A mother can never replace the role of a father

by singlemomseeking on June 19, 2009

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I’m so honored to have author Terri MacLeod as a guest blogger today.

Terri is a single mom who’s raising her 14-year old daughter, Brittany, in NYC (pictured above).

Terri and Brittany co-wrote the recently published girl-power guide, 113 Things To Do By 13 (remember my book giveaway?) Terri is also a producer at the top-rated NBC entertainment program Access Hollywood.

Please welcome her:

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Father’s Day is a tough day in our house. It’s not that my daughter and I don’t love silly ties, homemade cards, and showering loved with ones with lots of hugs.

Unfortunately my ex hasn’t been around for a big part of her 14 years. So, my daughter has never really gotten to be Daddy’s little girl on his special day.

I divorced my ex to get out of an abusive relationship. But in a way, the abuse continued.

For the majority of Brittany’s life, her father has been out of the picture. For the first six years after our divorce, Brittany’s father abandoned nearly all responsibility to his daughter. Yes, I can go on and on about how tough it is to be a single mom, but the real victim is my daughter, who has basically grown-up without the love and support of a father.

When I was asked to blog about my experience as a single mom, at first I thought what a great way to strike back and get some sweet revenge. But then, on second thought I don’t want to be a victim or a man-basher.  I am proud to say I have raised a strong daughter with a surprisingly positive attitude towards life and men.

What I really want divorced dads to remember is that a mother – no matter how present or loving – can never replace the role of a father. There’s no question father and daughter relationships are special.

A father is a girl’s first look at what it means to be a man. It’s her first glimpse at how men should treat women. Plus, a strong bond with your father helps young girls develop healthy self-esteem and lets them know their voice is of value in the world. A father – divorced or not – needs to cherish his role and realize his actions have a major impact on his daughter’s future relationships and achievements.

On Father’s day, I hope that dads everywhere relish those awesome kisses and gifts only a child can give, but also realize Daddy’s little girl doesn’t stay young forever! There’s no way to ever go back in time and make-up for years spent apart.

My daughter is a blessing, and my ex will never experience the simple joy of watching her grow-up nor have any special memories of her childhood. No parent is perfect and we all make mistakes on this great sometimes-mysterious parenthood journey, but as they say “practice makes perfect.”

And, the more you “practice” good parenting  — the better Dad you will be!
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So, Moms and Dads, let’s hear how you’re going to be spending Father’s Day.

(I’m making a Mexican fiesta for my Dad in our new home — with lots of salsa, guacamole, and a rockin’ nine-year-old hostess!)

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To learn more about Terri and Brittany, or to buy their amazing book, 113 Things To Do By 13, above, be sure to visit their site, 113 by 13.


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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Crazy Computer Dad June 19, 2009 at 3:59 am

And no father can replace the role of a mother and mother-son relationships can be just as special. Over the past 8 years I’ve watched my son in many ways try to win or buy the love of his mother. She is just too self-centered. She has been better the last couple of years, but it still comes through. I keep telling her that nothing replaces her time with him. He also cherishes ANYTHING she gives him. She is learning though, and my son is much better for it.

Crazy Computer Dad´s last blog post…Summer….

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MommaSunshine June 19, 2009 at 4:34 am

I’m so grateful that my daughters have a terrific, and very involved Dad. Even though he and I are not together, he is still my parenting partner, and I’m glad that it’s him and no one else.

This year for Father’s Day he’ll be getting homemade cards from his little girls, as well as a framed photo of them. The three of them will be spending a lovely day together as well….

MommaSunshine´s last blog post…Priorities

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Lovebabz June 19, 2009 at 5:24 am

I think Father is whatever man steps up to the plate and provides parental guidance. There are Uncles and grandpas and friends who are better Fathers that some Fathers. Let’s not get crazy about Fathers in a way that lumps them all into some sentimental group. Some men aren’t good father’s…they are dangerous and abusive and should not have access to their kids.

Men who miss out on being present in their children’s lives are indeed missing out. Sometimes you can shame them back into reality and sometimes not. I do know that Mother’s can build a community of folks that help in the absence of a father. It is not about replacing the father, it is about ensuring that your child has examples and experiences of men who care about their well-being.

But I know we are talking about Father’s who are absent. So in their absence someone else has to stand in that gap and often that is a mother.

My Kids are going to spend Saturday with their Dad. And on Sunday He will drop by to receive their gifts.

Lovebabz´s last blog post…I WANT TO BE LOVED…GLADYS KNIGHT & JAMIE FOXX

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Amy Sue Nathan June 19, 2009 at 5:46 am

I’m raising kids without a dad. As much as possible I try to focus on what they have, not on what they don’t have – although their loss was monumental – it has become integrated into their lives. They never get used to it, but it does get easier.

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Kat Wilder June 19, 2009 at 6:25 am

“Yes, I can go on and on about how tough it is to be a single mom, but the real victim is my daughter, who has basically grown-up without the love and support of a father.”

I appreciate Terri’s comments, as I believe a dad is very important in a child’s life; I wonder if she’s addressing this to the growing number of choice moms, too (or lesbian moms, for that matter) for whom there is no dad involved.

Kat Wilder´s last blog post…Hookups aren’t the only trip ups on the way to love

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Eathan June 19, 2009 at 7:15 am

This is very well said. I’m glad you didn’t go with the man bashing angle.

Father’s relationships are very important. I feel blessed to have such a great relationship with my boys. Of course father’s day will consist of us waking up and watching cartoons while eating cereal. Followed up by an afternoon at the gym playing basketball. And then we’ll finish it off with an evening of video games. Sounds exciting? lol

Eathan´s last blog post…I’m Not Dating Any Longer

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MindyMom June 19, 2009 at 7:24 am

Beautiful post. It should be every man’s mandatory reading upon the birth of his child.

MindyMom´s last blog post…Flashback Friday #5: Life’s Little Joys

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Alicia June 19, 2009 at 8:54 am

Thanks for wondering about us Choice Moms, Kat Wilder! I have to admit, the title of this post caught my attention, and immediately that old, familiar anxiety started creeping in – anxiety about raising a son without a father.

BUT, after reading Terri’s post, I think there is a very real difference in situations here.

Terri, I’m sure, raised her daughter with the knowledge that she has a father out there, she knows who he is, they have met, and it just so happened that he was absent during most of her childhood. And so his absensce was noticeable and painful to her daughter.

Choice Moms raise up their children with no knowledge of having a father. (A donor, yes. But a father – no.) So, there is never this issue of abandonment or shame or pain… We say, our family doesn’t have a father – some families have no mother, some have no father, some are just grandparents – but they are families nonetheless and there is love there.

As to whether a mother could ever replace the role of a father, I’m on the opinion that parenting is about quality and not quantity. 2 parents aren’t necessarily better than 1 – but as long as the quality of the love and parent-child relationship is there, the child will be just fine.

Alicia´s last blog post…Tooting My Own Horn

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judy June 19, 2009 at 9:50 am

Lot’s of issues here:
Here are my opinions on a few:

Every one has a mom and dad even in choice parenting…that’s just biology 101…and I believe to tell a kid they don’t have a dad, only a donor, is doing damage to the kid as well as negating the parental responsibility

I don’t believe moms can replace dads and vice versa. This is not about quality parenting, which I do well solo, but about something different which I do not have the words for right now..estrogen… male energy…male/female bonds. I’ll have to think on this one to describe it better but it is not about parenting.

So on Father’s day my DD is away on a leadership program and probably does not even know it is father’s day unless someone there mentions it. I will call my dad and we will have a surface, meaningless conversation about how my car is running and the weather. My ex will try to call my DD to remind her it is father’s day but won’t be able to reach her which is perfect since in 15 years she has received 1 Christmas and 2 birthday gifts equally the cost of a carton of cigarettes which he consumes regularly

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Kim June 19, 2009 at 10:14 am

I think this is a great post. Let’s remember that Terri was asked to blog about *her experience* as a single Mom before implying it’s one sided!

But I happen to agree with Terri’s statements about what a father means to a daughter. I believe there are important contributions in every parent-child relationship, be it father-daughter, mother-daughter, mother-son, father-son. It doesn’t mean that a child cannot be parented well by a single or by a same-sex couple. But it does mean that a certain influence and perspective are missing in that child’s life.

Kim´s last blog post…More

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Amanda June 19, 2009 at 11:45 am

I also left an abusive marriage to raise my daughters on my own. Their father is out of the picture by his choice. I honestly am thankful that he made that choice as I did not feel I made the right choice in picking a father.
My daughters are happy overall and well adjusted. We have a lot of support in our lives but most of their influences are female.
Every year I try to make father’s day fun and try not to even mention that it is father’s day but every year by the end of the night they are in tears. By the next day things are back to normal and they carry on.
Now matter how great of a mother I am I can never fully mend the loss they feel by their father’s choice.

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singlemomseeking June 19, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I’m curious: Do others agree with LoveBabz on this one? (I do.)

“I think Father is whatever man steps up to the plate and provides parental guidance. There are uncles and grandpas and friends who are better fathers that some fathers.”

~~~
Yes, Kat, thanks for bringing up Choice Moms — and to Alicia, thank you SO much for chiming in!

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Katherine SOLOdotmom June 19, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I also agree with LoveBabz about others stepping up to the plate and providing good role models as men in your children’s lives.

My kids do see their father, but sometimes I am concerned about his influence because of choices he makes (and yet he is their father, so I do not wish to take that time away from him). But for that reason, I seek to have other male role models in their lives… so they can have good male influences as well.

Great post…
Thanks for sharing.

Katherine SOLOdotmom´s last blog post…The Day My World Stood Still

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SDMktg June 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

I agree with Terri that the father daughter relationship is very special and with others who have noted that the father son relationship is also special. I’m fortunate enough to have both. My sister, brother, and I all missed out on having a solid relationship with our dad and it affected each of us. Now we are all committed to being as present as possible for our children.

As I enjoy father’s day with my twins this year I will be very thankful for everything my mom did for us but even after almost 30 years I still can’t spend more than 5 minutes in the Father’s Day section of Hallmark without getting a little upset about what I will never have with my father. I have had many men in my life who were better fathers but no one else can ever fill that hole. All I can do is make sure my own kids never feel this way about me.

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Anna June 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm

I agree with Lovebabz. I left my marriage partly because my husband could not have a healthy relationship with his son.

We will spend part of father’s day with my cousin and his family, and part of it with our babysitter who has been such a support this year (part of that community I’ve built). Then we go see my parents, and my father is the most positive male role model my son has, and gets along with him famously.

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Janet June 19, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Completely agree with Lovebabz.

Janet´s last blog post…Not bad. Not bad at all.

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avigail74 June 19, 2009 at 7:14 pm

In a perfect world, a child would have both a loving mother and father. And, they would have a wonderful relationship where there is mutual respect for one another and share roles equally. Granted, there are a few children who get to experience that–realistically, most of us do not get to have that experience. Are we affected? Sure we are, but are we so damaged that we can’t enjoy life–most of us are not. Most of us can live loving and productive lives with normal challenges that come our way.

My mother always says that each of us have been dealt a card–mine is having a hearing loss (but it hasn’t stopped me from moving on up in the world) and my daughter’s is—you guessed it–having a very absent and inconsistent father whom she misses very much (but, it also hasn’t stopped her from being successful in school and making lots of friends). Really, all we can do it make the best of what we have.

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michael mclellan June 24, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Hi. I am an estranged father from my beautiful two little girls. The ten year marraige broke down as a result of long working hours trying to support my family! This led to short tempers, angry revolts, and eventually seperation. I am not a bad man nor is my wife a bad woman. however she has been and done a few silly things, and as a result, has stopped contact because she knows she will have to answer some difficult questions! due to the laws being the way they are, and dont dare tell me that things are equal in a court, I have now been fighting to even get information on thier wellbeing never mind see them! Its highly unfair and it surey must be hurting my girls!!But there isnt a power in the land that seems to care at all! I feel like am constantly skating uphill! So lets not be mean to all fathers out there who dont see thier kids, only the ones who dont want to!!!

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Shannon June 25, 2009 at 6:06 am

Beautiful post.
My daughter loves her Dad and I support that and always will. He loves her and does the best he knows how to do for her. He is a good provider and loves her. Just this week she is camping with him and his live in girlfriend and her three kids. It has taken us a long time, but I love that my daughter likes being with them. The bigger support group she has, the better it is for her later in life. And her father gave me the only child I will ever have. There is no greater gift I will ever be given.

Shannon´s last blog post…A Mover and A Shaker…

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Shannon May 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm

What about those fathers who do not get a chance? My husband is an excellent father to all of our children, but his ex took his oldest son and hid him from him for years. He hired private investigators and she would just disappear again. He sent letters that went un-answered. He finally found out that he went to prison and sent a letter to the prison. He refused to answer him. His ex had poisoned his mind. She even went as far as changing his name to her husbands name without my husbands permission. Then one day we got a horrible call. His son had died at the age of 23 and my husband never got a chance to know him. We knew his opinion of my husband must have been horrible because of what was said about him from his mother. Any woman who keeps their child from their fathers for selfish reasons should have their child ripped from their arms and hidden from them. If you have concerns, there are legal ways to protect your kids. But just because you don’t get along with their father does not mean that your child will not. Children are smart and should be allowed to have their own opinions about their parents…Not your hate filled opinion. Remember that it’s all about the child not you.

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singlemomseeking May 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm

@Shannon: Thanks for coming here and opening up about your painful story. And for reminding parents to think about their children first.

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