There are many comments made about a single mother’s dating life that often questions how or why she could enter into a relationship with a particular individual, however how often do we question how she arrived at that point? When do we question the biological fathers of these children as to what they did to ensure their child was a part of a structured family unit? Did he put forth every effort to be an active participant in his child’s life? What happened when the woman disclosed she was expecting? What plans were made to make sure that his family’s life was a priority? Or did he simply leave because a child wasn’t in his plans? Did he continue on with his life assuming his child was taken care of by his or her mother, taking for granted that the mother wouldn’t let the child go without? How often did he call to check on his child? How often did he spend quality time with his child? Skype? Facetime? Does he consistently offer financial assistance in taking care of his child? What does this father know about the day-to-day routine of his child? Or is he too busy building his career, dating, traveling, coming and going as he pleases, forgetting about all that is involved in the rearing of his seed?
How often was support offered to these mothers? Who has taken time to think about the amount of emotional strength it takes to build a career that adequately provides, create and maintain a home that is clean and safe, fight stereotypes placed on you without knowing your story, workout and maintain your physical health, while concurrently making sure the bottles are cleaned and prepped, making sure the baby is fed, clean, clothed, happy, and safe, cooking and cleaning up after each meal, reading to the child to enhance their mental and intellectual development, playing with the child to aid in the growth of their social skills and motor development, taking them on trips or for a walk in the park so they get a breath of fresh air, exposure to culture and interact with others, comforting them when they cry or nursing them after receiving a “boo boo”, only to get up tomorrow to do it all again? Have we ever taken the time to think that maybe, just maybe, that single parenthood wasn’t in the plan of these mothers and awaking each morning to find balance without losing sanity is a daily struggle-one that’s often hidden from the world? Maybe she isn’t a desperate hood rat, looking to get laid by anyone who will give her attention. Perhaps she is a college educated woman, content with who she is, was in a committed relationship and working to build a life with a person who was doing the same, only for him to suddenly flip the script when the result of the pregnancy test was revealed because having children at that time wasn’t a part of his plan. There are too many assumptions made when we hear of these horrific stories, when in reality; if you have an active sex life and don’t believe in abortion, you are one failed contraception incident away from being in the shoes of the baby mama.
Single parenthood is tremendously difficult and there are always exceptions, however despite whether or not the parents are still in a relationship; both are needed in the rearing of the child. It’s easy for the noncustodial parent to carry on with life consciously blind about the needs of his child, but to be in the shoes of a single parent means balancing your child’s needs with those of you as an adult. While it is careless for any single parent to aimlessly bring people around her child, it is equally unfair to place all blame and responsibility on that one parent, dismissing the input, or lack thereof, of the noncustodial parent.
If a man hasn’t done everything within his power to make sure his family is taken care of, then any ill that occurs to the child is equally his responsibility. Instead of reacting to devastating travesties by placing blame; why not be proactive in not taking part of the belittling and shame that’s given to these women? Why not take some time to learn her story before passing judgment? Let her know she is loved and supported, despite the change of course that has happened to her life plans. Offer to babysit to give her a break, so that she can attend to her needs. Perhaps if we remember that it really does take a village, then we can do a better job of supporting these women and children, protecting them from the dangers of the world.
***Author’s note: Inspired by the Peterson case. It is duly noted that there are single fathers who are custodial parents, and absent mothers exist, however it is also important to note that we rarely see cases where children suffer abuse at the hands of a person a custodial father is dating. This piece serves as a source of support for single mothers who don’t fit the stereotypical mold of “desperate women who allows all sorts of people around her children.”