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NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission.  All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.  

November 10, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

Dear readers,

What you are about to read is, unlike every other word you’ve read for the past six months, not commentary on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Indeed, that fact may be one reason you’ve taken temporary refuge at this site. Consider it your safe space. Here you are safe from the non-stop commentary. You’re far from the haranguing crowds.

That said, I do want to issue one plea. In the past 24 hours, President-elect Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and President Obama have all issued calls for us as a nation to come together, put aside our differences and support/loyally oppose the new Trump Administration. I would like to do the same. As a nation and a people, we have far more in common with each other than the continual emphasis on our differences would suggest. For better or worse, the United States still occupies a special place in world affairs. That is a role not to be taken lightly. It is also a role that carries with it a tremendous burden for those in office, particularly the president. Every president needs, if not the agreement, then at least the goodwill of the American people.

So please, let us tone down the rhetoric that often descends to the hateful (New Yorker, 11/9/16). We owe it to the man whom the people elected to act like loyal Americans who put the well-being of the country ahead of divisiveness. More importantly, we owe it to ourselves because, after all, we’re in this together and no one is helped by tearing down the edifice.

With that, back to business.

Single Dad ‘Exhausted All the Time’; Article Gives Him the Cold Shoulder

This article, despite its misandric “hook” actually has, in its backhanded way, a bit to offer to the ongoing discussion about children and parenting (Metro, 11/7/16).

It seems a father took to Reddit to air his gripes about his situation. His girlfriend became pregnant with his child. She wanted an abortion; he wanted the child. She agreed on the condition that she would have nothing to do with the baby post-birth. He agreed and she carried the child to term, handed the boy to him and left. A family court ordered that he have sole custody and she pay child support, which she does. In fact, she pays 25% more than the amount ordered. But, keeping her promise, she takes no part in the child’s life. He doesn’t even know who she is.

Now the father writes,

‘I’m raising our son all on my own. He is 18 months old now and he has never met her and I don’t even have any photos of her even.

‘I am burned out and hate being a single parent. I love my son but I resent him. My family tries to help when they can but I do it most of the time.

‘I would never hurt or neglect him but I am exhausted all the time.

Apparently the dad went back to court to try to get the judge to order Mom to take on some of the parenting duties. Naturally, the judge said he couldn’t force her to care for the child. So now the dad is stuck. He is “exhausted all the time” and resents the little tyke.

Now, the response to this missive is all too obvious: you made your bed, now lie in it. The woman acceded to his wish to have a child and made it clear that she’d take no part in raising him. The man has no legitimate complaint except about his own over-confident decision-making.

Of course, living in the world we do, it comes as no surprise that the article’s writer can only crow about the man’s predicament.

In a thread that will make every single mother in the world want to scream into a pillow, a man has taken to Reddit to explain how being a single dad is really hard.

Yes, according to Rebecca Reid, the only lesson to draw from the situation is that this man faces what “every single mother in the world” faces, i.e. the task of raising children without any input from their children’s fathers. That of course is vastly at odds with the facts, which are that the great majority of dads very much want to be involved with their kids but are often sidelined by mothers themselves, the courts or both.

Way back in the 90s, Sanford Braver taught us some very good lessons about the realities single fathers face and how they attempt to deal with them. And none of what Braver found supports the myth of the “deadbeat dad.” The simple fact is that the process the man and his girlfriend went through – much discussion about the child and who would and wouldn’t do what – rarely happens. As the science on maternal gatekeeping shows, mothers often marginalize fathers in the lives of their kids whether the dads like it or not.

This is one of the few men we’ve run into who’s a “single father by choice.” By contrast, many women have chosen the path of single motherhood. What the article could have mentioned, but didn’t is that, because single parenting is hard, draining work, it really should be avoided if possible. For a long time now, we’ve wrongly and destructively considered single motherhood as, in Dan Quayle’s words, “just another lifestyle choice.” Now as then, it’s not. It’s a bad way to raise a child.

What the man on Reddit should have done when faced with the woman’s adamant refusal to take part in caring for the child with whom she was pregnant was to agree to the abortion and move on. If he wanted a child so much, he should have found a woman who did too and had a baby with her.

My guess is that the man had seen and heard enough from the news and pop culture to convince him that single parenthood was (a) a perfectly acceptable way to raise a child and (b) not so difficult that a single parent couldn’t do it well. Generally speaking, both propositions are wrong, but you’d never know it by the various messages on the subject that are so prevalent in today’s culture.

And, speaking of the news media, the linked-to article entirely eschews the usual “you go girl!” rhetoric that usually attends pieces on single motherhood. No, the guy made a faulty decision and now is trapped, but that doesn’t mean Reid has to denigrate him, does it? Apparently it does.

But more important than the article’s gleeful misandry is that it missed a golden opportunity to give valuable information to its readers about how hard single parenting can be and how it’s seldom in the child’s interests to deny it one parent. Sadly, all that was sacrificed to yet another chance to denigrate a father who, whatever his past error, now finds himself and his son in a bad place and needing help. Well, he didn’t get it from the Reddit crowd and he didn’t get it from Reid.

I could have told him.

 

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National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

#fathers, #childsupport, #singlefatherhood, #singlemothers, #maternalgatekeeping

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