Happy Father’s Day, Mom.
It started as a few images coming across my feed on social media then it became a discussion among friends. The campaign has even gone mainstream with a national ad campaign by Angel Soft.
It probably shouldn’t bother me the way it does but as a single mother I felt like I needed to weigh in. Here are some of my thoughts on the issue:
As a single mother I’m not both a mother and a father. I don’t do the job of both. Fathers have an important role in the lives of their children and even when a father isn’t involved it’s important for children to have father figures. In my daughters life we have loved ones both friends and family who provide important father figure type support.
Simple biology makes the way that men interact and the roles they play in a child’s life different than that of a mother/woman. The Wall Street Journal published an article that highlights some of the differences in how mothers and fathers interact and the effects of each type on child development.
I have many friends and family who have a traditional nuclear family. I also know many strong single mothers, and the role of mother is pretty consistent across the board. There is something to be said for mothers’ instincts and the nurturing aspects of motherhood that most women share. While discussing traditional gender roles may be taboo in today’s society the fact is the genders do behave and contribute differently in all aspects of life and society including child rearing.
Before I became a mother people said that motherhood would come natural and for the most part it has. My maternal instincts kicked in the moment I learned I was pregnant.
What’s interesting is these same instincts kicked in for the mothers I know who adopted or foster children, which is why I believe the characteristics of mother and fatherhood are biological. Women by nature, with some exceptions, are nurturing, protective and patient when it comes to children. Fathers share these qualities but frequently also are more adventurous, more rough and tumble and they bring life experiences and male qualities that can’t be substituted by women.
Father’s Day is a day to honor the fathers and father figures in our lives, just as Mother’s Day is to honor the mothers. Regardless of the role of the father every child has one.
This is not to diminish single mother households or other untraditional families but the fact remains they are not the same.
It does not diminish my role as a single mother who is the primary caregiver and breadwinner to honor the fathers, step-fathers or men who provide for children and who do have an active role in children’s lives. It is an important role and one worth celebrating in a culture that focuses too frequently on the lack of engagement by men in their children’s lives.
You can read my whole column at AL.Com here.