I was perusing through one of the sites I write for yesterday. While looking for the dates to add to my invoice, I came across a headline and felt inclined to read. The author was inquiring whether or not fathers should receive praise for doing the basics as a parent. I thought it was an insightful read from a perspective that was different from my own.
Fatherhood is often assessed on the equivalent of a learning curve. Dads get excessive props for passing a test with a 65 as if it was a 100. It reminds me of when a high school my science teacher said with all of the conviction in the world “Chad is a solid B student,” as if that is something my mother and father should be proud of. This man with 30+ years of experience in education felt that if I worked to my potential I could be mediocre. That is how fatherhood-black fatherhood-is often perceived; many times by black mothers.
Advertisers have begun throwing dollars and campaigns at viewing fatherhood from a different light. There are commercials and digital content promoting dads doing fatherly things as if it is an anomaly. The question I would like to propose is “Why” as opposed to “Should” fathers receive the “potential to be a solid B student” treatment?
The patriarchs of television are often portrayed as bumbling idiots. With the exception of Heathcliff Huxtable and Danny Tanner, dads are seldom depicted as nurturing. There are many memes and such in which we are made fun as if we are the fun parents that do silly things. We don’t do hair, we leave our offspring to their own devices resulting in them getting into stuff they shouldn’t, or that we throw kids high in the air like we don’t know what we’re doing. Oh…and if you’re a father of color, you aren’t around and don’t pay child support *scratches the surface*.
While studies have reported otherwise-in which statistics mean nothing to the individual-how have so many experiences created this relatively collective paradigm? And why do we spend more time purporting instead of debunking it?
I find it perplexing that often mothers-or fathers-are seen as primary caretakers. If there is a give-and-take-you know…balance-how is one person primary anything; particularly in a two-parent household? Almost everything in society operates in a homeostatic pattern; so does parenting. The archetypes “Momma’s Boy” and “Daddy’s Girl” are just as prevalent as ever, no? That itself contradicts the nurturing and a predominant progenitor for their child than another model often talked about.
In 2016, traditional gender roles are meandering rapidly towards a different path. Many mothers are the bread-winning, career-oriented ones as well as communities of stay at home dads (Note: fathers hate that term). Nonetheless, the individual mindset seems to be slowly evolving with the time; ultimately causing a divide among men and women who already don’t understand each other due to well, science.
I wrote this three months ago and will say it again: I know just as many terrible mothers as I do fathers. However, motherhood is seldom looked at like “She’s a good mother.” If anything, many matriarchs are given more credit than they deserve.
The truth of the matter is that most fathers I know could care less about praise for being a good father; myself included. I personally love seeing more advertising and content displaying fatherhood-especially black fatherhood-because I enjoy seeing a major part of my identity being more often not in a more positive light; but as something that me-we-really are instead of stock characters in a tired narrative.