The Role of Fatherhood and Parenting
Society unfortunately attaches a negative stigma to divorced fathers who are viewed with skepticism and pity.
The poor portrayal of fatherhood in the media only adds to this perception, according to a survey by the National Fatherhood Initiative. The survey reveals even the mothers agree; more than half of moms say that the media portrays fathers in a negative light.
The same survey found that only 20 percent of mothers not living with the father of their children are satisfied with dad’s performance and that two-thirds of mothers think biological fathers are replaceable either by mom or other men.
This attack on fatherhood overshadows the good role models. The new form of fatherhood identity that faces divorced dads creates a lot of anxiety in their new role in life, according to RJ Jaramillo, founder of SingleDad.com. Jaramillo’s website is dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single father with children.
“I have noticed a growing number of dads who say that they are getting lost with their identities and roles in their household environment,” he said. “Whether an issue of parenting, fatherhood, or just manhood subjects, we are experiencing a problem today in identifying with these gender roles.”
The general question that comes to most divorced men is, “Who am I now?” meaning the new role and lifestyle as a newly divorced dad.
Compounding this transformation of the “who am I now” personality is the everyday stress and pressure of balancing a new parenting schedule and financial commitments (alimony, child support, etc.) with life and work.
“This daily pressure makes it easy for a man to compromise who he is and what he is feeling,” Jaramillo said. “The ‘who am I now?’ is the new fatherhood personality that a man has adopted because his survival skills have kicked in to protect his fragile environment. His manhood and fatherhood has turned transparent to the pressures of his economic environment.”
He suggests the only alternative in this environment is to keep the peace to avoid more time, energy and money invested in another lengthy family court proceeding.
“There is no room for error or being outspoken with unhappiness in the life of a single parent,” he said. “No time to think and no time to identify feelings at this stage of our manhood, fatherhood, and parenthood. Staying quiet and moving forward is better than losing a job and causing conflict in the co-parenting relationship.”
The National Fatherhood Initiative survey reinforces what fathers, particularly divorced ones, have to deal with in today’s parenting environment. Despite the challenges, Jaramillo is optimistic about the state of fatherhood and parenthood.
“Whether you are married, re-married, widowed, newly divorced or a single father with children, we all have a common goal in life: To be the best dad we can be and to being proud of the legacy we create every day of our lives,” Jaramillo said. “Fatherhood is as much about growing yourself as a person as it is helping your child coming into the world. The more involved you are, the better for your child and yourself.”