Jendella Benson: Dad's The Word
I know you’ve just watched an episode of Teen Mom UK, but let’s talk about dads for a bit.
We spend so much time focused on young mums – what they are doing ‘wrong’, whether they can handle it or not, etc – that we can often overlook the fathers of the children of those young mums.A lot of the time, the dads are relatively young themselves, but as mentioned in one of my earlier posts, they often get forgotten when it comes to support and preparation for parenthood.
Many young mums I know have said how differently people respond to the fathers of their children. People often congratulate them and let them know how great they think they are going to be at fatherhood. While encouragement and excitement is fantastic (and it would be great if more young mums received similar responses), does that really prepare young men for the world of parenting?
When my friend found out she was pregnant at seventeen, her boyfriend left his dream course at university to work full time. I can’t imagine how hard such a decision was, but I respect him so much for sacrificing his own desires to provide for his new family.
On Teen Mom UK, we see Jordan and Dylan working similarly hard to support their girlfriends and babies. It’s great that they’re doing this without a doubt, but we never really think about the pressures they may feel in the process.
No matter how far we’ve ‘progressed’ as a society, when it comes to family the expectations we have are pretty similar to how they’ve always been. Women are meant to do most of the parenting and men are meant to do most of the providing. What we don’t talk about is the effect that these expectations can have on young parents in general - with dads especially not getting much of a mention.
We also have the expectation that women are more emotional, while men have to just ‘get on with it’. With the pressure of being a brand new young dad and then maybe not feeling able to really express that, I think it’s almost inevitable when that pressure gets released in other ways.Constant bickering, wanting to control your partner, bouncing around between love interests and maybe even cheating on your partner could be seen as symptoms of a stressed out dad, as well as not being able to emotionally relate to the mother of your child. This is not to excuse or justify any of these actions, but I’m just saying once again that young dads need support too!
It would be great if more concern was shown for young dads and how to support them as they face their brand new responsibilities. Though their challenges may be slightly different, their role is just as important as that of a teen mum.
Words: Jendella Benson, Young Motherhood
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