by Lekan Olarenwaju
In essence, simply sending timely child-support payments does little to elevate a man from the status of Baby Daddy to Father
“B-A-B-Y-M-A-M-A”; The word “Baby Mama” spelled out was an integral part of the chorus from American Idol alum, Fantasia Barrino’s third single “Baby Mama”, from her debut album “Free Yourself”. According to the singer, the song was something of an ode to single mothers all around the world.
For, as she put it, “all of those single moms out there who tough it out to take care of the kids and work two jobs, go to school” she said. Not surprisingly, not everyone received this too well, as critics viewed it as something of a bad example. It was said to be guilty of romanticizing teenage pregnancy and “sending the wrong message”. Fantasia was, herself, a “baby mama” at the time, having given birth to a daughter when she was just 16 years old.
On August 9 2010, Fantasia was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, after which it was revealed that she had aborted a foetus she was carrying around the time. A year later, she announced that she was pregnant for the same man whose fetus she had terminated; Antwuan Cook, a man to whom she was unmarried. To this date, they remain unmarried, effectively confirming Antwuan Cook’s status as a “Baby Daddy”, according to one definition of the term, at least.
A baby daddy is defined, unofficially, as a man who fathers a woman’s child out-of-wedlock. In many cases, he may be little more than a sperm donor, as the pregnancy will be the result of a random sexual encounter. In other cases, that of Antwuan for example, the term is applied to men who are romantically involved with women for whom they have fathered children, but are not married to.
Unsurprisingly, being labeled a baby daddy is completely different from being a baby mama. There are no songs extolling the virtues of baby daddies. The term has come to carry with it a negative connotation that implies, among several things, irresponsibility. Beyond the existence of a relationship, or lack thereof, between a man and the mother of his child, it has come to be more representative of what exists between the man and his offspring.
The opposite of a baby daddy would be a father. A Father is viewed as one who, regardless of his relationship with a mother, is present in the life of his child, and provides whatever he needs to. This distinction is thus made on the basis of the responsibility and inherent dignity that is involved with raising a child.
Society is filled with children who are brought up by single mothers even though their male parents are alive and well. The reality of the situation is that many men exist with children, not only from a woman to whom they are not married, but from several women.The choice of term to use for said male parents would of course be based on how present the men are in their lives; how many school plays they attend, how many birthdays they remember…how many problems about which their children can confide in them.
In essence, simply sending timely child-support payments does little to elevate a man from the status of baby daddy to father; quite the contrary. At such a point, parenting has become little more than a contract; donation of sperm to a woman and regular payments to maintain said sperm.
Of course, there exist the men who contribute neither financially nor emotionally or intellectually to the upbringing of their children and it might be a tad unfair to lump with them those who do contribute, albeit only financially. Perhaps they should be classified as Dead Beat Dads, or those who simply fulfill their contractual obligations should be upgraded to “Baby Fathers”, something of a middle ground. What say you? Let us know in the comments section.