As a single parent/involved father, I make it a point to be heavily involved in every area of my son’s life because I want to know everything that is going on in my son’s life. Whether it’s emotionally, physically, spiritually, psychologically, educationally and any other way possible.
Apparently, that isn’t the norm.
When I show up in some areas of my son’s life, I am looked at as if I am a dinosaur, unicorn, or disingenuous. Imagine my frustration and lack of understanding. It took me a while to understand that this wasn’t about me and my role in my child’s life. It was about what society is used to.
What am I getting at?
I am getting at three specific places where I feel society doesn’t recognize Fathers. These are based on my experiences and other Fathers who have expressed the same sentiments. The three areas are at school, the doctor, and emotionally. This is based on our (Fathers) lack of presence historically. There are more areas I could discuss, but I will save you a 3,000-word blog article.
I will say this: Society is so used to Mom handling everything domestic and related to child rearing!
Traditionally, the Mother is involved with the school and Fathers are not. I was blindsided by the limited physical presence of Fathers in their children’s school. This is what I saw and what I was told by school staff.
We often don’t know the name of their teachers. We don’t know our children’s school schedule. A lot don’t even know what grade our children are in.
I guess I should not have been surprised by all the school’s attention and resources available/directed towards Mothers with no mention or resources for Fathers.
They have mothers meet-up groups. They know and cater to the Mother in the schools. Mothers know the teachers. Mothers participate in bringing goodies for the holiday parties. Mothers show up for the parent-teacher conferences. Mothers call the school to find out what is going with the child; whether it’s regarding behavior or grades. Mothers are frequently seen walking the halls with concern and educational interest for their children. MOTHERS VOLUNTEER for everything from field trips to carpools.
I didn’t understand why I was ignored. The above statements explained why an involved Father is not only a novelty and rare. We need to be a stable presence.
Here is an example: I went to a school parent-teacher conference and throughout the entire conference I received minimal eye contact and consideration of knowing what was going on with my child. I found myself forcing my presence or proving that I knew everything that was involved with my child’s education. I wanted them to know that I was just as involved as his mother. I realized that it wasn’t personal; it was more of what they are used to. My partner in parenting noticed it too. #TEAMWORK
Similarly to the school, the traditional assumption and historical background of parenting is that Mommy is always physically present and Daddy is informed later by Mommy. Mommy makes the appointments. Mommy takes care of the child when sick. Mommy knows what medicine and healing regimen works best for the child. Mommy knows the Doctor and Administrative Assistant and they know her. MOMMY KNOWS BEST?
Well, let me tell you, DADDY KNOWS BEST TOO!
Here is an example: My son’s mother and I have a routine that works; we also have a great co-parenting relationship. We both understand that it’s not enough that I carry him on my health insurance. We understand that it’s more than the financial covering. We went to the doctor one morning after he had been with me for a few days. He had a fever and was struggling with breathing in his sleep. I called the Doctor and was able to get an emergency appointment due to the symptoms I described.
The lack of acknowledgment of my presence was evident once we got to the appointment. Even though that was our first time meeting a new Pediatrician, the experience wasn’t anything new.
There was a problem!
The problem was that the Pediatrician spoke and made eye contact with Mommy ONLY. I sat there and listened as they questioned Mommy only, made eye contact with Mommy only, while ignoring the fact that our child was with Daddy the night before. Mommy and Daddy communicate well, but it just so this was an emergency situation so Daddy had all the answers. During the visit, I kept answering all of the questions and it was a surprise to the Doctor. The Doctor eventually caught on and said, “this isn’t typical where both parents know what is going on. Dad, if present at all, sits in the corner and serves as a physical presence only”.
Can’t blame Doc. They are used to what they are used to.
I won’t go deep into this topic. But I have questions: What is your child feeling or do you tell them how to feel? Especially sons! Can your child be emotional with you? Can your child be vulnerable with you? No? Why, because he needs to be hard, a protector, MAN, head of household, strong, emotionless and opposite of women? When is the last time you asked them what they are feeling? Are you emotionally available to your child?
Here is my stance on it. We must be in tune with our child’s emotions to understand what they are facing/feeling. We can’t pre-determine our answers to their questions and problems. This does not make us or them soft; it helps them direct their emotions and helps us with understanding them better.
- I wrote this to say that collectively, we need to do better. We need to change the narrative and all it takes is a decision, follow-through, and being consistent. Change your routine to include involvement, it will do wonders for you and your child’s life.
Who is with me?
(Image credit: huffingtonpost.com)