BY MPHO KUHLMANN
Americans have a derogatory phrase that rhymes with mother father that is used to slight men who date women with children, while Batswana men may not be that churlish, most however share the distaste for single mothers.
It is almost a rule of thumb among most Batswana eligible bachelors that single mums are undatable because they come with extra “baggage”, and are widely perceived to behunting for a prospective step-parent for the kids ÔÇô daddy shopping.
Dating single moms is generally presented as serious heavy lifting that should come with a how to manual and the internet even has websites dedicated to the subject.
A male friend once confided in me that “”each time I imagine another man’s child calling me dad, something inside me just screams NO!”
Albert Goapelo a senior relationship and marriage counselor at Olorato Marriage Counseling in Gaborone explained to the Sunday Standard Lifestyle why most men would turn up their noses at any attractive woman once there is mention of a little one at home. He however believes the disdain for single mums fades with age.
“It depends on the age of the man. A more mature man won’t have any problem with the idea of a package deal. But to a less mature man, the idea of an “instant family” might be a bit intimidating. Men don’t always know they want to have their own kids when they enter into a relationship with a woman, much less someone else’s. Many don’t even know if they would even be ok with committing their life to another person, never mind two or three. They start out just wanting the relationship. If the relationship goes well, then they start realizing that they want that person to be in their lives forever, so they warm to the idea of marriage/commitment first. Then they warm to the idea of perhaps creating a new life that they would be willing to be responsible for with that person. Also, from a biological standpoint, men are not really designed to raise other people’s children. Many do end up doing just that, and they’re wonderful at it, but men don’t share the same innate paternal instincts that women have. Many male animals will actually, when they find a mate with babies from another male, kill the babies so they can mate with the female and have her raise his babies instead. Also, when men see a woman with kids, their mind jumps to the children’s father, who may or may not be lingering somewhere in the picture, and always has the potential to come back because they are the father of your children. So whereas a man might be just ready enough to open his heart to a single person, he suddenly has to open his heart to that person, their children, and even their children’s father, because that man might be in his life. If anything, they’re sort of being responsible by not pursuing single mothers, because they don’t want to bite off more than they know they can chew. They don’t want to enter a child’s life and then suddenly leave them when the relationship doesn’t work out. They don’t want to become fathers before they know they’re ready.”
Kgomotso Jongman of Jongman Psychoclinic in Gaborone told Sunday Standard Lifestyle that, “I think it’s safe to say there are some men who shun the idea of dating single mothers not all. I also think it goes both ways really. There are some who don’t want anything to do with single mothers because they don’t want to spend on their kids or even don’t like the idea of the kids benefiting from their inheritance. But also on the hand, there are some women who are skeptical about dating single fathers. Traditionally in our culture, me have always married women with kids and taken their kids as their own but with the new generation things might be slightly different.”