Welcome to men’s world. This is where some rights, privileges and honour that our culture, value system and gender disparity are bestowed on men. Feminism as a movement strives to challenge male dominance and imbalance in the social affairs by championing equal rights crusade. Patriarchy places hegemonic responsibility on the man to administer his family, community and indeed, the world around him. Ultimately, the man is the father, the provider of his family needs, the ruler of his environment and the protector of his people. Despite these masculine attributes, the man is still indeed of a woman to complement his being and assist in effectively discharging his roles.
If the woman is missing in the equation, he is prone to falter emotionally, stressed out physically, financially reckless and psychologically traumatized. Knowing full well that the man is stronger by nature, the woman, as a weaker partner, now becomes well protected by the rules, laws and ethics of the society.
That is why in case of rape or domestic violence allegations, whatever she says is believed to be the truth until otherwise proven. By this, women get away with a lot of atrocities. Western world is worse. Women are so protected that contrived mischief is easily admitted in law as true account in their favour. Going through divorce is hellish for the man. All these are so because the woman is believed to be vulnerable to male chauvinistic manipulations, abuse and gender prejudices. Unfortunately, too, some cynical women take the utmost advantage of this parochial legal framework to inflict pain, dissension and separation on their hapless men thereby creating an ever increasing pool of single dads in the society.
While we are more familiar with the phenomenon of single moms, the travails of single dads are no less excruciating compared to that of the single moms. The single dad lives lonely life, feels emotionally ostracized, and endures challenging domestic duties. He thinks and plans alone. He cares for the children and pays the bills without a helper.
He moves about with burden in his heart but smiles to everyone to cover up. He goes about with his pains and loneliness in his strides. He performs domestic chores like laundry, wash dishes and his car, clean the house, tender the children and cook for himself and the children. There are three major factors that often breed single parents: death, separation or divorce, and parenting out of wedlock. The society is more sympathetic towards single moms than single dads.
People easily offer help to mothers than fathers. It is common to support single moms but people still demand for help from single dads. What an irony! Many extended family members rarely task single moms for financial obligations except if they earn big or live overtly above average. Regardless of how the single dad manages to get by, extended family members will flock in to demand money from him. Some concerned family members do encourage their single dad relations to consider taking another shot at marital life, however, single moms are under intense pressure to “move on and start life again.”
In his book, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, Kenneth E. Hagin, of blessed memory, narrated the travails of a Pastor whose wife walked away from the marriage leaving behind her children including an infant. He recounted how this man of God would carry the infant on his lap and began to weep in the closet of his house because there was no mother or helper to cater for the children. Honestly, the life of a single dad is more traumatic and challenging than expressed.
In a similar account, a 55-year-old man who suddenly became a single dad found it very difficult to adapt to the reality of being a single dad with two children to cater for. He described the difficulties of coping with the challenges of parenting and trying to make a living as almost suicidal. Due to religious hallucination, his wife of 29 years left the marriage because she “believed angels spoke urging her to leave. My feelings on becoming a single dad were very much akin to bereavement followed by worry, panic, anxiety and bouts of severe melancholy. I realized that adapting to the situation was the only way out of my collapsed world.”
Women do talk and share, touch and empathize but not so with men. Unless it is in the pub, men rarely reveal their fallen emotion or feelings of deep pain. The thought of whether his employer would be sympathetic to his condition in cases of emergencies, trips where a par-ent should ideally accompany the child, or sickness beyond the usual light cough and cold or when the school has to call and say, ‘Your child has a high temperature and is feeling unwell, can you come and collect him…’ will his employer demonstrate understanding or sack him? In other words, “my anxiety is, do I neglect my children to put work first? However, for the sake of children, single dads must encourage themselves and brace up for the challenges,” he said.
In our society, some dads often stay single for a longer period of time until the children are grown up enough to take care of themselves. During this period, the man keeps out of social life and possibly not having a stable love life. All these sacrifices are for the protection, growth and character-moulding of the children. Men dislike maltreatments some stepmoms mete out to their step-children especially in their absence. Men hardly find helpers or empathisers in this condition. They go about with bottled-up sexual urges, emotional cravings and burdened mind.
A man wakes up at 4a.m. to do house chores, care for his children, takes them to school as he heads for work. Balls of tears begin to roll down his cheeks in despair, loneliness and helplessness. The society and womenfolk should support single dads with care, love, attention and compassion. Like single moms that go about smiling but heavy hearted, single dads also are heavy burden bearers.
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