When did Being an Absent Father Become so Normal?
Sometimes it seems as if it’s normalized for fathers not to be present in their child’s life. If you think about the people close to you, friends, family, partners, maybe even yourself, you begin to realize being raised by a single mother is a very common experience. We probably even hear the term a few times a day without even paying attention.
The damage caused by an inactive father is something that is fortunately being called out more and more. We see the amount of devastation a child that is neglected faces, as well as how the lack of support towards the mother is detrimental to the household. Everything from the mental to the financial state of the home is affected negatively when a man decides to leave everything in the hands of the mother. This is something that is becoming widely acknowledged. However, it poses the question, how is it so easy for a man to step away?
Accepting inactive fathers as the norm and showing much praise to those who do what mothers are expected to do is something that indirectly creates an imbalance and enables lethargic behavior towards fatherhood. By saying this, I don’t mean men should not be praised for being great fathers. Of course we want to uplift and encourage them to be their best. The issue is that we typically put an abundance of weight on the mother. We expect her to give it her all, and society’s much higher standards of her ensures her that opting out just isn’t an option. Conversely, fatherhood is viewed much different; because it’s so common for a man not to step up, men are often acknowledged for just being in their child’s life. This can construct a certain outlook in men that make them feel as if being present for the mother and child is a privilege to them both, when it should be looked at as a requirement.
It’s almost as if we’ve allowed the past redundancies of detached fathers influence us into allowing absentness to become the norm. If we want things to be different, we can’t go into the future with the same kind of energy. We must raise our expectations of fatherhood, so they can realize the power and beauty it holds instead of associating it with negativity.
All in all, nothing is wrong with praising fathers for what they are doing right, as long as we don’t do so in a way that acknowledges being absent as an option.
Written by: Christina Rousseau