Children used to be considered to be the property of their fathers. This dates back to the Roman times as well as in English common law. The fathers had the rights to sell the children, had the right to enter them into enforced labor. However, he also had the legal obligation to educate, support and protect his children. Basically fathers had all the rights to the children, and the mothers had none. Thus, in divorce, the father had absolute right to custody.
However, this type of thinking began to change in the late 1800's. Our society began to change its opinion on child welfare. More fathers were leaving the home areas to seek work, and the mothers were left at home with the children as their primary caretakers. On the other hand, the fathers became the wage earners. This then changed the thinking of child custody and the way it was viewed. In addition, there was what was called the Tender Years Doctrine. This legal doctrine which has been part of the family law-common law since the late nineteenth century pertains to children age of four and younger are better off with their mothers. By the 1920's the maternal custody preference started to become more of the norm. Because mothers were considered to be better at nurturing then the fathers were. In the 1930's, Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neuropsychologist; founder of psychoanalysis developed a theory called the psychoanalytic theory that focused on the mother-child relationship and ignored the fathers role in the developmental growth of the child. This theory gave a boost to the assumption that mothers were better parents. (Joan B. Kelly, 2014)
By the 1960's and 1970's the child custody trends began to change. Fathers began to voice their concerned over sexual discrimination in custody battles. They wanted equal protection for their own rights as the child father. The custody views began to take on the outlook of what was the best interest or needs for the child or children, rather than simply base it on the gender of the parent.
In about 90 percent of the custody cases, in this day and age, mothers still seem to be the primary ones to get custody of children. However, this is based on the attitude that stems back to the Freudian thinking that mothers are better...