All the Single Male Parents

Jun 27 , 2020
By Eden Sahle

Men and women, one much more than the other, are biased against women. This is one of the key reasons fundamental improvement has become unattainable in Ethiopia in terms of gender equality. Education has done very little in this regard because, as is often the case, behavioral change is required more than a teacher telling students what to do.

The wrong beliefs people associate with gender are a harmful practice we all should work to eradicate. This is a problem that has not only led to the economic, political and social disenfranchisement of women but the ossification of men's place within family dynamics. It has led to the view that women should not be allowed to go out and work and created the damaging perception that men should be peripheral to parenting.

This has undervalued the contributions of fathers, preventing them from having deeper relationships with their children. The blame may fall on the laps of men, for they have created the patriarchal structures that bog progress down to this day, but some of them have been victims of this as well.

A good example, at the expense of sounding biased, is my father, who raised my siblings and me as the only parent until my mother joined him two decades later. He was advised to leave his long-distance marriage and marry someone else to share the parenting responsibilities. People told him it is not possible for him to raise his offspring, because he is a man, and that it was an erosion to his manhood.

My father grew up in a harmful culture but managed to grow out of it.

He cooked, cleaned, drove us to school and bought groceries. He was compassionate and loving and handled tasks often attributed by society to women. Even when I was going through puberty, he was able to listen and give me advice. Not only did he take my immature concerns seriously for several months but also helped me love the natural course of life.

For men to do tasks originally assigned by society to women may not seem like a great sacrifice, but it is one of life's great challenges for a parent to bring up children alone. It is undoubtedly harder for female single parents, but it is no walk in the park for men either.

No doubt, there are as many women that share this biased outlook as there are men. The gendered division of labour is something that has been passed from one generation to another for such a long time that a different way of parenting seems unthinkable for many. Such distorted understandings, coming from both genders, are symptoms of a society that never came to terms with its harmful norms and values.

Good parents are those who model love, care, kindness, equality, responsibility and passion in life; the ones who pass on great character to their children. Here, men and women are equally imbued with the ability to inculcate a unique way of looking at the world in their children, if they have the patience and willingness.

Men should be treated as equals in parenting, an important factor for social progress that requires their effort. The remarkable contributions they can make should not be overshadowed by society's insistence on maintaining a system that is as outdated as it is harmful.

The common bias that men are bad parents and women are good parents is unfounded. Great parenting is not gender-based but depends upon character. It is accomplished by being an example to one's children, who must be prepared for the challenges life will bring.

I experienced this firsthand. When we were old enough to help around the home my younger brother and I knew how to clean, cook, and look after ourselves. This allowed us to learn important life skills, which, if we are strong enough, we will pass on to our children.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 27,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1052]

Eden Sahle is founder and CEO of Yada Technology Plc. She has studied law with a focus on international economic law. She can be reached at

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