Protecting What You Value Most
Social stigmas complicate single fatherhood
Society has created unnecessary challenges for single parents, and the expectations for mothers and fathers are not equal. This is inherently unfair since children in any single-parent household have the same needs regardless of the gender of the parent. However, people seem to think that mothers are “natural” caregivers while fathers are not.
According to Parents magazine, stereotypes such as this one have worked against single dads, but it has not stopped many from being the parent that children need.
The back-up parent
A dad who is the primary caregiver may run into trouble with those who refuse to believe he is the contact person for the child. For example, many men have found that their child’s school prefers to use the mother as the primary contact, even when the child lives with the father most of the time.
Other parents may prefer to seek out the mother when setting up playdates, activities and parties. This can cause men to feel they need to prove themselves as parents and overcome the stereotype of subordinate or back-up to the mother.
Some of the stigma may come from the misperception that dads are not as good at caregiving. The low expectations seek to let dads off the hook for parenting responsibilities and set them up for failing at nurturing their kids.
Dads are fighting back, though, by being strong, nurturing caregivers to their children and modeling good parenting behaviors. This will lead the next generation to recognize that gender is not a factor in who is “natural” at being a child’s primary caregiver.