Unsolicited advice: needing a man

“I’ll tell you exactly what you need – you need to find a man.”

I was standing outside talking to Ethan’s teacher on Friday afternoon. We had just wrapped up a meeting about enrolling Ethan in speech through the local public school when she made this ridiculous statement while offering (unsolicited) advice about how I could help Ethan through this tough time.

Honestly, after she said this, I lost track of what she was saying and why/how a “man” would solve all my problems. I was just pissed.

I don’t doubt that having a strong male role model would be good and healthy for Ethan (and Lauren), but to make a broad, bold statement like this is just… stupid. (SIDENOTE: I have started the process of matching E with a Big Brother, but it could take months for the right match to be found.)

Ethan and Lauren (and I) don’t need a “man.” If I started dating TODAY, it would be a LONG time before I’d introduce someone to my kids. If a man from church or school offered to take Ethan fishing or bowling or to play video games, I would be very hesitant to let my son go alone with someone. (Think of all the horror stories…) His teacher recommended sending Ethan on a playdate with a friend when the friend’s dad would be around (right, because men are KNOWN for participating in kids playdates…)

No, a “man” isn’t the answer. (See my previous entry on men and unicorns.)

There isn’t a man in our lives, and we don’t live close to family or close friends. But Ethan sees women (me and my mom) doing all sorts of things: sleeping on a submarine, taking out the garbage, hanging shelves, building things, watching sports, talking about his personal care and hygiene, going fishing (my mom takes E, not me. Fishing is where I draw the line), discussing urinal etiquette, killing spiders. Not to say these are all “men” things or that these are the only things men are good for. Quite the contrary. Even if Mike and I were still married, I’d probably be doing most of these things (and arguing with Mike at the same time). The point is that Ethan sees us doing all sorts of things to keep life moving. We do all this without complaint, without being told, to keep everything running smoothly. And at the same time we’re doing all that, we’re also making meals, cleaning the house, doing laundry, grocery shopping, hemming school pants, walking the dog, reading bedtime stories, helping with homework, kissing boo boos, and on and on.

Ethan and Lauren are witness to a fully functioning household – with or without a traditional family structure.

Now I understand that both kids would benefit from being around a strong male role model, to have a real reference point for what it means to be a good man/husband/dad/friend. But that’s the thing. It isn’t about exposure to a random old testosterone-filled person. It’s about finding the “right” man, a good man, from whom my kids could learn and grow.

And those don’t sell those at Target.

8 thoughts on “Unsolicited advice: needing a man

  1. Wait, this is advice coming from someone trained to work with children? THAT’s her advice? Wow. My husband worked with kids and he would never have made such a ridiculous statement to one of his moms. Apart from all the reasons you listed why it’s a completely unappropriate piece of advice, coming from an educator it’s a total copout.

  2. Ugh… outraged with you. If providence sees fit to grace E with a father figure, so be it. But to suggest that as a solution?… Mind boggling. I agree with you !00%.

  3. It’s such an old-school way of thinking. I’m surprised a teacher in her situation would say something like that too. Frankly, it sounds like you and your mom are setting better examples for Ethan than the majority of men and two-parent households out there.

    • I went from being really angry – like “HOW DARE SHE!” – to thinking it was so ridiculous that it was funny. It’s become the new inside joke between my mom and me. “You know what would help me get my spring syllabus done? A man.” or “If there was a man here, Lauren wouldn’t have had an accident at naptime.” or “Just leave that empty cardboard box… I’m sure the man will take care of it.”

      This is the same teacher that monitors the kids’ snacks – if SHE doesn’t think a snack is healthy enough, she will confiscate it. Only one more semester with her, only one more…

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