Shawn Taylor, a contributor to the blog Daddy Dialectic, is the author of the forthcoming “The Alphabet for New (and Soon to Be) Daddies, Papis, Babas, Fathers and Old Men: Notes on Contemporary Fatherhood.”This goes right to the heart of a problem I identified in a post earlier this year; absentee fathers. Mr. Taylor addresses the issue as a code for men and really, that's the best way to address fatherhood. Being a mature man who is old enough to enjoy sex with a woman means that you understand that any product of that act is yours to take care of. Whether you want to be or not, you are a father and you have responsibilities. You cannot swagger around and expect to be respected if you cannot do something as fundamental as clothe, feed and care for your child.
I’ll be the stereotypical male and speak with barely earned authority. The thing that makes me cringe about modern presentations of masculinity is a lack of a code. The notion of honor seems to be considered as antiquated as an 8-track. Nowhere is this utter lack of honor more prevalent than in fatherhood.
I do not care if you wind up hating the woman you impregnate, it is your duty to care for the child the two of you produced. If you as a man make the decision to have intercourse, you consent to having a child. It is not algebra. If you have sex, there is a possibility that you will create a baby. But there seems to be a legion of so-called men who are a host of absent-father sleeper agents. The baby comes and their programming kicks in: “I have to get the heck out of here. At any cost.” This exit from your child’s life creates a sometimes-irreparable rent in the very fabric of their being. What if half of you just upped and walked away? Yeah. Stinks to think about, doesn’t it?
I am not a religious man, and I won’t get into the morality of absentee fathers. However, I am a man who takes enormous pride and pleasure in being the best father I can possibly be. To get to this point, I had to develop a personal code, asking myself questions like: How much disrespect will I take before I push back? I want my daughter to experience me as the masculine prototype. I want her to gauge all of her future interactions with men — either in friendship or, if she happens to be straight, in romantic relationships — on how well I treat her mother. Any man who does not have a code, especially when it comes to being a father, is no man at all.
If you are the kind of man who expects a woman to care for your child by herself or worse, the kind who pushes that responsibility off to your own parents, you dishonor yourself. You deserve no respect from a public who now has to foot the bill for raising your child because you have better things do.
Being a father is hard, to be sure, but there are plenty of groups to support you and excellent classes that will teach you. The most important thing is that you recognize your responsibilities and man up.