12 Fatherhood Myths Debunked

August 30, 2023

Written byAdelekan Bolanle

Originally posted on April 20, 2022 @ 4:51 pm

 Men are human beings who have emotions, they can become weak, and they need someone to encourage them. Fatherhood ought to be emphasized as much as motherhood. Children crave for the love and support of both their mother and father. In this article, I highlighted 12 fatherhood myths that aren’t true and needs to be stopped.

“It is a wise father that knows his own child.”

William Shakespare

Why I wrote this article

Fathers are blessings. The impact of a father on the life of a child is indelible. Fatherhood is not a right given but earned. Fathers are great people, loving and caring. They are like a scale on which we measure our achievements. We seek approval from them even when we don’t ask for support verbally. The word “I’m proud of you” is powerful and motivating when it comes from our fathers. Recent events have shown that many people do not understand the meaning of fatherhood. I see men labour so much while they are young, and their children despise them. 

Fatherhood Myths: Fatherhood 101
Fathers can nurse children too. Image Credit: Photo by Josh Willink

Some men live their life labouring for the future of these children, and they end up disappointed when those children do not value their efforts. They begin to think about where they have gone wrong while raising these children. We know you love these children, but they do not understand your show of this love. The world has made us think men need to be complicated, complex, and uneasy to show manliness.

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”

Mark Twain

Myth No 1: I am the head of the family, whatever I say is the law

It is a common belief that whatever the father says is what the whole family must follow. The thought has made us train rebellious children who act out to show they are humans. Over the years, we have learnt that most homes where this approach seems to work were because the other partner kept quiet. I believe that the father is the head of the family. He is the leader of the home; yes, he truly is. It doesn’t mean that he has the sole right to make all decisions. The whole family should be active in making crucial decisions that may affect everyone.

A lot of children grew up without understanding the importance of communication. They do things without a sense of responsibility or commitment. Some of these children turned out this way because they grew up in a home where they never learned responsibility; they never had a voice! Fathers, let all affected parties in your home make decisions together, it strengthen unity and love.

You are the head, which implies that you should raise a responsible and open-minded family.

MYTH NO 2: Mothers are solely responsible for a child’s upbringing

Both parents are supposed to take care of the children. It is not the sole responsibility of the woman. Women are often overwhelmed with so many activities they have to oversee. Both parents are saddled with the responsibility of training and raising a child. My relationship with many children has shown that when both parents actively take care of their children, they train children who excel. 

Mothers are fabulous and strong. Sometimes, I wonder how I can juggle so many things. My ability to multitask amazes me. It doesn’t mean I can train our children alone. In my culture, we have an adage that says “a good child is his father’s while a bad one is his mother’s”; these adage highlights how women are stereotyped caregivers. Boys grow up thinking they should provide for the family, and the girls believe raising children is their sole responsibility. Parents must remember, Children grow up worshipping the parent who showed them the most attention.

Fathers should please be active in the training of their children.

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MYTH NO 3: FATHERS SHOULDN’T SHOW EMOTIONS

Myths about fatherhood
A sad father sitting quietly. Photo by Felipe Barboza

Societal expectations often pressure fathers to maintain emotional restraint, perpetuating the belief that displaying emotions is a sign of weakness. However, embracing emotional openness allows fathers to create deeper connections with their children, fostering trust and empathy. Encouraging fathers to express emotions positively influences children’s emotional intelligence and communication skills.

Abelekan Bolanle

Fathers are human beings too. They have emotions, and there should be freedom of expression. Bottling up emotions can cause so many health issues. Maybe this is why men tend to have a higher rate of developing high blood pressure than females.

Fathers, please show your emotions and let your children know you’re alive. Let them understand your reactions to emotional issues. Show them that it’s ok to feel discouraged sometimes but what you channel your emotions into matters. 

Do not hide when you buy something for them. Don’t be deceived; if your children don’t know you did those things, they’ll only assume their mother is in charge. They’ll grow up thinking they don’t owe you anything.

Myth 4: Fathers are Less Nurturing

Contrary to the belief that nurturing tendencies are predominantly maternal, there is evidence that fathers are capable of showing equal love and affection to children. Studies highlight the crucial role of paternal nurturing in improving emotional development and creating secure attachments in children. Fathers can engage in nurturing acts, from soothing a crying baby to offering guidance and support through different developmental stages.

Myth 5: Fathers are Secondary Caregivers

The notion of fathers as secondary caregivers downplays the active and integral roles they play in parenting. Contemporary fathers are actively involved in daily caregiving tasks, ranging from diaper changes to bedtime routines. This involvement contributes significantly to children’s well-being and builds a sense of equality in parental responsibilities.

Myth 6: Fathers Don’t Experience Postpartum Depression

While postpartum depression is often associated with mothers, research acknowledges that fathers too can experience similar emotional struggles after childbirth. Paternal postpartum depression manifests differently but has substantial effects on the father’s mental health and family dynamics. It’s crucial to recognize and support fathers facing these challenges.

Beyond financial provision, emotional support and active engagement are pivotal in establishing meaningful father-child relationships. Fathers who actively participate in their children’s lives, irrespective of financial capabilities, contribute significantly to their emotional and psychological development.

Adelekan Bolanle

Myth 7: Fathers Don’t Bond Strongly with Infants

Research on early bonding experiences between fathers and infants contradicts the misconception that fathers are unable to establish strong bonds in the early stages. Fathers engage in activities promoting bonding, such as skin-to-skin contact, cuddling, and active participation in caregiving, which increases deep emotional connections.

Myth 8: Fathers should be Less Involved in Education

Contrary to the belief that mothers predominantly oversee children’s educational milestones, fathers play an equally vital role. Active paternal involvement positively impacts children’s academic achievements, motivation, and overall educational aspirations. Collaborative efforts between parents in facilitating a conducive learning environment are instrumental in shaping a child’s educational journey.

Myth 9: Single Fathers are Less Capable

Single fathers often confront misconceptions regarding their ability to effectively raise children alone. However, many single fathers exhibit remarkable strength and resilience, surviving challenges and providing nurturing environments for their children. Support networks and community resources play pivotal roles in aiding single fathers in their parenting journey.

A father playing with his children
You can be involved with your child’s upbringing also. Image Credit: Pexels

Myth 10: Fathers Don’t Need Parental Leave

It is important to recognise the significance of paternal leave in bonding with newborns and actively participating in caregiving is essential. Paternal leave policies that allow fathers time off work to support their partners and engage in early childcare contribute to healthier family dynamics and strengthen paternal bonds from the outset. I have learnt from experience that having your husband’s support postpartum is very beneficial and improves the emotional stability of the new mum.

Myth 11: Fathers Don’t Face Work-Life Balance Challenges

The struggle for work-life balance isn’t exclusive to mothers; fathers also grapple with balancing professional commitments and family responsibilities. This challenge is largely because of the societal expectations placed on men. Addressing societal expectations and fostering supportive workplace environments that allow fathers to be actively involved with family routines is important.

Myth 12: Fathers Don’t Suffer from Parenting Guilt

Parenting guilt isn’t confined to mothers; fathers, too, experience feelings of guilt and inadequacy in parenting. These emotions are from societal pressures and expectations. It is important to acknowledge these feelings, address them and seek support while sharing parenting responsibilities effectively.

“Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”

Barack Obama

Final Thoughts

We picture fathers as someone who never cries, lord over their home, and discipline their children. We have forgotten that the reason for parenting, is training a child to go on the correct part. Fatherhood is beautiful when it is understood. Children appreciate a loving father, not a tyrant. Many men grew up believing these myths, which formed their idea of fatherhood and how to raise a family.

Many men live in total dismay; they cannot comprehend why their children do not value them. 21st-century parenting is about being involved in your children’s life. Don’t carry the baggage of your parent’s marriage into your future. Even if you never had a good father figure, you can be a better father to your children. We need to improve how we manage our homes in this generation. These myths about fatherhood shouldn’t limit us.

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