Girl, I don’t know how you became a single mom because everyone’s story is so different. But if you are one, you know how tough/painful/weird Father’s Day can be regardless of the situation. So maybe we should talk about that for a minute. Particularly since I saw a few rants recently about single mother’s stealing father’s day and how wrong it is.
I mean, I’d like to think that everyone should have their day and we should all just settle down. Generally, I prefer to avoid being drawn into a political debate, regardless of what it’s about. Except this one bugs me. Because I think we’re missing the point of view of the kids involved here.
And then there’s the not so small matter of the big ol’ stats in this matter that have largely gone unacknowledged in the debate as far as I can tell.
There is a major difference in who’s running single parent homes and it’s largely mothers. It’s a fact, it’s a stat, and current census data in the US indicates that approximately 83% of single parent homes are led by mothers. In Canada, women make up 79.9% of single parent families. Trust me. I truly wish this wasn’t the case. But it is.
That’s a hard number to argue with.
The fact is far more women than men are single parenting all by themselves. Which means single dad homes are in the deep minority. I like moms and dads equally but the reality is that most single parent homes are headed by mothers with fathers on the sidelines. Which deeply sucks since both moms and dads are necessary and valuable for children in different ways. Unfortunately, we need to acknowledge that this isn’t always an option for a variety of reasons so we do the best we can as parents.
Which is why I want to acknowledge all parents who try the best for their kids regardless of the backstory. So when it comes to Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, I can’t help but wonder why we need to make a fuss about a single mom being wished a happy father’s day when there isn’t a father in the picture. Really? We’re going to take another thing away from families that already have less than two parent homes?
Maybe we could possibly just acknowledge the women who are actually doing both jobs in an effort to raise kids well and let it go? Let single mother’s wish each other a Happy Father’s Day if it makes a tough day easier. What’s it to you? I’
I have some great man friends who are strong, smart, and committed as father’s to their kids, regardless of their current situation and I try to remember to wish them a happy dad day on both Mother’s and Father’s Day. There are three amazing dads in particular in my life that are single and nailing it with their kids. I adore these guys because these dudes are the bomb. They parent their kids rather than babysitting them, they do the grunt work that mothers do, and they show up every single day, often in the face of some serious crap from their children’s mothers. They just keep hanging in.
But you know what else they are? An exception. Which is probably why I love them so much! They give me major hope about how real men parent their kids.
So really, no offence to the dads that are there and doing it well. But there are so many that are missing in action that it’s kind of become a thing to acknowledge the moms and kids that are part of real families who have zero input from the men that made them that way. It happens. It happens a lot and it happened to me. Three friggin’ times.
And, no, I’m not a careless welfare mom/baby making whore, thanks very much.
My youngest daughter grew up without a father because he took off when I realized that I wasn’t suffering from food poisoning and that birth control pills and antibiotics don’t mix (Hey, it was 1994! Who knew?). Which made Father’s Day super hard on her. No so for my oldest gal, who has a nice dad and who’s father is my favorite ex-husband. (My only ex husband if you’re counting, cuz marriage freaks me out a bit.)
As for the boys, I didn’t give birth to them but they are as mine in every way that matters. They’ve never known their birth father since he also decided to get gone. Two babies born 12 months apart wasn’t for him. He was 18 when we last saw him. Do I hate him? Of course not. In fact, I’m mostly relieved since he was a bit of a mess as was their birth mother at the time. She was 17, if you’re wondering. These are high needs little boys with FASD so I’d rather they just left than continually undermine how I’m trying to parent them, thanks very much.
(For those that are struggling with co-parenting, you know what I mean. It’s hard. You maybe don’t like the kids’ dad anymore but you’re still trying to make things work. Seriously. Co-parenting is good. Do more of that. Say nice thing to your kids about their dad and other good things without choking on your tongue.)
But here comes Father’s Day once again for my “fatherless” boys and things are about to get weird. I’ve avoided it for a few years because the boys were really young and easily distracted.
Our previous daycare made tie cards for the dads. Mine said “mommy”. I melted because it’s just so sweet. But still kind if ick, right? This year, we’ll be on an overnight flight bound for Paris. That’s avoidance at an epic level right there. #winning #ifyoudontcountjetlag
Look, the reality is that men take off on their kids far more often than women do. I mean, we all have our days where we’d like to run, but mothers just tend to do that way less often than dads, regardless of the reason. Which means there are a shit ton of children out there struggling through Father’s Day. So let’s stop making this about women and men and just help kids get through it as best we can.
I’ve read the arguments that allowing kids to share Father’s day with their single moms teaches them that men are irrelevant, or that their father sucks, or that men are not important. Ummmmm. No. That’s not what I’m saying here. Because that’s neither true nor relevant for the sake of this discussion.
I’m saying lets have this awkward absentee dad day (for kids that don’t have a dad in their lives) be more about the child than expecting the kid to manage feelings about where their dad is and why their family is not as good as a two parent family. Because that’s how they wind up feeling when we push dumb stuff like this and make things all about us.
Good parenting, single or otherwise, needs to be child focused as much as possible. So maybe we can just make whatever parent day we’re dealing with about the kid for these two days out of the year and stop getting our panties all bunched up about who’s stealing what from whom. Kids didn’t ask to be raised by single parents and they sure as hell don’t deserve to manage our feelings about it.
You don’t like that some single mother’s celebrate Father’s day as a single mom? Don’t look. Don’t become one. Don’t weigh in. It’s that simple. Keep on moving.
But for the rest of you? Celebrate however the hell you want. Ignore the days entirely, eat ice cream for breakfast, or make yourself a tie shaped cake and share it with the kids no plates allowed. Just make it okay for the kids. That’s what really matters as parents in the end. Good parenting is about how helping children navigate tricky days, awkward things, and helping them find a place to belong. And maybe, just maybe, we could just take a step back and celebrate all families exactly as they are without a social media feeding frenzy over some imagined slight.
Happy Father’s Day! Happy Single Mother’s Day! Happy Awkward Family Event Day!