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Why single moms don’t get to celebrate Father’s Day

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There are plenty of memes going around Facebook giving Father's Day shout-outs to single moms who “do it all.”

Make your way down the card isle at any store, and you will come across a half-dozen Hallmark cards designed for moms on this day for dads.

Cards read:

“Happy Father's Day, Mom!”

“Mom: You're the best! Thanks for being both father and mother.”

“Happy Father's Day to all the single moms pulling double duty.”

It is not OK to wish single moms a Happy Father's Day.

Should you wish single moms a “Happy Father’s Day”?

What your kids hear when moms say they are the mother and the father

  1. “Fathers are replaceable.”
  2. “Men are irrelevant.”
  3. “I am a martyr and you owe me.” 
  4. “Your dad sucks.
  5. “Your dad will never be an important part of your life.

Should you wish single moms a “Happy Father’s Day”?

In short: Moms never get to celebrate Father's Day. Don't wish any female-gendered person Happy Father's Day. It is absolutely uncool to every male, female, adult and child.

Overwhelmed and (often justifiably) resentful mothers who do not have a supportive co-parent (whether she is in a relationship or not) have long taken on the mantra: I am the mother and father.

Subtex: I do the work of the two parents that a child should have, because the asshole won't do his share. Sometimes, the backstory is less bitter and involves the death of the father.

I get it. I really get it. I get that you do all, or most of the work.

I get that he checked out and that is so, so, so wrong and absentee fathers hold men, women, fathers, mothers and most of all children back.

Absentee fathers is a big freaking problem in this country, as I have explored in numerous posts. What to tell your child when their father is not involved.

I am making it in my work a priority to address and remedy.

Why single moms are not fathers on Father's Day

First, no child is guaranteed two parents. In fact, through most of history in societies around the world, children were raised by whole clans. The idea of a two-parent nuclear household is an advent of the past 150 years.

Second, the problem of absentee fathers is not because men are inherently horrible, and do not care about their children. The reason so many kids suffer without a father — and mothers of those children struggle to raise them — is an institutionalized and complex social shitshow that is caused by both genders equally, hurts both genders equally. In summary:

Our society, culture and policy has institutionalized the patriarchial model that men are breadwinners, women are caretakers.

Countless articles bemoan that even educated, high-earning married women do far more child care and housework than their husbands. Why?

One possible explanation for this is that by outearning their husbands, wives worry that they are breaking norms on gender expectations. The same norms are at play for men in female-dominated occupations, such as nursing, who are more likely than other men to do more masculine types of housework like power-hosing the deck or mowing the lawn. Women in male-dominated occupations, such as law enforcement, tend to do more feminine tasks such as cooking and washing the dishes. These men and women are “correcting” for their jobs by asserting their masculinity and femininity through housework.

ALIYA HAMID RAO, in The Atlantic

Now, let's look at separated and divorced families. Only one state, Kentucky, as of 2019, has any laws that guarantee that both parents — mothers and fathers — are guaranteed a presumption of equality when it comes to parenting time. The rest of the states default to the decades' old mantra of best interest of the child which means that both parents are encouraged to fight tooth and nail to prove they are the better parent, the reward for which is majority custody and parenting time.

All the white, straight, rich men (who have benefited for centuries from unpaid at-home wives) overwhelming award mothers primary custody. Dads are relegated to every-other-weekend parttime visitors in their childres' lives — often with unaffordable child support requirements.

Conflict between parents ensues. The less parenting time fairness, and the more conflict, studies show, the less involved fathers are.

The men check out. Fatherlessness ensues. Inconsistent involvement from fathers is tied to every social ill: Emotional and academic delays, low employment, incarceration, addiction, and an increased likelihood of repeating these family patterns.

Are single-parent families whole?

Out now from Sourcebooks:

The 50/50 Solution: The Surprisingly Simple Choice that Makes Moms, Dads, and Kids Happier and Healthier after a Split

by Emma Johnson

Cover of The 50/50 Solution book by Emma Johnson.

Featured in Newsweek, MSN, Slate.

What your kids hear when moms say they are the mother and the father

By saying: I am taking credit for being a father, you tell your children:

1. “Fathers are replaceable.”

They are not.

It is heartbreaking that your kids' dad is not an equal parent, but that doesn't mean that his absence is irrelevant.

It's not.

It's a big deal, and your children deserve the honor of feeling sad, mourning the absence of a committed dad.

2. “Men are irrelevant.”

Men aren't irrelevant.

You don't die when you don't have a romantic partner, and your kids don't die when their dad isn't around.

But that does not make men irrelevant.

You have a son, or you have a daughter.

If we are going to teach our children to respect women, we must respect all genders equally.

3. “I am a martyr and you owe me.” 

First of all, no one owes you shit, no matter the day of the year.

Second, you kids don't owe you because you raise them.

The makeup of their family, the involvement of each parent, is on those parents.

You do you, raise your kids and stop asking them or the world for acknowledgment.

4. “Your dad sucks.” 

He might suck. You might be right.

But don't say that to your kids — directly or passively.

Trust me, I get the temptation.

I've been guilty of saying bad stuff about my kids' dad.

But it is not pretty and you will feel bad later.

26 reasons being a single mom is awesome

5. “Your dad will never be an important part of your life.”

That may be true, but it may not be.

There are many, many examples of parents who checked out of their kids' lives, but re-emerged to be meaningful fathers and mothers.

Maybe they finally get their priorities straight.

Or deal with mental health or financial issues that hold them back from being involved.

Other times, the vitriol of the divorce or breakup subside and make room for healthy co-parenting.

If you establish that Father's Day does not involve your kids' father, you close that door of hope.

Instead, you do what you can to raise those gorgeous children.

It may mean welcoming in other male figures (even if their dad is actively involved — it is impossible to have too much love for our kids!).

Related: When to introduce your boyfriends to your kids — or have him sleep over?

It may mean growing your community by way of friends and neighbors and other bonds that make life full and happy, and help your children know that life is abundant with love — as much love as they are willing and able to accept.

Even if the love does not come from the people whom you crave it from most, there is indeed more love than you, your kids, or even their dad, can fathom.

Your kids and you get to celebrate your love for each other in May. On Mother's Day. [Happy Mother's Day to you, you incredible single mama!]

Until then, I wish all the fathers — biological, surrogate, foster, step, unofficial, official, absent, part-time, incarcerated, and otherwise — a very happy Father's Day.

Maybe you are opening a power tool and crappy popsicle stick framed pic of your kid, and enjoying a regular ol' Sunday with them.

Or, not at all. But in some way you made a contribution, and if you are like a huge portion of dads in this country who do nowhere near your share:

I believe you can do better. I believe you will do better.

And whenever you're ready to step up, please, please do. It's never too late.

29 ways to co-parent like a pro


Disagree with the majority of the article. There are no scientific studies, no statistical data. This is all “horse crap” for lack of better wording. Its an option piece and this lady should be lucky she has a platform to share her false narrative.

To those who celebrate Father’s day by honoring the work, love and dedication of single moms- good job!! Thanks for being there. You are appreciated.

While I understand the (albeit biased) thought process behind this, as both a mother and someone who works in the mental health field, it fails to address the uncomfortable truth that there are fathers who will and never should be allowed contact with their children- sexual abusers for example, or perpetrators of repeat violence as the result of a dissociative personality disorder. In cases like that, let’s please applaud the brave mothers who often fight to protect their children from biological fathers despite a patriarchal custody system and society that often works against them as they do so, but more importantly not wish those absent fathers a happy day and tell them it’s never too late to step up. In some cases, it absolutely, for the safety and well being of children, is too late for a father to be a parent and it’s dangerous to leave that part of the conversation out.

Fuck this trash. Both my brother and I were over 18 when my dad died and we all know parenting doesn’t stop at 18. My mom has had to make decisions and navigate being a parent to adult children alone for 12 years now and she deserves praise. ADDITIONALLY, it makes ME feel better as the child of a dead father to celebrate someone corporal on such an emotional day. So you should be incredibly embarrassed by this 1-track mind article. Sure, not all men are trash but some women deserve the attention for being dad.

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