There are a lot of things that I can count on for Fathers’ Day. Ugly ties, Last minute shoppers swarming sports apparel stores, Barbecue’s instead of big dinners and endless photo tributes on Social Media. You can also count on the fact that a huge chunk of those tributes will be from individuals celebrating Mother’s or other women on Father’s Day. This only makes sense in a world where more and more mothers and even grandmothers are raising children alone. It’s not a knock on the men that actually do put in the hard work of raising children. It is more of an immutable fact. According to singlemothergide.com, about 4 out of 10 children were born to un-wed mothers. While there are many single parent fathers “according to the US Census Bureau, out of about 12 million single parent families in 2014, more than 80% were headed by single mothers.”
The newest disturbing trend on social media is men attempting to discredit these celebrations of single mothers by stating that they don’t deserve to be recognized on Father’s Day. My question is what is the appropriate way to celebrate women who pull double duty in every sense of the word. How do you recognize someone who works 2 jobs, does all the disciplining, all the worrying, and all the planning and makes all the sacrifices? Why would you not allow space for celebrating for doing exactly what they did? When a person says “my mother played the role of mother AND father” they are not just being trendy. They are speaking an authentic truth about their experience.
This new movement and effective silencing of this experience is nothing more than another layer of good ol misogyny. The signs and messages beg women to “let men have their day.” My challenge to them is to do a better job in holding their own brothers accountable. Stop high fiving these same men when they leave the mothers of their children holding the responsibility. Stop calling it simply the media wanting to portray men, specifically black men, as dead beat dads and acknowledge this hole that is being left in our community. “My Brother’s Keeper” shouldn’t only include intervening with at risk young men or supporting those on the right track. It should also include encouraging these brothers to step up once they birth a child whether it’s through counseling, career support or relationship intervention. Simply saying “don’t talk about brothers” should not even be an option. It is not the responsibility of the children of these women or the women themselves to (once again) protect the image of black men by acting like there aren’t people affected by this culture that makes it cool to ignore your children. My own father dipped in and out when he wanted to then when he got older wanted to be seen as a larger than life father figure. I have learned I am not the only child whose father viewed fatherhood as something you step into once you are older and your children are grown. And we have as much right to celebrate our mother/fathers as everyone else. If you don’t like it remember that next time you laugh over drinking with your friend that’s decided that leaving his children hanging is his next level pimp game. SMDH.