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Mothers can’t be fathers too

Updated: July 22, 2013 6:10PM



Ihad not intended to write about fathers again so soon. But dear single sisters who wished yourselves a “Happy Father’s Day,” in my best Maury Povich voice: “YOU are not the father!”

I realize this is a sensitive subject. I have already encountered the wrath of some mothers pulling double duty in the absence of their baby daddy and who insist that they are both Mommy and Daddy.

Really? I don’t see how that’s possible. If you are the mother, you cannot also be the father. For starters, it is biologically impossible.

Still, I have noticed this trend on Father’s Days in recent years — single moms, claiming to be both.

Disclaimer: I am not insensitive to single moms. In the United States, nearly seven in 10 African-American children are born to single mothers and nearly four in 10 to single moms of all races. My own mom was once a single mother as were other relatives.

On Sunday, I was scrolling through Facebook when I stumbled over postings, sending Father’s Day shout-outs to single moms. I scratched my head but resolved not to say a word.

Too controversial. Too much potential for hurt feelings. Not my fight. Not my baby’s mama.

Then I came across another posting. Then another. And another.

“Enough . . . We must change the culture,” I wrote on my page. “Hallmark’s Mahogany line for African Americans makes a Father’s Day card for mothers. Single mothers wish themselves and other single mothers a ‘Happy Father’s Day.’ And we somehow think that’s OK or cute.

“It is a denigration of God-ordained masculine parentage and a slap against good fathers; a subtle undermining of the divine prescription of joint parenting by a mother and a father,” I continued. “Women can never “father.” That is a lie from hell . . . ”

OK, so maybe I came on a little strong.

Truth is, my point had less to do with my religious beliefs and more to do with my understanding of what sociologists, study after study and centuries-old wisdom on child-rearing say about the crucial role fathers — men — play in the success and stability of their children.

What bothered me was not as much the idea of sharing with moms what is supposed to be a celebration of dads but something more insidious. It was what I see as a potential shifting of our paradigm concerning family and the critical role of fathers.

It is the notion that a mother can fulfill the role of fathering.

Not.

And yet, I see looming on the horizon the potential to create a generation that believes fathers are disposable, at least optional.

And I fear that this kind of thinking will help give rise to the next generation of boys who also will become paternal abandoners and girls, destined to become single mothers, who will believe that mothering is also fathering.

I fear we will one day look back and wonder how what we once understood to not be ideal or acceptable — even if it was a fact of life — became the norm.

And I wonder: How can we ever do better unless we know better?

I know so many men who are fathers to their own children but who also serve tirelessly as coaches, pastors, deacons, teachers, principals, mentors, counselors, as benefactors and as strong shoulders for children without fathers. Imagine how far a “Happy Father’s Day” or greeting card might go for these unsung heroes.

So in my best Chris Rock voice, “Can a brother just have one day?”

Besides, for single moms admirably pulling double duty, there’s already a day. It’s called Mother’s Day.



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