Should we applaud single fathers for the same work single mothers do?
There are more single mothers than single fathers. Failed relationships may occasion this singlehood, deaths of significant others, or the choices to go about parenthood alone from the get-go, for example, using sperm and ovary donors to conceive.
Whatever caused the family to be a single parent home, the majority of those who are often left or found taking care of the children are the mothers.
And reader, you will agree that raising children singlehandedly is no easy task. You are the primary parent who has to wear both hats- head of the home and nurturer of the family.
On a normal day, the parent who stayed or the remaining parent is required to earn money to keep the household running, the children in school, cover their medical costs, pay for their extracurricular activities, make hospital runs, keep the peace between extended families who want to spend time with the children at conflicting times, pay for vacations and endure cold wars with the absentee parent- all while struggling to maintain an identity as an individual and not just a parent. This is their life 24/7/365.
Also read: Why Uhuru is worried by single parent households in Kenya
Whether a nanny is helping out with the children or not, this single parent has no social life to boast of.
Work and family eat up much of their time, and on the off chance that they do get to attempt dating, the fact that they have children often disqualifies them from having and enjoying relationships that will end in serious commitment.
Now, a crop of single fathers is also emerging.
They are celebrated for doing the same thing single mothers do and go through. They are celebrated for spending time with their children, carrying babies in their carriers, cooking food at home instead of ordering takeout meals, washing clothes, enduring heartbreaks when women reject them and so forth. They are hailed for sacrificing themselves to care for the family and doing what is unexpected for men.
Also read: Saumu Mbuvi: Being a single parent is the best thing that ever happened to me
But then, should they be celebrated for being single parents? Should they be lauded for being parents to their own children? Should they be lauded for being the exception?
Should they be celebrated for living the lives single mothers live and are often stigmatized for? Is it okay for them to be excused when they say they are taking a short vacation to re-energize themselves to continue taking care of the family, while women are often demonized for leaving their kids behind to live their lives for a few days? For going out to a party?
I believe that both single mothers and fathers should be held to the same standards. We cannot be a society that looks kindly on single fathers either succeeding or struggling to maintain their families and fault single mothers for the same solely based on their relationship status.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander- so if you must celebrate single fathers, reserve some praise for single mothers too.
Also read: Akothee: Single mothers have ‘misused’ and taken advantage of me