Should You Only Have Children When You Can Take Care of Them Without A Man?
I think we can all agree that having children with a man who is not your husband is a risk. Not just a risk for yourself, your emotional well-being, your time and energy, it’s also a risk for your children. The likelihood of him being a less than consistent presence in your children’s lives decreases.
When many of us think about raising children, the assumption, especially if you’re in a relationship, is that you’ll have the physical, financial and emotional support of a man. A lot of women have heard those promises. Sadly, far too often, that’s not the case.
In the handful of times I’ve written about Omarions and Apryl’s, I’ve mentioned the fact that she thought they were getting married and stated so publicly. The two were in a relationship for years. They seemed happy. They were the most stable couple on the “Love and Hip Hop” franchise. From the outside looking in, there was nothing to indicate that they wouldn’t be together.
But that’s not the way the cookie crumbled. Shortly after Apryl gave birth to their daughter, the couple’s second child, we learned that they had ended their relationship.
Now, years after their split, Apryl is on social media speaking about the ways that Omarion needs to be a more present parent for their children.
She tweeted, “You can’t make someone responsible, either they want to parents or they don’t. and when they don’t, I pray there is one parent who will.”
Later, she wrote, “No matter what happens between two people you never drag innocent kids into the middle. Can we please Grow up…please.”
On Snapchat, Jones recorded a video of herself saying that she’d been the only one to maintain custody of her children for the past month.
I read all of it and thought it was terribly sad and a poor reflection on Omarion. Busy schedule or whatever he has going on, not seeing small children for a month at a time is virtually inexcusable.
But when I scrolled into the comment section, I found more than a few women who argued that Apryl should be able to take care of her children on her own. They quoted mothers and grandmothers who warned them not to have a child unless she could provide emotionally and financially as a single parent because “anything could happen.” They blamed her for Omarion’s absence, rationalizing that since she had children with a man who was not her husband, this behavior was not only to be expected but it was her fault for creating this position for herself.
I’m not going to lie. A part of me understands the argument. The way gender roles and expectations are set up, with the distribution of emotional labor and child-rearing duties falling on women, it would be far-fetched to assume that you’ll be doing the heavy-lifting when it comes to parenthood.
But, quiet as it’s kept, this is the case for married women as well. Even Michelle Obama spoke about being a single mother during her husband’s tenure as the President of the United States. That’s an extinuating circumstance. But for most women, they’re husbands are only pretending to be busy at a 9-5, with an hour lunch break. And they still feel like they’re doing it alone. And despite this reality, I doubt married women would be subjected to this type of rhetoric.
All of it just seems like a men to excuse men, again, from taking on any parental responsibilities–doing “women’s work.” What do men have to do to prepare themselves for fatherhood besides making money? At what point does a man not showing up for his children become his problem and not the woman who decided to bear his children?
As long as the father of your children is still alive, moving about as a free person in the world, who is not a threat to you or your children, there is no reason he should stay away for a month at time during the early stages of their lives. And if this pattern continues, Omarion’s children will have questions for him and not their mother.