I’m a big fan of K. Danielle Edwards’ blog, where she muses about black moms, black marriage and generally basks in the glow of her successful nuclear family. It’s hard to hate on someone who has found love and can make it work — I know Danielle, so I know she deserves it. But I was taken aback by her recent post where she tables the thesis that single dads are really just, you know, glorified babysitters. That they don’t have to put in the time and effort that married men do.
I spend a chapter in my book “The Denzel Principle” on baby-mama drama and father’s rights. I don’t know how we quantify the worth of single dads to begin with, but let’s give it a try.
If the measure is by quantity of time spent, I think her point is a no-brainer. You get to spend more time with your kid when they live in the house, obviously. But when you are the non-residential parent and have scheduled visitation or you have shared custody of your kid half-time, then the time you spend is more precious and meaningful because you don’t take it for granted.
Not for nothing, the time you spend having to check up on the shack-ups, Penis-of-The-Week, other bedroom transients and step-fathers should also be figured into the equation. Sometimes, your child’s mother makes good choices and the new person in her life becomes a valuable addition to the family structure. Most times, he is a crank who, at some point or another, will have to be put in check.
Also, glorified babysitters don’t constantly have to have their rights enforced. Women think because they may have residential custody, that they have unilateral shot-calling capability. They don’t. Often, they need to be dragged back to remind them that shared parenting is exactly that, and no one parent can call shots willy-nilly. When arguing about the children, married men don’t have to do that. They just nod, say “yes, dear” and go pretend to fix something.
Single fathers also have to keep the child’s school on notice, so they don’t think you are one of those absentee black fathers that gets so much press. You end up dealing with their sexist and racist presumptions, having to constantly remind them to make sure you get a copy of report cards and the like.
When you take everything in total, small wonder single dads want to be recognized. Because married fathers are just live-in sperm-donors and nannys, biding time until they, too, are on the outside looking in.
Single fathers are not glorified babysitters. They are men every bit as worthy of the title of father, and they face a lot more obstacles and prejudices to be good fathers to their children.