forgotten: Julianne Moore plays a mother still grieving over the loss of her son in a plane crash some time previously and suddenly wakes up to find that no one remembers he existed, not even her own husband. She talks to the father of another child who died in the crash and he doesn't remember either and only when shown physical evidence of her does he finally remember only to be taken away by the mysterious force stalking them. At the end this is all revealed to be part of an alien experiment to test the "mother-son bond", and whether it could be destroyed. Apparently not, since despite the aliens' best efforts, her memories cannot be erased. Eventually the kids are brought back and the dads don't remember a thing.
- Meta-example for the Silent Hill movie: The reason why Harry Mason was turned into Rose for the adaptation, according to the director, is because his loving and nurturing of his daughter was determined to be 'feminine' by the director.
- In Suffragette, Maud's husband loves their son so little that he gives the child up for adoption rather than allow Maud, whose only crime was to be a suffragist, to raise him on her own, when he's decided that he doesn't want to live with Maud anymore. He justifies his behaviour by pointing out that it's completely legal.
- Thor: While Loki's adoption creates all kinds of drama, it all revolves around Odin. No one says that Loki is not Frigga's son. Even though they know better!
- Inverted in A Brother's Price, as it is men's responsibility to care for the children ... if there is a man in the family. Also, it is expected of teenage brothers to care for their baby sisters, and the failure to do so is noticed by potential wives - Balin Brindle leaves it to his frail old father to care for the babies - Summer Whistler does not approve. She understandably wants to marry a man who is good with children.
- Turns up in a lot of Jodi Picoult books. In Handle with Care: Charlotte says, "Oh, Sean...You're the best father. But you're not a mother." However, many books have the mother of the protagonist family as the one who drags them all down into hell and this belief is the cornerstone of their martyr complex.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, one of the damned souls thinks this is true. Her brother in Heaven gently informs her that her father and daughter revolted over her mourning for her dead son not because they were less loving but because she was obsessed and uncaring. At one point, one character points out to the narrator that she would gladly demand to take her son to Hell to keep possession of him.
- In Death series: Averted with Eve Dallas, because while her father Richard Troy was a child molester, her mother, who has many names, is fully revealed to be evil as well in New York To Dallas. At least her surrogate mother Dr. Mira and her surrogate father Ryan Feeney treat her much better! Initially subverted with Roarke, with Meg Roarke and Patrick Roarke being Abusive Parents, but then played straight when he finds out in Portrait In Death that his birth mother was Siobahn Brody, who loved him and didn't see what a monster Patrick Roarke was until it was too late!
- In The Red Tent, Leah and her sisters dote on Dinah. They don't pay much attention to the boys after they finish nursing, since they go off to tend the herds with their father. Except for Bilhah, who has an affair with Reuben once he grows up. Likewise, Jacob pays more attention to his sons than he does to his daughter, again on the grounds that men and women operate in different spheres of their semi-nomadic society.
- Burgess Bedtime Stories: In several stories Burgess claims that while father love is strong, it's not as strong as mother love.
- A subtle example in the Harry Potter books. Despite James and Lily sacrificing their lives to protect their son, it's Lilys love that protects Harry from Voldermort. Additionally, in a segment called The Women of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling admits that she intentionally used this trope in various ways throughout the series.
- A sort of inversion happened in an episode of Criminal Minds ("Hanley Waters"): the mother throws all the standard accusations at the father claiming that since he stopped doing things like celebrating their dead child's birthday, he didn't care about him. However, she also going on a psychotic rampage caused by her grief, while the father's subdued reaction is portrayed as more appropriate.
- Charmed has an inversion in an episode where Piper was depressed because her husband Leo (and her sisters) was better at taking care of their son Wyatt than she was.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" blatantly promotes this message, especially when the tree people reject males (even the Doctor) as their vessel because "You are weak", but accept females—Madge in particular—as "the mothership". British journalist Caitlin Moran figured that having spent the day corralling the family and making Christmas dinner for everyone, mothers would appreciate the boost "Yeah, we're the USS Enterprise".
- Played with in "Closing Time", where Craig starts the episode doubting his ability to care for his baby son Alfie while Sophie is away, but ends up overcoming the Cybermen's attempts to convert him through The Power of Love for Alfie. (According to the Doctor, who speaks Baby, Alfie also stops referring to Craig as "Not Mum" and calling him "Dad" by the end of the episode.)
- This is the subject of an argument between Tim and Jill in an episode of Home Improvement, where Jill thinks she should be the one to talk to a suddenly withdrawn and quiet Mark because of the special tie mothers have to their children. Tim thinks she's being ridiculous and insists he can handle the situation just fine. The trope is never confirmed in the end: Mark does talk to Jill about the problem (he needs glasses), but only because nobody else was at home.
- Once Upon a Time features a scene in "The Stranger" where the Blue Fairy says, "Snow White must accompany her daughter or all will be lost. She must be protectedthis is a land with no magic. She will need someone to guide her. Someone to make her believe in her destiny. Who better than her mother?" Apparently her father isn't an option.note
- Schitt's Creek: Subverted. Its Johnny Rose who seems to worry far more about the Rose children and his and Moiras failings as parents. Moira is blunt about how little she cared for taking care of her children, even though she does love them. Johnny tends to make excuses and feel guilty, and even volunteers to babysit a friends infant to prove they could have been good hands-on parents.
- Close To Home: One episode has a mother, father, and child. The child is put on a measuring device that determines if he loves his mother or his father more. The machine has its pointer on the mother's side. The mother and child are holding each other happily, while the father stands there looking unhappy.
- Pearls Before Swine: Deconstructed as a parody in one episode where Pig is talking to Goat about his neighbour. His neighbour had married this one woman, and everything was great...until the wife had two kids. Then the wife and the kids, who love each other, started treating him like a non-entity. The neighbour has come to the conclusion that she was only using him to get some kids. Goat tries to point out that there is more than one side of a story, and Pig agrees. Then the last panel shows the neighbour was right. The kids and wife are sitting on him, he gets milkshake on his head, and one of the kids says "I spilled milkshake on the couch again, Mommy." She simply says, "That's okay. I was thinking of trading this one in, anyway."
- Subverted by Final Fantasy VIII: Raine is Ellone's mother figure, but her bond with Laguna (Raine's main squeeze, basically) is much weaker. However, after she gets kidnapped by the Estharians, Laguna goes Always Save The Girl, daughter-style.
- Fire Emblem Jugdral: Gen 2 characters except Celice and Leaf are naturally bonded to their mothers, as their fathers could be anyone in Sigurd's army. While most conversations express the kids' loves and desires to find their lost mothers, they tend to avoid discussing the same about the fathers altogether, except Levin and Finn, if they are married.
- This is also largely the case in Fire Emblem Awakening, which also has children tied to the mothers (with the exception of Chrom and the Male Avatar). Fire Emblem Fates inverts this, where the children are tied to their fathers (again, with the exception of Azura and the Female Avatar). Both games do make a point of giving the children supports with the parent they aren't tied to, however. Awakening lampshades it in Laurent's first support with his father: his father asks if Laurent inherited anything from him, and after some thought, Laurent answers, "My hair color?" (As it happens, child character's hair colors are determined by who their father is.)
- This quote from anthropologist Margaret Mead: "Fathers aren't biological necessities, but social accidents."