In a sane world, any father who abandons his children (and his children’s mother) would be deported and sent to a penal colony on some snake-infested island in the South Pacific. I’m not referring to the breakdown of a marriage, subsequent divorce, and a father splitting custody with his ex-wife while staying actively engaged in the lives of his progeny. I’m talking about deadbeats who walk away from the sacred and irreplaceable responsibilities a father has toward his kids. Society is far too lenient with such selfish, derelict losers.
But then there are stories like this one:
From The Daily Mail:
“When she welcomed the birth of her son Xander Dane in September 2011, January Jones raised eyebrows when she refused to reveal the identity of the child’s father.
And more than five years later, as the actress continues to raise her son as a single parent, the former Mad Men star insists that she has no regrets about her decision to boldly go it alone and not have the mystery man in Xander’s life.
Speaking to Red magazine about the adorable child being raised without his father, she mused: ‘Maybe I should get a manny. But Xander has a lot of bro time with the neighbor dads and my dad, who is super young.”
Okay, so the lady who portrayed Betty Draper in Mad Men—a woman married to a perpetually-cheating boozehound—doesn’t want to make the same mistake in her real life? I get it. That’s her decision as a mother and I’m sure she has her reasons.
The article continues:
“It’s good to have strong women around a man to teach him to respect women. He doesn’t have a male person saying ‘don’t cry’ or ‘you throw like a girl’. All those s***ty things that dads accidentally do.
I knew I would be raising my son alone. I was excited about it.”
Wait, what? The best way to teach a young boy to respect women is to prevent him from knowing who his father is? Since when did encouraging young men to cry more and looking the other way while your kid throws a baseball with poor form fix anyone’s “issues with women?”
And you were excited about not having a partner to raise your child with?
The assumption here is that a man would get in the way of the healthy, normal development of a boy. While perhaps the man who helped January Jones create this boy isn’t an ideal father, it is disheartening to hear such shortsighted thinking from the lips of any woman—let alone a woman with a very public platform.
Sadly, although not surprisingly, Ms. Jones is not alone in holding (and dispensing) these disappointing sentiments.
“Diane Keaton—the Oscar-winning icon adopted daughter Dexter in 1996 and then son Duke in 2001. ‘The loves of my life are my children and my mother,’ she said. ‘I don’t feel as if I need a man.”
Adoption is just about the kindest thing one human being can do for another, but are there no potentially unhealthy messages about the value of men and fathers being sent to Ms. Keaton’s children via her actions? Are moms ever guilty of doing “s***ty things” aimed at those who identify as males? Or consider singer Sheryl Crow’s approach to fathers:
“After the ‘Soak Up the Sun’ singer split from fiancé Lance Armstrong because he didn’t want more kids, [Sheryl Crow] decided she could do it by herself. Crow adopted son Wyatt in 2007 and another son, Levi, three years later. ‘I am the quintessential single working mom,’ she told Parade. ‘All of my decisions are based around what’s best for my kids.”
Everyone is entitled to live life and raise children how they see fit. But the pervasive “men aren’t necessary” mantra repeated by many prominent celebrity moms invites comment.
In a world that too often devalues the work that men do as fathers and role models, it’s worth reminding these celebrity single moms that just because they chose not to have a man in their sons’ lives doesn’t mean most boys don’t benefit from having loving, engaged fathers.
The best way to raise healthy future husbands and fathers is for young boys to see those roles modeled in as stable an environment as possible. This starts with men sticking around to raise their kids and provide for their families, but it also includes women being tangibly and visibly supportive of the men who do these things. You must show, not just tell, young men what to do.