Being A Single Parent Has Made Me A Better (Future) Husband

man with daughter

For one, nearly all of the things that would count against a single mother almost have no bearing in my life. The double standard is insane. A woman with children is often avoided by most men—unless he has kids of his own—whereas having even a young child (my daughter is two) hasn't been a detriment at all when it comes to meeting women. Doing the right thing and being a responsible and active father is not only applauded, it wins me points. It's attractive to women that I not only want to be but am so actively involved in my daughter's life. For single mothers, it's just an expectation.

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I've been out with my daughter at the park and women have come up to me and said that my daughter is gorgeous and that they'd like one too. Women seem to look at my daughter as if she's my resume: here is what Panama Jackson brings to the gene pool; here's an actual physical manifestation of possible offspring with him. Oh, and my daughter is adorable, believe that. And that's not just the flesh-n-blood talking. I can't imagine that any man would even half-heartedly look at a woman with a child and think, you know, I need to have one with her because my child would be great looking.

I always assumed that women would be turned off by my having a child but to date, only one woman polled told me that she wouldn't date me because of my daughter, and that was specifically because she was intimidated by the fact that I have more child-rearing knowledge than she did. I don't have to get with that, but I do respect it.

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Now you might think that with these newfound advantages, I'd be inclined to run amuck with women everywhere, but the truth is, having a daughter has also changed my perspective on some things. While I tend to write from the same G's up, hoes down perspective as I always have, in the real world I look at my daughter as a woman in training and thus I can't be simultaneously out here making it rain and teaching her to respect her body so that a man will. Granted, she's two, but two-year-olds become 22-year-olds awfully fast. You have no idea how much it would blow to have my daughter turn to me one day and say, "You know, daddy, I see these guys out there treating women badly and I saw you do that, too." That would kill me dead.

What does it all mean? It means that I've started to actively think about how I treat women. What it doesn't mean is that I've changed who I am altogether. I'm still growing and will continue to make mistakes, but my ability to acknowledge the long-term ramifications of them has become a damn sight clearer. All because of a little girl who puts crowns on my head and calls me a Princess. Yes, my daughter thinks I'm a princess who likes tea. Real talk, I don't mind wearing the crown (and it's a crown, not a tiara) but being called a Princess is going to take some undoing. But how do you look into the eyes of your child who's so happy and say, "No, that's just wrong." Naw, I just ask for more tea and intend to work on gender roles around the bend. Yes, my daughter has removed all of my gangsta and I'm not even remotely upset about it.

Being a single father isn't all chicken and watermelon though. Especially for a former baller turned excited pappy like me. My daughter being such an intense part of my life means that her mother and I still interact on a daily basis and work through as much stuff together as possible regarding our descendant. We make decisions jointly and spend time with her together so that she sees that adults can do so. And let me be clear, I think my kid has a great mother and I think it's great that despite our own failings in a relationship, we're able to put my daughter first and be grownups—pretty much what SHOULD happen. I can, however, see how that could be extremely frustrating for any woman in my life.

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It's a crip waltz*. Yes, you read that right. While those same women love that I'm such a great father, they wish I could do it without dealing with the mother so much. Or they think that I'm too accommodating or spend too much time tending to the needs of not just my daughter but of her mother. I actually had one woman tell me that she felt it unreasonable and unnecessary for me to ever have a sit-down meal with my child's mother. Color Me Badd and all, but that type of thinking and logic is so ridiculous that it's pretty evident we weren't meant to last.

Another famous issue is the "when can I meet her?" discussion. Now, I'm a little bit different than most. I have somewhat of a higher profile than the average Joe so I don't even have pictures of my daughter up on my Facebook page. I don't want random people figuring out my government name, going to Facebook and searching through pictures and seeing something so personal. I feel like if you need to go to Facebook to see my kid, then you don't need to see my kid.** Yep, I think that unless I can see myself marrying you, then you're not going to meet my kid. And that's two-pronged. For one, at the point that I want you to meet my daughter, I have to tell my ex that I want my daughter to meet you. In the realm of convos I don't look forward to having that is probably number one. And secondly, if I get to the point where I truly feel like you need to meet my child, that means I feel like I'm ready to incorporate you into her life somehow and that's the biggest, and scariest step ever. Ever. Ever.

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I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that mentally it's not all fun and games. I don't have many regrets in life but one that will always live with me is that decisions I made (I never cheated or anything, the relationship fell apart and I definitely played my part) precluded my daughter from having the chance to grow up in a two-parent household headed by both of her actual parents. That gives me pause when I meet new women. It scares me that it could happen again. My daughter is happy and she's doing well. She's got two parents who love her and she knows it. But I'm so scared about ruining something else. Something so beautiful that I have to literally talk myself into accepting that I'm not a bad person at times. It's not easy. I have to remind myself that I'm a good guy because I don't wake up every morning to my daughter slapping me on the forehead and asking me for juice. And that kills me a little bit inside every day.

But she's happy. And I'm happy about that. So she's teaching me to be a better man so that I can be that for somebody else. Relationships and parenting, I swear.

Like I said, being a single father is an odd ball of wax.

*A delicate balance, naturally.
**So, no, that ain't us in the stock photo above.

You can read more from Panama Jackson at Very Smart Brothas.

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