I was brought up to treat women as equals without exception. As soon as I had children of my own I wanted to be completely involved and I did everything possible apart from breastfeeding. Both my children weren’t interested in breastfeeding so I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to spring into action early and do my fair share of bottle feeding and my ex was able to get some much needed rest. This included during the night, after all they were my miracles too and I cannot put into words the absolute love and devotion I had and still have for my daughters.
My ex wife and I never intended our marriage fail along with our plans, dreams and aspirations. But it did blow up in our faces and like many others before us we became an unwanted statistic. Ironically we were really prepared to cope, possibly because we knew we were heading for the edge of the cliff and when we did go over we had talked things through in all matters to do with our children so when I left the house we all knew what was happening and had involved the girls in the conversation, at least the bits they could understand.
From the moment my girls departed the womb I was going to be the best Dad in the world. When a relationship ends and you have children it means you have to be Dad and Mum when the kids are with you. This meant my mission was to be an absolute amazing Dad and do my very best at being a Mum when I had to be. I know I will never be a Mum but be there emotionally. An example would be being really worried my daughter might have her period during school hours so I bought a little pencil case and got some pads, wipes and knickers, a kind of start up kit. Thankfully this did not happen and the accessories were never used.
One of the things that really annoyed me was most of the women I knew thought I woulds not be able to cope, this will be an epic fail and even some women were willing me to fail, waiting for the gaps to appear and me to loose total control. In truth I hadn’t time to fail. My kids were having their own little trauma’s, like not enough milk left for their cereal, a friend not talking to them, having too much homework, starting secondary school or just the usual sibling arguing.
Of course I made mistakes but was quick to learn any decision I made affected everything, but I was determined to hold everything together including myself even when it takes my girls a lifetime to get out the door or just out of bed in the morning. I also remind myself frequently I am not perfect and I am sure I do things that irritate my girls, most for the right reasons! I am also aware the girls will try to play us off each other and it is so important not to talk their Mum down even if I agreed with what was being said. She is Mum and like me adjusting to life as a single parent 50% of the time. Our marriage may have broken down but my respect has not and I would like to think she feels the same.
I worked for three years in Childcare as a General Manager of two leading and large facilities. It is unusual to find a male within this industry and I was expecting some negative feedback. In the largest unit parents, children and colleagues embraced my addition and contribution but in the other one not so much. Mum’s had real concerns which automatically led to dad’s having concerns which in turn led to an email being sent to the proprietor which the content shocked me. My gender was attacked and it was assumed all men were not capable of being in a position of responsibility to look after the safety and wellbeing of children. I can safely say this is the only time I was left speechless and hurt. It took me one year to win all of the parents, ironically the children took to me immediately and to this day I see them sometimes out and about and always get a warm welcome. This was the best job I ever had and feel privileged to have worked amongst such a great group.
Naturally enough when my marriage ended I was responsible for organising playdates for my girls with their friends some mum’s were cautious. Again, I felt my role as a parent was questioned. I would never presume to mandate to a parent who should care for their child. But, it was obvious the only matter of fact that was being questioned was my gender and not my capabilities as a parent. It is not a competition as to which gender makes the better parent as each gender is different and brings something unique to the table. Internationals woman’s day was last weekend and I celebrate that and want my daughters to be the best they can. But surely all things being equal Dad’s deserve the respect of being capable of caring for children especially when they put themselves out there? Or am I tainting all women with the same brush and I should just put it down to ignorance and prejudice? Lets look at the bigger picture;
Would you want your child cared for a jew or a catholic, an Asian or a Europen? It is very hard when it looks like that and if it did such views would be challenged as they perpetuate prejudice. No more than the opinion that a man is less qualified than a woman to care for a child.
A major contributing factor to the thought process here and no doubt it is a very uncomfortable one for some women to acknowledge is the subtle inference that a male is more likely to pose risk of abuse. Without a doubt tis is disgusting and vile but a fact, there is a greater risk of abuse occurring at the hand of someone in a child’s family or social circle. We, as parents are hardwired to protect our kids and will always do everything in our power to protect our children, that’s our job and God we love our children.
As parents, like within the childcare industry whose workers undergo extreme vetting to ensure our children are protected and there are safeguards put in place like how and when a male interacts with children and from what age. What I am trying to say is do not unfairly view every male as a predator. Men can and do provide an equal measure of care and nurturing like women. We are as good role models as women for children. You must agree that young children should not be conditioned to a view that nurturing and care are only elements that a woman can provide. Is this not like saying only men make good Engineers and Soliders? I want my daughters to have the opportunity to pursue whatever career they wish and I know women make fantastic Engineers and Soliders and believe it, Men are more than capable of looking after children and making a great parent.
Unfortunately single Dad’s will remain to be scrutinised and receive strange looks from the Mum’s and as my children’s social circle widens I am sure, because I am a single Dad they will think twice and even three times before making their decision whether to trust me to care for their child during a play date with my daughter. I don’t expect you to make a hasty decision but please don’t make that decision purely based on the fact that I am a male.