It really is a myth that women are the only ones who can serve as a ‘primary’ caregiver to a child…

by Rod Smith

Dear Rod Smith

I want to write this letter anonymously to protect the identify of my son.

I read your column of 26 January 2011 in The Mercury with great interest and really wish to comment.

It really is a myth that women are the only ones who can serve as a ‘primary’ caregiver to a child. Its ‘first prize’ if both parents are available and share the parenting responsibilities (even though they themselves might not be joined in a romantic or marital relationship). I am, in the same way as you, living testimony that men are totally able to provide for all the caring needs of an infant child. I reconciled with my son’s mother two days after he was born. He is not my biological son (although none of the family is aware of this) and since we took him home from the hospital, I have provided for virtually all his needs (material, emotional, developmental). His mother struggled to bond with him after his birth and with my support we worked through this period and I did my best to ensure that its effects on him are minimal. During this time, and even to now, I play the most significant parenting role in his life (and this does not mean his mom does not have a wonderful and loving relationship with him).

I believe that the myth that men are not capable or competent to nurture young children is institutionalised by views such as those expressed by the writer of the letter to you and this is as a child which leads to men being denied the opportunity to build strong and meaningful relationships with both their children and the mothers of their children. On the other hand I do feel that race can have its own dynamics, but need not necessarily be an impediment to good parenting.

Durban Dad

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