Theory & Essay

I’d Rather Be A Father Than A Husband

While I was in undergrad, me and one of my boys had one of those conversations that women swear we never have that involved feelings, emotions, and questioning myself. It was real emo. I’d recently broken up with a girlfriend and was more or less through with dating. When times are good, everything’s unicorns, Esther Baxter bodies, and rainbows in straight clubs. But when times are bad they tend to be real bad. In fact, some of the loneliest times I ever had in my life were while I was IN a relationship.

Well, during this convo that obviously never happens, I remember telling my boy that I think I was more concerned about being a father than a husband. While I could find some way to concubine my way through life with the freedom I wanted, I couldn’t imagine my life without any children. I come from a big family. Everybody’s got multiple children. I love kids. And to be really real…sometimes I wonder if these relationships are even worth it.

Being wrong sucks monkeynuts. And after another failed romance you’ve put time into you start looking for patterns and in the middle of self-reflection question whether or not you’re cut out to be in a relationship at all.

Again, that was all in undergrad. Truth is, I had no idea what the hell I was talking about. Plus, as soon as I found another woman that I liked enough to want to consider gondola rides and matching his-and-hers towel sets with, I stopped thinking so negatively. Plus…what kind of dbag actually WANTS to contribute to a society without enough two-parent households, etc.

Moving on.

Here’s the real talk. I’m a man which means despite the best laid plans of mice and men (and despite the fact that I kind of get paid to communicate) when it comes to interpersonal communication at times, I suck at it. Stupendously. I shut down when my feelings get hurt and I put up a wall that not even my mother can get through. I realize that I have communication issues which as we all know is the effectively the crux of maintaining a healthy relationship. Agreed? Agreed. Like anybody else trying to get to heaven, I’m working on myself and all that good stuff. But man…the only way to work on yourself in this capacity is to be in another relationship. Oy vey. So basically, the only way to grow as a person in this regard is to put yourself out there again and hope for the best and do your best to not be the reason sh*t falls apart.

Okay? Alright? Okay. Alright.

Again ladies, men have these conversations.

Moving on.

Another failed relationship. Another failed relationship.


Another failed relationship.

To say that I’ve contributed to the downfall of all of my relationships would be an understatement. While it definitely takes two to tango I’ve learned how inherently selfish men can be. And the thing is, it isn’t even on purpose. We’re just built to do things the way we see them. Women are built to view the world the way they want it. It’s the ultimate catch-22 if two people aren’t on the same page. You can meander through life as a man with all of the female company you need but without the proven life enhancer that comes with being a husband. The interesting piece is that none of my decisions that ended up causing damage were even malicious in the slightest. What starts out as an oversight that could easily be rectified or a conversation that just hasn’t happened comes with an indictment of wrong-doing. Which as any man will tell you, will go really bad really quickly. It’s not that we don’t know we’re wrong, most of us just don’t like being accused of doing your wrong on purpose. If we truly love you, we just aren’t going to do that. We may (and will) f*ck up to varying degrees but it’s usually never on purpose. I think women tend to benefit from Monday Morning Quarterbacking most of those f*ckups. We look ridiculous for something and it’s only because of the end result which gets turned into the purpose. It’s an odd dance.

All of that is quite exhausting and exasperating. It truly is. And sometimes, again, it doesn’t seem worth it.

Oddly enough, the same skill set you need to exist in a healthy relationship with a partner is necessary for a kid. And yet, it’s so much different. Maybe it’s the unconditional love. I don’t know, but I don’t mind having to be an effective communicator with my daughter because I need to instill that into her so that she can take that with her forward. I don’t mind being patient with her because I want her to understand patience. I love being affectionate with my daughter. That’s my flesh and blood. Little girls need hugs and they need to hear from their fathers how much he loves them or she’ll end up dating some guy…

…who’ll want to be a father more than a husband.


Interesting enough, I have neither commitment issues or fear of being married. In fact, I look forward to doing both. But maybe it’s our newfangled generation’s entitlement issues or hope for perfection and ease. Or maybe I’m just lazy. But how can you be a lazy partner and a great father. Except, that happens all of the time. There are lots of women out there with children by men who are as attentive and effective and involved as one could ask for to their kids. And cold as hell to the women who birthed them. Odd future.

I hope I’m alone in this, but I feel like I’m not. Women? Fellas? Does anybody else struggle with this dichotomy? Why?

Talk to me. Petey.


***If you haven’t already, head on over to The Good Men Project and check out “Eating While Black” — The Champ’s take on being black in America today***

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Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • PhlyyGirl

    See….I’m a baby mama and I’d MUCH rather be a wife.
    But tis life…
    The skills that make me a great mother made me a GREAT gf/wifey. In fact, it was said that I was too great, which is why I am now alone.
    I don’t get it, but you’re a man, so maybe you do.

  • Mr Coach

    I have this same conundrum. I was thinking artificially inseminate (spl) a lesbian so I don’t have to deal with the perils of the relationship, but that’s just odd…the problem is that the light we see as being a great father, we don’t see as being a great spouse. Sad but true.

  • SouthernQT2DC

    Awwww, I have a whole new perspective of you….

    I’d much rather be a good mother than a good wife. Being a good mother comes easy to me…selflessness, great communicator, etc. – piece of cake. Being in relationships with black men nowadays? Not so easy…the qualities that make me a good mother also make me not so great on the dating scene.

    That’s how it is…

    You could ask Giz…

  • MadScientist7

    hopefully i’ll never have to choose between the two but if i did i think i would honestly be a husband rather than a father. sure i would want the joys of raising someone with my ideals and morals and having someone who looks like me but the joy of sharing my life with a woman seems just a little more rewarding.

    my children will eventually leave my house and go on with their lives. assuming i stay married till i die that relationship is for life.

  • SororSalsa

    Wow. I was having a conversation about this today. I’m dealing with someone who does a lot of frustrating things, but I suspect it isn’t on purpose. I think men are often singularly focused (career, education, etc.) and women tend to focus on others a bit more. I guess it’s the nurturer in us.

  • Ashley Ford

    I want to be a mother more than a wife because I’m afraid I’d make a terrible co-parent. I’m the oldest of four children and a former nanny. I love children and I think I’d be a great wife…until I became a mother. I fear I’d suddenly begin to sometimes treat my husband (if he had less experience with children) like another child. I know my weaknesses. I’m working on them now, so I don’t pay for them later. Still, the fear is there.

  •!/Mailuv7 Mailuv7

    Pretty insightful. Seeing the problem is the first step right?

    Although I want to have a gaggle of children after being firmly ensconced in a committed and loving marriage; I still look forward to marriage more than parenthood. Maybe it’s because there are so many people who don’t value marriage anymore. If I ever find out that I can’t biologically have children, I have options; but what are the options for not meeting someone that you want to spend your life with?

  • Mo-VSS

    My father was an awesome dad…he was a suck ass husband for many of the reasons you listed. Add youth, hard life situations and him being an attractive man who wouldn’t say no to strays and you can see part of why my parents divorced.

    Oddly enough, a great father doesn’t make one a great husband sadly. I do think dealing with kids is easier because they don’t know…courtesy, respect, consideration…all that has to be taught to them more or less. With adults, we take for granted that someone just “knows” about all those things and when they do something to the contrary, we believe it was done out of disrespect or malice (which isn’t necessarily true).

    I look forward to being a lifelong partner and parent. Being a wife isn’t all that meaningful to me if I’m not willing to make the commitment to be a life partner.

  • Malik

    I can completely understand where you’re coming from even though I’m not a fan of kids until they reach the age where they are able to talk. I’ve often think about adopting kids or going through artificial insemination to have someone else that I have had no relations with, but with good genes, carry my child. Being a single father doesn’t bother me. If I were to have more than 1 child however, I would like that to be within a family.

  • Old man

    ” But how can you be a lazy partner and a great father. Except, that happens all of the time. There are lots of women out there with children by men who are as attentive and effective and involved as one could ask for to their kids. And cold as hell to the women who birthed them. Odd future.”

    That’s the rare exception rather than the rule. I wish you and yours the best truly but to think you your young can be well adjusted without the full deal is like waiting for those lotto numbers to hit. She will only expect what she can see being demonstrated by the ones that are invested in her the most. Again Im hoping the best for you but don’t sell that pixie dust to the masses. I pray every night to maintain my family and only hope that for you as well. Two Christmases, two Thanksgivings, two sets of parents to visit on Easter break = equals too much confusion to allow the growth needed for fulfillment. Here’s hoping you and yours are the exception to the rule.

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