It is 2015. There is a faint but very real shift in the parenting paradigm, especially within the black community. More and more men are taking up the role of being the primary care givers of their children. As a result, more and more women find themselves with the seemingly daunting prospect of being in a relationship with a ‘single father’.
I put the term ‘single father’ inside quotation marks because the concept of single parenting is not as clean-cut as we often think. A parent can be single in the sense that they are not in any kind of romantic relationship with the child’s other parent, but the other parent can be very present in the shared child’s life. But for the purpose of brevity and hashtags, we will stick to Single Father.
Now, there are many myths and misconceptions about single fathers, as an entity and as a romantic partner. These commonly stem from the fact there seem to be so few of them out in the wild. But, speaking from experience, as said father, with a number of failed attempts in hand, I can assure you that it is far less dramatic than pop culture will have you believe. I say this because the fundamental difference, between a guy who stays with his child compared to a guy who does not have a child or does not live with the child, is how he prioritises or structures his life. I’ve had a few conversations on this subject and based on those, I would like to clear some points. By the way, this is not a ‘How To’ list, you’re not trying to assemble a coffee table from Makro, it is more about what to anticipate within the relationship. Neither is this expert advice. Consult your BFF should you experience any discomfort. Let’s get into it;
This seems to be one of the things that freak many women out straight out the gate. The idea of feeling compelled to become a step-mother of sorts to a child you’ve never met. This one is quite easy. No guy will expect this of any woman that he just met. You can breathe now. On the contrary, most fathers have their romantic life very separate from their family life. Also, in all likelihood, the kid has a mother. More on that in a bit.
The reason this is an easy fear to get over is that any matured guy knows that they can’t just chuck a woman into mothering like an outside soccer ball being tossed back into the pitch. Being a parent himself, he knows what a life-changing ask it would be for anyone. The odds are, he is looking for a relationship like any ‘normal’ guy without any long-term or binding commitments…yet.
When I said that fathers have different priorities than other guys, time is the most important. This one is important because the thing about children is that they thrive within a routine. Set schedules help them develop trust, belonging and a sense of self. Some guys will have nannies or cousins or whatever. But, even with that, he will most definitely spend a lot of time at home. He is less likely to be very spontaneous, especially mid-week (or school nights) and weekends away won’t be decided at the drop of a hashtag.
But, what most guys in this situation will have mastered, is the art of presence. He knows that time is limited to basically everything that needs his attention. So, when he decides to spend time with a person, he is very fully present. He has learnt to dedicate himself to a situation and gives his undivided attention. So, that weekend away is actually most likely to happen with him because that time spent away from everything else is really important to him.
Besides physical spent together, you must also pace your relationship properly. Let him lead you into the different stages and spheres. If you do feel that the pace bothers you, talk about it. Bear in mind that you and he don’t exist in a bubble and he constantly navigates different relationships and scenarios in order to be there fully, for you.
Ok, I’m being melodramatic with that header. But, hooking up with a guy who stays with his child is slightly trickier. For instance, your overnight bag, let it chill a bit. You will not be spending days on end at his place because you’re lazy to go to your place and its winter. This is because his place is not a ‘crib’ as such. It is at home. I know this may seem very alienating and even offensive but consider this, would you want him to take you to meet his mom on the first weekend? If a guy takes you regularly to his home where his child lives, he is basically letting you know that you’re here for the foreseeable future, like you’re getting your own pair of keys to the joint. This might not sit well with a woman who is still content with just kicking it. This also impacts heavily on the idea of moving in with a guy. This can be quite fun and romantic with a regular guy but moving in with a guy with a child basically means you guys are a family.
So how are you going to spend your nights of the butternut? It will vary, some guys get weekends off because of shared custody where the kid goes to the mother etc. Some guys have full-time nannies and can be out till the wee hours mid-week, but dude got to be back for the school drop off. So you can expect him to spend more time at your place than his. Maybe he will even make sure iright ifridge.
Mother of the Child
This is by far what seems to have many women on edge. Everyone has some story about someone they know who had crazy baby momma drama. Let me start by saying that this is on the same level of ignorant as Americans believing we ride elephants to work. Most often, there is this assumption that a woman having a child with a man and things do not work out between them then she’s automatically going to lose her damn mind. Ask your friend who has a child if she’s crazy.
Yes, the possibility of having to deal with an unreasonable mother of your boo’s child is very real. It happens, but it is not as common nor as dramatic as you might believe. First of all, it is very possible that you might never even meet her. Your man knows the women in his life. He will know how to handle his business and treat everyone involved in a way that keeps the peace. He will, hopefully, know how to draw firm boundaries and keep the different aspects of his life from crashing into each other.
What is important at this point is for you to state your own boundaries. You must also claim and protect your space. Be clear about the level of involvement you want to have. If you feel like you are being emotionally cornered into something that goes against your own principles, be very upfront. It’s very easy for things to get out of hand.
Speaking of things getting out of hand, ladies, if your man deliberately disrespects and insults the mother of his child in your presence or to you in private, you have a big problem on your hands. Regardless of the relationship that the two of them have, it will never, ever warrant him speaking foul about her to you. As intimate partners, we will always share the challenges we face in terms of the different aspects of our lives, but a man insulting the mother of his child is a reflection of his relationship with women in general. He will talk smack about you too, should things go south. Yes, some baby mommas are damn straight crazy and they will do very bizarre and at times hurtful things, however, your dude should have the maturity to separate his emotions and not join her because there is such a thing as a crazy baby daddy. Obviously, he might not get it right all the time, but being his person, you will learn when he is trying his best or when he’s just being an ass.
When we go online and see insta pics of black guys with their children, (usually American, for some odd reason) women always comment about how cute it looks and that’s what they want. What is important to realise is that a guy who is a good father does not automatically translate into a guy who is a good boyfriend. The two are distinctly different.
We all have challenges, whether we have kids or not. Many people are not adulting as they thought they would. A guy with a child just has more visible challenges, but it goes without saying, a relationship of this kind requires a certain level of maturity, which suits some women just fine.