Without doubt, there are huge benefits for a child having a loving mother and father in their life. However, this also raises the question with single parents, that if two parents is ‘optimal.’ is one parent ‘enough’?
Primitive, instinctual Bonds
The bond between a mother and baby, even on a physiological level at, and just after, birth is well documented. Mothers are designed to nurture their babies, their body literally supporting a newborn to regulate their own temperature and heartbeat, as well as feed them individually tailored milk, made just for them. Many go on to argue that this mother-child bond is crucial to the continued development of a child.
But does that nurturing figure, have to be a mother?
Mother vs. father?
There is a tendency in society to see fathers as the more optional parent. It is expected that when relationships end, mothers care for the children, while dads pay the maintenance. There are undercurrents of belief that men in general lack the empathy, patience and basic parenting skills that women have.
In reality, these views are outdated. Women do not have a natural ability to love a child more, be better at changing a nappy, helping with homework, or to be patient or empathetic.
Yes, there are some things which a father cannot do. He cannot breastfeed his child. But we live in a world where many women do not breastfeed their children either. There are other ways to nourish, bond and encourage a child to thrive.
Evidence shows that for children to thrive, they need a secure primary attachment with a parent. But this does not have to be a woman. That parent, that bond and that attachment can be with a father figure.
Primarily, it isn’t WHO does it – it is HOW it is done.
Single parents, often come up for a tough time in society. This is pretty unfair, as it should go without saying, that raising a child or children alone is a difficult job and one which parents need support with, not judgement or criticism.
Single mums often feel labelled with an assumption that they have created their own situation through poor life or partner choices. Furthermore, if they are a working single mum, they are not giving their child enough time and attention. If they are a stay at home single mum, that they are scrounge and drain on society.
Single dads don’t appear to have the same kind of judgements and labels levied at them. But it can be difficult in other ways. By comparison, society just seems to forget they exist, that fathers can be and are, single parents too. They can often feel invisible, often with little resources or support.
If you are a single father and looking for more support, why not talk to other dads in the Dad Info Forum?