As a parent, I could spout unending thoughts about the joys and tribulations of being a mother. I could cite a long wish list that my community, my support system, my government could provide to make my parenting job easier. After all, it takes a village, doesn’t it?
The business of parenting is all-encompassing and I am passionate about my role in it. But anything I say from my experience would be one-sided. It would be strictly from a mother’s point of view. In other words, I really don’t know what the job looks like from a father’s point of view.
According to this report released in 2009, there are roughly 13.7 million parents in the U.S. who are single parents responsible for raising 21.8 million children. Of the 13.7 million single parents, a whopping 84% are single mothers (27% of these mothers are raising their children in poverty). With the recent economic fluctuations, my guess is that these numbers have increased.
While I would say it’s worth every challenge it presents, parenting is not the easiest job in the world. I know single mothers who have done incredibly well raising their children to become well-adjusted, responsible adults. Sure, it can be done. But I know of no parent, mother or father, who would prefer to go solo on the job. Every parent I know prefers to have a partner; someone to share the load with and lean on at any given time. (The jackpot goes to those who have a parenting partner and built-in grandparents, aunts and uncles for their children who not only genuinely love them and adore to be around them, but also would never charge for babysitting. Yes, some people really are that lucky!)
At the risk of sounding traditional, why are fathers MIA for millions of children? Is it because they didn’t have sufficient opportunity to bond with their children in those early years? Is it because the very primal instinct of sowing their seeds alienates them from the intimacy of the gestation period in the woman’s womb? Is it because maternal instincts generally run deeper than paternal instincts? Does their decision to either become involved or stay on the sidelines hinge on their relationship with their child’s mother? The reasons present a range of complexities best left for sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists (and any other -ologists, -ists, -ers and -ians who want to take a crack at it).
My point is, if the statistics above are any indication of trends, fathers who step up to their parenting role have become less of a given than mothers who do. (If you’re familiar with the film SherryBaby starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, you’ll likely appreciate such a statement.) Having or having had a loving father or father figure is a stroke of luck. Being one is a blessing. Both are worthy of honoring and celebrating.
- If you’re a father/father figure, happy Father’s Day. How do you like being one? Do you think you could raise your child(ren) without a mother or parenting partner? What’s a good gift for a father?
- If you’re a mother, do you think you could raise your child(ren) without a father or parenting partner?
- If you’re a single parent, how do you do it?
- If you have/had a father/father figure, how would you describe your relationship with him?