My relationship with my dad wasn’t ideal, but thankfully we had the opportunity to work through our issues before he passed away. As an adult who is now a single parent, I had to come to several gut-wrenching realizations, that were further solidified by the barrage of social media posts disrespecting the intention behind the celebration of Father’s Day. I’ve always had the position that children need both parents to aid in their development into well-rounded individuals, but I now have the challenge of walking the talk as a single parent who is required to have a parenting relationship with someone with whom I had an unsuccessful romantic relationship.
So what did Father’s Day 2014 teach me?
1. Some of you are carrying the burdens of your mother.
It’s taboo in our culture to even suggest that a woman isn’t a good mother and equally acceptable to almost assume a man can be a bad father. Not all relationships that didn’t work out is because of the man. It’s entirely possible that your dad wasn’t around because your mom made it almost impossible for him to have a peaceful relationship with you because she needed additional validation that he was a bad man. Had he had a great relationship with you, despite the bad relationship he had with your mother; your mother would have had proof that daddy the wasn’t a monster. Many women can’t run the risk of looking like she picked the wrong guy to inseminate her ovaries. Planned pregnancy or not, she chose your father. At one point he was suitable to lay with and give her most previous gift to in moments of intense passion. At one point he was good enough for her to imagine a life with him. At one point she was the happiest she’d ever been with him. Then the point came when the relationship became undeniably toxic and the baby or babies were already born. Suddenly he’s the most horrible person on the planet (even though she continued to have babies with him).
Not all men walk away. Some are pushed away because the woman couldn’t admit that she ignored the red flags in the beginning and needs to save face now. Your daddy didn’t suddenly start bouncing from woman to woman when your mom met him. She knew who he was, but she thought she could change him. She thought she could love him enough, cook enough, sex him enough to make him commit. When he continued to be who he’d always been, it was easier for her ego and pain for him to stay away than it was to admit that the man who cheated on her could actually be a good father.
So, she busts her ass to provide for and take care of you, and she did a damn good job. So much so that she’s convinced you that she was your mother and your father. You never even stood a chance to learn of a different kind of love. The kind only your daddy could give you and because your mom is a phenomenal mother, you subconsciously conspired with her in denying half of who you are as a person, aiding in the carrying of the load of her bad decision making and burdens.
You both need to heal this warped view of dual gender-ship that your mother is carrying. Those who are walking in truth can see from several miles away that this stance is rooted in pain. What you may not know is that your mother lied to you when she said she was your mother and your father and her mother probably lied to her.
How can you deny the importance of your father, yet grow up wanting to experience the same kind of love? You desire love and marriage, but how do you go about picking that love? Sure, some are able to acquire unconditional love and have children who receive the fatherly love they didn’t get, but that’s no substitute for the void that exists within you. Your husband is not your daddy. Your children’s father is not YOUR daddy, it’s theirs. It’s hypocritical to concurrently deny the significance of what the role (or lack there of) of your father in your life is while striving for that kind of love for your offspring. If it’s important for your children to have it, it’s important for you to have it as well, which [by your own actions] means your mom can’t fill both roles.
Healing won’t occur until the lies, distortions and blame cease to exist and personal responsibility and truth engulfs your family.
2. The general population has misinterpreted the statement “a child needs a mother and a father.”
If we’re speaking strict biology: a sperm fertilizing an egg is the only way to conceive a fetus. Science hasn’t consistently proved otherwise. Regardless of the type of relationship you are involved in, if you want to reproduce you need what the other sex has in order for that to happen.
So what makes us think that one parent can do the work of two? The countless success stories of single parents worldwide, that’s what, and I’m not going to dispute that today, however what I will do is submit to you that when it’s said both parents are needed; that statement stems from the fiber of the difference that exist between men and women. Men can’t fully figure out women and women don’t get what makes a man a man. Those who are successful in relationships have learned how to best work together and understand the vital role each play.
Rearing children is no different. Even if a mother and father completes the same activity with their child, it is received differently by that child and metaphorically communicates a varied brick in the foundation of your child’s sense of self. I’ve witnessed it with my toddler and am amazed at how her dad can do or say the same exact thing as I with a totally different response from my daughter.
A man’s presence is unlike a woman’s, therefore a single parent can absolutely rear a great child who grows up to be a successful adult, but unless that parent infuses other role models or mentors of the opposite sex into that child’s life; there will always be a void and many faulty decisions will subconsciously stem from that void. No parent truly does it alone. Teachers, guidance counselors, preachers, community leaders and mentors come in and aid in the growth and development of our children, so let’s stop blowing out of proportion the statement “it takes a mother and a father” to rear a child.
Sidebar: while surrogates who fill the gap are necessary they don’t replace biological parents, so there will always come a day of reckoning during which the custodial parent must have an honest conversation with their children about the absentee parent.
3. Men need to fight harder for their children.
So what, she’s nagging and annoying. You have every right to have a relationship with your children. As a man, you owe it to them to step up and be a force in their lives even though the relationship with their mom didn’t work out. Do what you need to do to be in your children’s lives, even if it means going to court and receiving an order for visitation.
You can’t take the easy way out and not fight (not physically) that woman to see your children. In the long term, you’ll not only become a better man for doing so, but you will instill the worth into your children they need to withstand the world’s obstacles. Stop making excuses about your child’s mother, her family or the court system. Stop letting society label you a dead beat. Prove them all wrong and stand up for your offspring.
Your children don’t deserve to question their value because you decided this wasn’t what you signed up for anyway. Get your ducks in a row and fight for your legacy. Love yourself enough to stop playing the field, planting facades and get your shit together. Your dad wasn’t there for you but you now have the opportunity to give your seeds an alternate experience so they can grow up knowing they are worthy of unconditional love, the kind you fight for.
No excuses are allowed.
My single parent experience brought to the forefront some things I needed to confront and work on so that the decisions I made for my daughter weren’t rooted in pain from the past. Whenever I put her first, independent of my subconscious thoughts and behaviors, I make the right choice for her. I constantly check myself, so that she can have the relationship with her daddy that she deserves because I know I can’t be, nor was it designed for me to be both.
I pray that you can be healed from the disappointments of your past and thrust forward in healthy relationships, first with yourself, then with your children and in relationships with other adults.
Disclaimer: this post is for those who want to be in their children’s life, but are met with roadblocks, not for those who never made the effort. Please note: just because he doesn’t do it the way you want him to doesn’t mean he isn’t trying.