Worthy of Praise?

I think that we, as a society, are sort of backwards in who and what we praise. Because it can be so "easy" to do the wrong thing, we sometimes praise people who do what they are supposed to do, or we praise or celebrate people for the wrong thing!! But the real issue is that we have lowered the bar on what is right and what is expected. What the HECK am I talking about? Well, I personally know three guys who are raising their children, as in have full custody and are responsible for the day-to-day needs of the child or children. I think it's a wonderful thing!! The guys are singlehandedly raising their children for a number of reasons, whether the mom has passed or if she's just an incompetent parent for whatever reason! And again, I think it's remarkable that these dads that I know have stepped up to the plate. But I was thinking: should they get praise and celebration because they are doing what they SHOULD be doing? I mean, a child should have two loving, capable parents. If something happens to one, the other should step right in and raise, with the assistance of family and good friends, the child or children. I was on the phone with a friend last night and he was doing something ANY good parent would do: preparing his child for the next day. I was like "wow! That's sweet!" BUT, when I thought about it, if any of my women friends who are single parents, or even married, were doing the same thing, I'd be like "yeah, girl...same ole, same ole! Right?" And then I thought, "If he's the one raising her, WHO else will prepare her for tomorrow?" The reason I initially reacted to the fact that these guys--I flipped out, in a positive way!--were raising their children is because too often--if it happens ONCE, that's too often--people DON'T take care of their responsibilities! And because there are such large numbers of households headed by single women, I almost found it unfathomable that there are men who take care of their children alone! On one hand, I think it's incredible and it's wonderful and their stories should be told, but on the other hand, I'm thinking, "Shouldn't more fathers who aren't married to the mothers of their children just do what they are supposed to do?"

Just my thought for the day!


toya said…
I have to agree with you. I don't think that fathers who are responsible parents are any more worthy of praise or admiration than women who do the same job. I am a married woman and, truth be told, *I* do the bulk of the day-to-day caring for Sarai. Vic is a good father, but the weight of eveyrthing falls on me and that's the way it is more times than not in today's society. Also, I think that children, especially when they're younger, tend to cling to their mother as the one who nourishes and nurtures them. And that's fine, but I don't expect to get guff from Vic when he needs to do the job of parenting. Like this past weekend, when I had to leave for a day to travel to Rakkasah - he was pissed because Sarai had a fever and I left anyway. And my question for him was, "If you'd had somewhere to go and she had a fever, would you have thought twice about leaving her with me?" Of course, the answer was "no", to which I replied, "Then sack up and be a father!" and walked out.

Men don't deserve applause for doing what they're supposed to do. What do they want from me - a cookie?
PhillyPhile said…
I totally understand where you are coming from, however I disagree. I think we should praise when a person is doing what the supposed to be doing. All too often, we give attention, extra effort, and resources to people doing wrong. I’m sure you’ve seen examples of children who continuously act out because they feel that’s they only way a person will pay any attention to them, or a “good” child who is jealous of the parental attention doted on his/her lesser performing siblings.

A person who is doing what they should should not expect praise. However, comments like “how sweet” adds a little motivation and purpose for the positive things that the person is doing, and it cost nothing.

Secondly, I think that society reacts with shock and awe when a man raises his child alone because society teaches us that it is not supposed to happen. The gender equality movement of years ago was not a movement of both genders. Yes, women can do anything a man can do, however the reverse does not hold true. A boy is not raised to feel, express his emotions, or be nurturing individuals. In fact if emotion and character traits were a pie chart men can acceptably express or display a little more than half of them. If he is a feeling and expressive being, his manhood is instantly questioned or challenged.

Raising a child (I assume because I have not done it) requires a sense of selflessness and nurturing that society teaches men should not display. So when we see men raising children or even being loving in some cases, it goes against our understanding, hence the shock.
toya said…
You know what, though? If we should praise dudes who are raising their children alone, then we should praise the women, equally. And that doesn't happen. When a woman is a single mother, it's as if folks look at her as if she's automatically done something wrong - why does she have kids and why is she by herself? But we don't look at single fathers the same way. It's all, "Poor man! Look how he's raising those kids all alone! Isn't he awesome?"

Double standards suck.
Tonyette said…
I completely agree! Double standards DO suck!! One of the guys I referred to in the original posting, he is the boyfriend of a good friend of mine. When she was telling me about him, she said "and he's a single father!" But like, I'm sure that no guy would be telling his friend, "and she's a single mother!" as if it were a selling point! Again I say, double standards DO suck!
PhillyPhile said…
I do think we should praise single parents, or any good parent for that matter. However, I think we get overly excited about single fathers because that is something unexpected and not taught, as I mentioned before.

In fact, this Sunday was watching “To the Contrary” a PBS roundtable talk show where women speak about news events from their perspective. Well one of the things that came up was that all parents are spending more time with their kids than 40 years ago, however mothers still spend a disproportionately greater amount of time with kids, regardless if they are working mothers or not.

First, the panel started joking about how men are coming a long way but are slow learners. Then one woman seriously said that we raise our girls to want manly men and our boys to be manly men, which by most standards is in stark contract to being a caregiver.
Anonymous said…
I agree that positive reinforcement is needed for good behavior/a good job/ people doing what they should... but definitely the person should not expect it.

I'm a single mom of a little boy (his father is involved, but not in the home)and I hope that I'm teaching him to be compassionate, caring, thoughtful and articulate as well as teaching him the role of a man (from a woman's perspective, because I'm not a man of course.) I definitely have issues with how society is teaching our young, black men what's expected of them in our culture and that includes, and is not limited to how they express themselves verbally and 'get by' on all accounts.

I'm in a situation where a dude I know (my sister's friend) is trifling! When he does something standard, he expects people to take notice. I don't, because I know it's what he SHOULD be doing. Because I think this way, I'm looked at as a B. If you know better, do better! Expect more from yourself and stop trying to 'get by.' It gets old, real quick. I'm hoping that my son gets this message and implements it in his life.

Great motherfriggin topic! This has been on my mind for some time as I've been dealing with this situation on a daily basis.

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