Friday, 19 September 2014

Stereotyping

Since I started home schooling my son William I have come across the same stereotyping that I have experienced a lot.

Being active in my children's lives I will always take an interest in their well being and in doing so  I will seek as much support as possible to build a better relationship with them and hopefully help mould and grow them into fine men. So since starting home educating I joined many forums and groups with people who do the same. But what I have found saddens and angers me at the same time. 

All you see on these sites is mums bad mouthing dads with comments like: "sometimes the biggest battle I've had is with their dad who thinks im crazy for doing this" or "im a single mum doesn't want  anything to do with the kids or their education. 


I've heard these comments before. As a teacher i heard comments like "you can never fully have the potential to be a good teacher because you don't have a maternal instinct like us mum teachers"

As a single dad I hear friends speak of their ex partners like: "All you have to do is have your kids one weekend a fortnight and you can't even do that, sort your priorities out"

As a single man ive heard women say to me "you have your children half the week? Why aren't you like normal single dads who see their kids once a fortnight? " or "we'll never get any together time you see and have your kids too much"

These comments all upset me. I go on these forums because i want the best for my children so i look for ideas and support but seeing negative comments is heartbreaking and puts a block up for dads as they don't want to be tarred with the same brush. 
On playgrounds I had mums giving me weary looks whispering about me. Why? Because i am a single dad i must be horrible, must be the standard father who doesn't care. This is just a typical stereotype.

For me there is no such thing as seeing your kids too much or having an interest in them. They are me, part of me  and my life of course i care. When speaking to single mums it deeply saddens me to hear that your ex doesn't do anything for your kids, but that doesn't mean I'm the same.

The problem is you see programmes like Jeremy Kyle and the types of dads on their. It is real life and sadly many men don't support their families.  But I don't see them as men, a man does whatever he can. Like in my last post a different perspective,  you should not judge or cast doubts upon people due to your expectations. I find it admirable that despite health issues that I work, i work for my children,  despite my health issues we have fun, do new things,  try new things, despite other things I see my kids, take part in their lives and want to support them. These are admirable points. Not because I'm measuring myself against low, non caring dads but because I am doing my best, despite everything ans i seek to do better. I'm far from the best dad but i try. 

Now a days it is far easier to fall in to a category that is expected of you than it is to stand apart.  Isolation is scary. But falling to a category is like failing to see your potential.  I'm proud to be stand apart from the 'normal' single dad image. I also know that there are thousands upon thousands of dads who do the same as me. But as a society we miss it, they are stand alone so they easily disappear within a crowd. Unless it's something dramatic like the 'stunts' produced by groups like fathers for justice.  

My only plea is this:

Stop judging, stop bringing negativity to situations because of past experiences, look beyond a stereotype because you will find something unique or different.  I'm aware that mums will read this and will have their reasons for not agreeing with me. That this might sound like negativity towards women or single mums, but its not, its an opening up for a man trying to be seen within a stereotypical situation


Being a dad is hard, being a man is hard, it hard being both, as it is for women and mums. But i truly believe that to be a man you have to be willing to stand alone in a situation and be comfortable because you know its the right thing. For me, being a dad is impossible until you can be a real, honest, man. I break stereotypes, I'm proud to be a dad, there's no such thing as to much time with your kids.

I want to finish with 3 quotes.

He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. ~Clarence Budington Kelland


A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty. ~Author Unknown

Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad. ~Author Unknown

Stop your stereotyping,  see beyond,  give a man a chance to choose his category rather than forcing him into one.

4 comments:

Ashley Beolens said...

Great post, and great to see you fighting the good fight and altering people stereotypical views on single dads or just dads in general.

We need the media to wake up and start showing good role models, the more children see the more they copy.

Martyn - Being Free said...

Couldn't agree more. If good dad's were shown, regularly, then you have more chance of seeing more sons growing up by a leading example. Rather than just assuming that a good Dad is a rare one.

And thank you. I'd always be happy breaking stereotypes and standing alone, if needs be, to prove that I'm a good dad and that there are good dads out there. As yourself and other dad's on the dad network have shown.

Single Mother Ahoy said...

Great post.
I think generally, society has different expectations of mothers and fathers. I did a post about it a while back. Quite often mothers are judged on all sorts of levels, and often found falling short if we get drunk every now and then or give our kids chips for tea. On the other hand, fathers often just have to turn up to get a cooing round of "ahh, what a great dad!"
This does nobody any favours. Fathers should be held to the same standards as mothers, and all should want to take an active role in their kids' lives as you do.
When I met my ex, he had 6 children living with him; everyone said what a great father he was to have them live with him when their mother had disappeared. I soon discovered that while everyone thought he was a good father for keeping them with him, he was actually physically and emotionally abusing them on a daily basis. If that had been a mother on her own, people would have been poking their noses in and something might have been done - but because he was a single father, everyone was just impressed he managed to get them dressed and none had any broken bones.
We should all have to prove we're good parents - being a mother doesn't mean I would be a better teacher than you; it's about individual qualities, not gender.
Also, I think the fact you have a blog and write about these things goes some way to proving you must be a good dad - if you didn't care, you wouldn't bother writing about it!

Martyn - Inside Martyn's Thoughts said...

Thanks for your comment. It's interesting to read that. I have only seen some stereotyping of women in the instances you have described. But either way the fact is true that people do stereotype people onto expected groups. Often when in truth they were just doing what we all do.
I have never had the cooing father routine. I have one friend who compliments me but apart from her I have only ever been tarred with the above stereotypes. I wonder if it's individual to your character then? I often have people poking their noses in to what I do and hardly ever praised. It's a shame then that your ex was like that. I do know some single dad's who are rewarded for their fathering but they're also what I would class as charming people in public. Ones who can win people over.
Thank you. This is one reason why I blog, apart from having online documents, I like to show my good and bad points as it's great to get help, support and gratitude despite, like most parents,how tough it is. But you're right I do care and that's why I write. Thanks again for commenting!