A Father's Day Musing: Can Single Moms Do It Right?

How important are dads? Or moms? Do we need both genders in the home?

When my son was born, people often commented on how I’d “find a man” to complete the household someday. :rolleyes: I rejected that on a lot of fronts. It’s like saying widowers can’t be fantastic parents, or that same-sex couples shouldn’t be raising children, or that foster or adoptive parents can’t be single.

I think kids need mature and loving adults, period.

My son has made me a Father’s Day card every year since he was three. (He thought it wasn’t fair I didn’t get a card.) He’s planning something for me tomorrow morning. (I bet it’s toast and coffee.)

A little while ago I realized I’d been so busy with fulltime work that I haven’t been playing with my son as much. I was tired…and I was teaching summer school…and where did I put that baseball glove? In a sudden panic, I consulted my son on what’s a mom to do. So we came up with the Summer of Awesome, in which he decided that there are certain things every boy must do (or be taught to do) in the summer. We put these things on the Summer of Awesome calendar. Some examples:

[li]Build a rocket. [/li][li]Play basketball. (He’s horrible at it…glad he’s got the smart thing going for him.)[/li][li]Swim. A lot. As much as you can. (Made it without floaties by Day 3! What a fish!)[/li][li]Find a place that will let him be in a go-kart.[/li][li]Ride a bike without training wheels.[/li][li]Go to an amusement park.[/li][li]Play baseball.[/li][li]Learn how to box. (Not sure where that came from, but I signed him up for camp.)[/li][li]Hit up the science museum again, because there is NO SUCH THING as TOO MUCH DINO.[/li][/ul]

He also told me that all good dads buy their kids Beyblades and Legos. :wink:

The ‘mom’ in me had a running list that went something like:

[li]Put the toilet seat down.[/li][li]Help carry groceries.[/li][li]Have good manners. (Yes ma’am and sir and such, because that’s how I grew up.)[/li][li]Open the door for people.[/li][li]Give to charity.[/li][li]Get good grades.[/li][/ul]

and such.

So Dopers, what do I add to the “Things All Dads Need to Teach Their Sons” list? He’s seven, so not old enough to shave or anything yet. I have the world’s sweetest kid and I don’t want to f it up.

Also, Happy Father’s Day to the awesome Doper dads, uncles, big brothers, grandparents and all-around awesome dudes. :slight_smile:

I’m sure there are some things that some dads can do for some sons better than some mothers can.

I’m equally sure there is no magic list of these things that cover all, or even most, cases.

And, since I grew up in an angry dysfunction household with parents who should have divorced but never did, I’m reasonably sure that a one-parent household with one loving attentive parent is better than a two-parent household when the parents hate each others guts.

I guess you didn’t get the memo but as a woman, you don’t get to be a father on fathers day.

Oh yeah, your list…

My dad:
1 wouldn’t let me go near fireworks or rockets – thought they were too dangerous.

2 never taught me anything about American sports, he thought I should learn hurling, a kind of mass assault with heavy clubs on a soccer field. :stuck_out_tongue:

3 couldn’t swim, and living in Illinois saw no reason I should know either.

4 did indeed take me to a go-cart track on occasion, but never once in his life ever let me drive his car (obviously, he didn’t teach me how to drive).

5 did indeed teach me how to ride a bike.

6 never took me to an amusement park, but did take me to a few small local carnivals.

7 baseball? See answer 2.

8 boxing? Told me I was better off learning to run so I could outrun people who want to hit me.

9 I think he took me once to the Museum of Science and Industry, because HE wanted to see the U-boat. All other trips were done as part of school field trips.

Honestly, I think you are focused too closely on the idea that being a son is so different than a daughter. Maybe a daughter would choose a slightly different list of hobbies, sports or activities, or maybe not. I don’t see anything on that list that a father can necessarily do any better than a mother. Except maybe throwing a baseball, but maybe that too is a prejudice of my own generation, because I’ve never met a girl or woman my own age (I’m in my 50s now) who didn’t “throw like a girl”. But I’ve certainly seen it on TV since.

These are good points. My son came up with a list of things that he thought he should know or that he was interested in. I think he’s just at that sensitive age where he’s realizing how ‘different’ his life is from his friends. They do ‘dad like’ things with their dads. Also, when we bought Father’s Day cards for the important men in our lives, he said that the only ‘dad’ he needed was me. It was super sweet…and then I got to thinking, Oh crap, I’m doing it wrong!

Agreed. But the parents of one of our daughter’s friends have worked out an arrangement. Her biological Mom gets Mother’s Day, her step-mom gets Father’s Day (renamed in that house “Other Mother’s Day”).
Which makes sense, as they can be living stereotypes on occasion, and Rene is much more “butch” than Tracey.

If he’s safe and healthy and his needs are met you’re not doing it wrong.

His list is good for a summer, and he should have a different list next summer.

All children should learn to cook some basics and do laundry.

Enjoy your coffee and toast.

More things a dad-surrogate should do:

Take him fishing. Teach him how to tie a hook on a line, bait a hook, work a lure, clean a fish.

Fix things. Fix a leaky faucet, a squeaky hinge, a broken lightswitch.

Go camping. Teach him to pitch a tent, cook on a fire, pack a backpack.

Build things. Teach him how to use a saw, a drill, a hammer to make things out of wood. Build a bird house, or a paper towel dispenser, or a step-stool.

Car maintenance. How to check the oil, and why. Change the air filter. Check the tire pressure. Fill the radiator, and the wiper fluid.

Farmer Jane,

I think the list is fantastic. Don’t listen to any o f those ney sayers above. You’ve got a good think going with your son. You may not be able to do all of it but hey, have fun trying. It seems to me your doing more than kids with both parents.

I always tell my mom “Happy Fathers Day”. She stepped up and was 100x the father the other 50% of my DNA contributors was.

My advice as someone who isn’t a parent but is a son is… don’t promise more than you can deliver. Don’t make a big list of things you’ll do over the summer if you’re not certain it can and will happen.

Yeah, teach him cooking as Gwendee said.

If he likes Lego, play with them with him. Build something cool. Focus on what he’s interested in, anyway. If, for example, he’s not interested in playing baseball, don’t make him play with you just because it’s what dads are “supposed” to do anyway. Half of that is probably just fathers wanting their sons to grow up liking the same things as them.

I didn’t really have a lot of father/son time (half of the things on that list don’t happen between a father and son outside of television anyway, as far as I know) but probably the things I liked doing with my dad the most were making things (with Lego, for example), cooking and him teaching me things about science and nature, which I was very interested in.

As for putting the toilet seat down… if you want to be a good “dad” tell him it doesn’t matter whether it’s up or down, but women have got into their heads that it’s imperative that it be done their way so, for peace and quiet, we put it down since it’s really not important :smiley:

Farmer Jane - caring mother. For things to do, starting a fire is important. Make sure the fire is for the right reason, say bbq or camping. Let him play with the fire. Teach him that it’s not a toy. Extinguishing a fire properly is very important.

Jane, you ignorant slut! Loving households are way overrated. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. A male role model is important for teaching your son about pecking order. How is a young boy, without some alcoholic father, to grow up and learn that violence solves every problem as long as one is the strongest and most feared? The next time you see him, smack him upside the head for no reason.

Schizophrenic Slacks

I guess you didn’t get the memo, but as a random stranger on the internet you don’t get approval rights of her family dynamic.

So at 3 years of age, your son was indignant with the unfairness of a day devoted to honoring patriarchy and so he decided on his own accord that he would stand up to the Establishment and make sure you were properly recognized with a Father’s Day card, eh?

Teach him how to wrestle, fight and play sports aggressively (fairly, but aggressively). These are important skills.

Not joking.

IMO wrestling, fighting or any particular sport are not important at all. What is important is to teach him the importance of regular physical activity or exercise as a part of being healthy and feeling good. A sport may be a good choice for this if your son has a particular interest in it.

Another important thing to teach is how to work as part of a team. Some sports may be good for this others won’t. And some coaches will certainly be good or bad about teaching this. I’ve seen too many coaches who see their teems as extensions of their own egos and treat kids like cogs in a machine.

The foremost authority in the world on this topic has already decreed otherwise. If Farmer Jane’s son wants to honor her as his “father”, it’s not anyone else’s place to tell him he’s wrong.

A bit blurry, but look what was on the living room floor this morning. There were also “Happe Fathrs Day Mom” cards and pictures of smiley faces and hearts around the kitchen. Cute! My ‘breakfast’ was yogurt, candy, and grape tomatoes. :dubious: He also gave me some of his stickers as a present. (“Heer you go from me to you injoy”)

Thanks for your input. There are some things that I can’t do (I always take my car in for maintenance) that I should learn. I think my dad failed me in a few areas, heh. As far as sports go, I do think he should be able to keep up with the team. He doesn’t have to be the best, but he shouldn’t be embarrassed. I put our Summer of Awesome on a calendar and spaced it out a little so I knew I’d be held to it. Today is, uh, Favorite Parent Day, so we’re going to the park for a picnic in a bit.

Bozuit, re: toilet seat: A lady will thank me for this someday!

I know I’m not a man and I don’t try to be. But I think it’s my responsibility to let my son know that I understand he suffers a bit of confusion over the dad thing and I’m here for him. It’s also my job to make sure that he’s not lacking in any major knowledge as he gets older. It’s also important for him to have positive role models (which he does). But not even my amazing big brother is going to be his ‘dad’. He only has one parent and it’s me. My Man of the House is the best person I know. I gotta do this right.

Other than how to pee standing up and whack off, nothing a woman can’t teach a boy. Hell, I spent my formative years working as a machinist in an almost entirely male environment, hunted with a gun, fished, could do most basic home maintenance, rebuilt car engines … all typically male pass times. Though I wish I could write my name in the snow with pee. sigh being able to pee standing and not having to drop my britches would have made cross country skiing and hiking a heck of a lot easier on me.

Didn’t need Dad to learn how to whack off either.