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Single Father Parenting: Inequities In Stereotypes


Why is a single father parenting a child seen somehow more saintly than a single mother parenting a child? A single mother is sometimes viewed as irresponsible or selfish for not staying in a bad or abusive marriage for the sake of the children, but a single father parenting is seen as some sort of saint even if he instigated the divorce.

A single father parenting a child is somehow perceived to be:

* Selfless
* Dedicated
* Warm
* Responsible
* Capable

In the job market, if a single father has children, no one asks them to take less money for a job because the employer has to pay health care for the single father parenting a child. In fact an employer probably doesn't even ask if they are married or have children in the interview unlike many businesses in different states that are now openly discriminating against single mothers. They are never questioned about their dedication to the job or if they think they can manage their responsibilities while being a single parent.

The stereotypes of single mothers parenting are different than those of a single father parenting. If a single father is late for work because junior spit up on his suit and he had to change, no one thinks that's the reason. They assume he hit a traffic jam due to an accident. However, if a single mother hits a traffic accident and is late, she is viewed as being less dedicated and every action in the workplace is judged against her role as a single mother. In other words, it is assumed she must have been late because she was caring for one of her children. No one puts a single father parenting on to the "Daddy Track" at work, but many women are side-railed onto the "Mommy Track" and their chances for promotion suffer.

A single father parenting may want the same rights as a single mother to have custody of the children, however, he doesn't want to give up the obvious advantages that come with being male in this society, in terms of earning power and workplace status and with all the stereotypes that plays into. He still wants to be perceived as totally dedicated to his work and able to multitask and manage his office and home life no matter what the demands.

How will single fathers change the stereotypes in the workplace? It would be nice to think that single fathers would prove that discriminating against a single parent, whether male or female, is unacceptable. However, if the inequalities in the perception of males versus female caregivers are not addressed, the stereotypes will not only persist, but also become somewhat lopsided.

Will single fathers reach out to single mothers and help them in workplace or is this just another case of what's goose for the goose is not good for the gander? With a growing number of men seeking custody of their children, it will be interesting to see how the stereotypes are remolded. If society is willing to accept that a single father is making huge sacrifices and performing a valuable service to the community and their children, why shouldn't the same respect be given to women who must be the sole breadwinners for their families too?

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