There is no shortage of podcasts and news segments about the rise of single-mother homes and the accompanying fatherlessness crisis. In fact, self-proclaimed experts have with their chests declared single moms the worst parents out there. Every perceived negative societal outcome from homosexuality to promiscuity and crime is blamed on single moms and fatherlessness in homes. Let’s talk about this alleged crisis and why I’m convinced it’s just a patriarchal lie.
Society is interesting. Most single moms don’t start out as single moms, they don’t choose to be single moms. They are often forced by their partners to be single mothers. These men leave or by their actions force the women to leave. The woman is then left raising a child alone without a father then she is blamed for her child’s apparent fatherlessness. Make it make sense. When women say the blame should be on the parent who left and absconded responsibility, they are told they should have chosen better. Society works overtime to excuse and enable men’s selfishness, irresponsibility, and abuse. The fault can never lie with men.
Demeans women’s contribution
So the man leaves and the woman is left to care for the child, somehow nothing she does is right. She is the only parent taking responsibility for this child but is blamed for everything at every turn. What society says to women is that nothing they do will ever be enough. As with all other contributions women make, it is demeaned and devalued. Women’s presence is as bad as men’s absence. It messes children up just as much.
What do fathers bring to the table?
Fatherlessness is linked to a variety of perceived societal problems most commonly homosexuality, promiscuity, and crime. We’re told that boys and girls who grow up without their fathers are likely to become homosexuals, girls are likely to become promiscuous and boys are likely to lack any discipline and become criminals. That apparently is what happens to children who grow up without fathers. (One day we’ll talk about how all that is just enforcing rigid patriarchal views of gender, sexuality, and power.)
Terror in the name of discipline
Let’s talk about children who grow up with fathers in the home. What do fathers do in most households? They bring money and they are the discipline arm aka the person who beat you up when you did something wrong as a child. Stop me if you’ve heard the one about everyone scattering to their rooms as soon as the ‘man of the house’ walks in. That’s fathers. Most people grew up with that father, a man who brought the money and terrorized the children and their mom. Of what benefit is this to children? Of what value is this to children?
Model toxic masculinity
The truth is the first person who models toxic masculinity to you if you grow up in a two-parent home is your father. Children learn by observing. That’s what you learn from having a man in the house at a young age. That men are domineering, tough, violent, and in control and women are weak, subject to men’s whims.
Fathers when they are present may contribute financially. Single mothers are one of the poorest segments of society. If we control for wealth, then it stands to reason that children fare better with single moms. They are not terrorized and don’t get toxic masculinity modelled to them at a young age. This is why I’m convinced that the fatherlessness crisis is a made-up lie. It’s a lie that’s perpetrated to make people feel like they missed out on something by not having a man in the home. You imagine that because other people had that thing, you missed out by not having it when you really didn’t miss out. If anything you may have gotten lucky. It’s psychological warfare and propaganda at its best.
If you control for wealth, women and children fare better without men. Single mothers are happier than married moms, they do less housework and have more leisure time. It stands to reason that these benefits translate to the children. While these studies were conducted in Western countries, that’s no reason to discount them. One of the reasons married women do more housework and have less time to themselves is that when women are paired with men, they feel more pressure to perform gender which leads to more work for them. The absence of men eliminates this pressure. For this reason, it’s safe to conclude that this benefit translates to women elsewhere as well. This is why controlling for wealth is a major game-changer for single mothers. In a patriarchal society, men are far more trouble than they are worth that’s why they need all that PR to make women feel like they need to be married or need to raise children with a man.
Patriarchal men are far more trouble than they are worth that’s why they need all that PR to make women feel like they need to be married or need to raise children with a man. Until men change and bring more to the table than money and discipline, it’s safer and healthier to raise children far from them. Children need a stable, loving parent more than they need some arbitrary patriarchal structure.
One study found that children who struggle with behavioural issues are those who did not have a stable loving parent. It had nothing to do with being from a two-parent home or a single-parent home. All children need is a stable loving parent and their financial needs met. That’s it and that’s the scariest thing in a patriarchal society that tells us not having a man in the house messes children up. Fathers may indeed be missing but the fatherlessness crisis is greatly exaggerated.
Addendum: A few good men
Often with critical pieces like these, there’s this pressure to clarify, ‘not all men’ and so, not all men. Are there good fathers out there? Doubtless. There are fathers who are present beyond the “I put a roof over your head and pay for your school fee” framework. Social media is awash with heartwarming tales of fathers who went out of their way to play with their children, encourage and support them and in a million little ways show them how absolutely treasured they are as children and adults. More power to these fathers and their lucky children. Here’s hoping future generations consider that the norm, not the exception.
*The views expressed here are the opinion of the writer and do not reflect the position of the blog on this issue.
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