A few weeks back I had dinner with an old flame named Tiffany. She and I went out for a few months but life got hectic for both of us and we wound up traveling down separate romantic paths. Call it bad timing. Despite our failed courtship, we still maintain a solid friendship and have an overall good rapport.
After months of canceled plans, Tiffany and I finally got a chance to catch up face-to-face. We wound up having a real grown folks kind of conversation. In addition to the typical fodder about work, family and current events, we got into some real heavy dialogue as well.
At some point in the conversation I revealed one of my greatest fears—not being a good father to my child/children. It’s not that I see myself as the type of dude to shun his responsibilities or not being a good role model, but in case you haven’t noticed by the amount of effort I put into this blog I’m an admitted workaholic. I’m an imperfect perfectionist who recognizes his own imperfections.
With that said, I’ve always worried that my diehard dedication to my craft(s) would somehow make me an emotionally distant father. You know, someone that’s there physically in the home but mentally off somewhere else thinking of a blog topic or whatever career-related distraction that’d take my focus away from my offspring.
“You know what,” Tiffany responded. “I think you’ll be a great father. Not only are you a good guy, but you’re aware of it so I don’t see you letting that happen… I’m more worried about your wife.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I have a feeling your wife is the one that might eventually get neglected.”
Tiffany’s words traveled from him lips, across the table, into my ears and sunk into the depths of my soul.
Will I be a bad husband?
With all these years spent worrying about ignoring my future offspring, I’ve never given much thought to doing the same to my future wife and mother of my children. I never thought about being a bad husband.
Damn, I’ve been ignoring her already.
My fears about failed parenthood—at least emotionally—stem from my lack of a real relationship with my father. There’s no need to rehash what I’ve already written HERE, HERE and HERE about my father, but let’s just say he’s the cause of much of my emotional baggage and has been my inspiration to be a better man by being nothing like him.
Back in September, fellow blogger Belle wrote a post called “Fatherless Men,” where she referenced an article written by a woman that pondered why more women of color didn’t query their potential husbands about whether or not they grew up with a stable male father figure in their life.
Belle agreed with certain points of the article and even admitted that she used to have a “rule” about only dating men that came from two-parent homes. Over time, she adjusted her outlook on male suitors to a case-by-case basis but said, “I won’t date any guy—absentee father or not— who didn’t have a male role model or idolizes a shitty one.”
Despite being the product of a single parent household, I did have a grandfather that was very influential male figure in my life. I’m eternally grateful for him showing me the ropes of manhood, but, unfortunately, those lessons only span the first 10 years of my life before he passed away. My grandfather may have taught me right from wrong and basic manners, but I was ultimately left on my own when it comes to matters of fatherhood and being a husband.
Perhaps the author of the post Belle referenced was right in her claim that men who are raised without a male role model are at a disadvantage.
Until my conversation with Tiffany I’ve never really given it much thought because growing up single mothers were not the exception but the norm. To be completely honest, I’m usually surprised more than anything when I meet someone who has/had both parents in the home. I can probably count on my fingers how many people I know personally that had both parents around growing up.
It’s a sad, but, oh so true reality.
With that said, I never had anyone to show me how to be a good husband. Sure I know plenty of fathers and baby daddies, but not many husbands and real dads. Any man with a penis can be a father biologically, but it takes a lot more to be a dad in my book.
Although I have very few examples of successful marriages in my life, I still aspire to find a woman to call my wife and life partner. I believe in forever, ever, like Andre 3000. I believe that I will one day try my best to be a good father and I hope and pray that I succeed at being a good husband as well.
Do you believe that someone can be a good husband or wife if they never witnessed a successful marriage growing up? Did you come from a two-parent household? How many of your friends actually grew up with both parents? How much impact do you think that plays on the outcome of your marriage? Is it worse having a father around that isn’t there emotionally or one that’s not there physically? Could you spend the rest of your life with someone that was a workaholic? How important do you feel it is for little boys to have good male role models? Do you still have faith that people still respect the sanctity of marriage? Do you think that you will be a good father/husband or mother/wife? Are you as afraid as I am at failing as a parent or marriage?
Speak your piece…