Yes, I Know I'm Not The Dad

What happens when you have to step up and play both roles?


In recent years, there has been some controversy about Hallmark cards marketing Father’s Day cards to single mothers. To some, this is taboo and to others it like a fist pumping confirmations of all the hard work, struggle and sacrifice that single mom’s make to raise their kids alone. As a single mother I understand the sentiment that compels a child to thank a mother for the love and support given when a father is MIA. As well as the strong bond and support that single mothers offer each other in general, and specifically on Mother’s and Father’s Day. We have a keen understanding of what it is like to walk this road and want to offer acknowledgment of the struggle and sacrifice.


I also understand that there are hurt feelings looming in those fathers who support their children and even in those who don’t. Fathers who are actively participating in the lives of their children feel cheated, like they are getting a back handed compliment, or that they are being judged by the deeds of the so-called "dead beat dads." The so-called "dead beat" dads possibly feel frustrated by the powerlessness of their position. 

This debate opens old wounds, pitting moms vs. dads, the good parent vs. the bad parent and leaves each person in the situation broken, especially the children. One thing I realize is that we can’t judge any group of people using one broad brush stroke. Not all single mothers are good and not all non-custodial dads are bad and vice versa.


It’s not easy to be a single mom or a dad who is not with his children (at least this is what many men say who are not with their kids say). But let’s keep it real. There are some men who are not grieved or missing their kids, and they are choosing not to participate. These fathers, in my opinion, make it necessary for mom’s to fill both roles. Not being a father, but doing some of the things that a father generally does. Then when we are placed in this role we get the negative backlash. We’re accused of trying to be fathers. Don’t take my son to baseball because I want to be his father. I do it because he loves the game and he wants to participate. Keep Reading...

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Should I not do it so as not to, "Act like a father?" Should I get some random man to do it so he can be the surrogate father? Do I hook up with a guy so that my son can have some male role model, regardless of whether it is good for me or my son? Or maybe I just tell my son he can’t play baseball because taking the lead on that is a father’s job. That is absolutely ridiculous. There are things that must be done for my children whether they are done by their dad or me, and as a person I refuse to feel bad because I have picked up the slack. I say, get over it! Understand I can’t wait for someone else to do the job that needs to be done, if I’m the one here. I must do it! And if in the process, I get or give praise to another single mom in the same situation, so be it. This neither validates me as a father nor invalidates men as fathers. It is simply encouragement no more, no less.

This issue becomes frustrating to me because we are focusing on an issue that does not bring relief to either of the parents or to the children who really lose in this situation. Rather than argue about who gets what card, maybe we should try to foster dialogue that will help navigate these difficult relationships. We can’t erase the past of its hurt feelings or broken promises, but can put our focus on what is most important—the kids and their needs. That means we all have to "man up" or "woman up" and take on the roles necessary to raise healthy, happy kids. That is what I am committed to and if it means that I have to step into "fatherly roles" then that is what I am going to do!


Authentically Yours,

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