Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Parenting: Role or Responsibility?

   Let me start off quickly and put forth that I think it’s a responsibility, not a role. There is truth in the saying that anyone can make a child, but it takes a parent to raise one. Just to be clear from the beginning, I’m certainly not saying that parents have to be linked to children through biology…I’m simply saying that the process of raising a child is what makes you a parent. 

   The counter argument is that anyone that has a child, or was part of the biological process, is a parent and technically that is correct, but I’m going deeper…and let me tell you why. This past Mother’s Day, a co-worker took a moment to wish me a Happy Mother’s Day. This was most unusual, since I’m a father. After pointing this out, he retorted that as a dad, he has had to play the role of both mother and father to his children at times. He further commented that all single dads and mothers play both roles. I can only suppose that since I’m the family cook, he must take it that I too play the mother role in some way.

   But hold on…is parenting a role or a responsibility?

   I gave this situation a great amount of thought as I’ve seen single women claim Father’s Day sighting the same reasoning as my co-worker. The idea that since there is no father present, the mother plays both roles.This sounds good except…I don’t buy it.

   Let’s start with the meaning of both mother and father as seen in the dictionary (Merriam-Webster):

1 a :  a female parent

   b (1) :  a woman in authority; specifically :  the superior of a religious community of women (2) :  an old or elderly woman

3 : maternal tenderness or affection

   So clearly the term is reserved for a certain gender, indeed based and focused specifically for those able to bare children. 

: a male parent
: a man who is thought of as being like a father
: a person who was in someone's family in past times

1 a :  a man who has begotten a child; 
   So again, gender specific and nothing indicative of any “role” one plays other than being of a certain gender and having children. So where is all this claiming of days coming from when we celebrate the mothers and fathers of the world?

   Now I haven’t done a scientific study here, just used the good common sense given to me, and it seems that people are still clinging to old stereotypes pertaining to parental roles. The women stay home to cook and clean, while the men go to work and support the family.

   The problem with that is that it’s now 2014, and many two parent families need to have both parents working. Women earn just like men do, and men take care of the house if that’s what’s needed to take care of the family. The idea of a “role” is a fallacious one, replaced by parents, single or married, doing whatever is needed to raise their children (and thus, earning in my book, the title of “parent”).

   I don’t get a “Happy Mother’s day”…I’m not a mother. A mother doesn’t get a “Happy Father’s Day”…she’s not a father. Any single parent is either a single mother or father, raising their child, absolved of any outdated stereotypical role that is no longer reflective of reality.

   The only real role of a parent, is taking responsibility...and raising your child.


  1. Thanks for such an honest post! Nothing in this life is one-sided. We need both to create balance. Focusing only on the good is living in lala-land. Focusing solely on the bad is living in a life of misery. I'm sure you understand what am I talking about.