Child-rearing is not an easy feat, and it’s even more difficult for single parents. The absence of a second caretaker means that all the responsibility of parenting lies on one person, which can be stressful, overwhelming, tiring, and draining. But no matter what, each day they put their kids first and do everything they can to make their world better.
Chatchai “Sam” Panuthai, a single dad from Thailand, leaves no stone unturned to make his sons feel special. August 12 is celebrated as mother’s day every year in Thailand. At an event held in 2018 at his sons’ school, to mark the occasion when all their peers came with their mothers, he did something special so that his sons wouldn’t feel left out.
According to HuffPost, he wore a pink lace dress to greet his two sons, Income, 3, and Ozone, 5, at the school event ahead of Mother’s Day, in Thailand. The sweet gesture was captured by Kornpat Ae Sukhom, a close friend of Panuthai, who then posted it on Facebook on August 9, 2018.
The video shows Panuthai and Ozone at the school’s Mother’s Day ceremony. During these ceremonies, as per custom, children usually kneel at their mom’s feet as a sign of gratitude for all she has done, BuzzFeed News reported. Sukhum’s video quickly went viral, and people couldn’t get enough of the father’s thoughtfulness.
At the time, Sukhom shared that that Panuthai and his wife are divorced and she lives in Europe. She shared that her friend decided to wear a dress so his sons’ would feel included. “He wanted the children not to feel left out because their mother had left them,” she told Inside Edition. “Everyone enjoyed it and all laughed and took photos with him,” she said. “His two sons weren’t quite sure what was going on and why Dad was wearing a dress.”
Though being a single parent is hard for men too, society sees single mothers and fathers differently. “We consider childrearing to be largely women’s domain in the U.S.,” says Caitlyn Collins, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology at Washington University in St. Louis, according to Parents. “This is problematic for a host of reasons, but it means that society perceives single mothers and fathers differently.”
The expectation that single moms must juggle work and children makes it harder on them. Single moms are usually judged more harshly than single dads when things fall through the cracks like a forgotten homework assignment at school or being late to pick kids up from childcare, says Dr. Collins. “Because, again, women are supposed to be ‘naturally’ capable caregivers in a way we don’t assume for men.”
Jeffrey Gardere, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in New York City added that while women are expected to be perfect mothers no matter their circumstances, single dads are seen as less capable of parenting and therefore labeled courageous or celebrated for taking on the primary parent role.
“Single fathers are given much more sympathy, and they are cut more breaks when it comes to making parenting mistakes,” he shared.
It’s undeniable that gender disparity continues to exist between single fathers and single mothers. “Men tend to receive praise in the public sphere when caring for their children—in the grocery store, at the park—because it’s seen as going ‘above and beyond typical expectations for fathers,” says Dr. Collins. “Women in the same scenario are just seen as doing their job as mothers.”
This might change with time, but for now, kudos to men like Panuthai, who are making it a point to do everything in his power to raise his sons right. After all, equality starts at home.