Last weekend on Clutch I had not one, but two stories running about relationships. Namely how the New York Times' forgot all about fathers in a piece about single mothers and how looking for a Fixer-Upper is a romantic fallacy foisted upon us by Hollywood to make women (and men) miserable.
First up: Fathers! I have one. And he raised me to the best of his abilities, continues to love and support me and defines himself by his ability to be there for his wife, adult children and now, brand new grandchild. You know? He's basically a "responsible human being" who "values the people he loves and who loves him." Typical decent person stuff.
Yet, for some people a man shirking his parental responsibilities is just "a man being a man," which is an insult to men like my father and countless other men who stand up and do what they're supposed to do.
It's more like "Humans being humans and some humans are crappy and should wear condoms."
You don't do anyone any service when you make excuses for fathers who refuse to take any responsibility for the children they help create. Don't overly focus on single moms at the expense of men who need to stand up and be counted. Don't diminish the importance of men in raising children.
(B)y only focusing on the few unfit mothers and placing all blame, responsibility, and expectations for child-rearing on women, we do ourselves a disservice. When I was growing up (and even today), people were quick to give my mother praise and credit. After all, she was my primary caretaker. She taught me to read and write and nurtured me as a stay-at-home mom. But it was my father who through his career created the environment where my mother – a former school teacher – could stay at home and teach me how to read and write long before my peers. He was also the one who encouraged my creativity and convinced me to go into journalism. He was the one who taught me how to make pancakes and to punt a football. And he was the one who demanded that I respect my mother, even when I felt she was wrong. He’s the one I still go to for advice and guidance on everything from negotiating a pay raise to dating. Even now, at 34, he still feels responsible for me, worries about me, and tries to help when I stop being stubborn and let him.
He’s extremely important — just as important as my loving mother. But even I feel like at times he has underplayed his worth out of his tendency to see mothers as more valuable to children.
Have you ever dated someone who you knew was wrong for you but just thought if you "loved" them hard enough they'd change? Yeah ... how'd that work out for you?
The sagest advice my father ever gave me in dealing with people is that “You cannot change someone.”
It sounds weird that a father would have to tell his child this, but if you’re a father (or mother), it’s almost irresponsible not to tell your daughter she is not capable of making another person change. This is important as it will save her a lot of grief in life since society is pretty hell-bent on romanticizing the notion that a good, virtuous, loving, or kind woman can “change” beasts into beauties.
Our society tells little girls to dream of landing that “fixer-upper” who will finally be all hers.