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By now, the words to the old children’s song are familiar to us all:“First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” It’s true that matrimony and parenting often go hand in hand, but do you have to succeed at one to be good at the other?

With all of the lying and cheating married men being exposed in the media lately—from Tiger Woods to The-Dream—the question of whether it’s possible to be a terrible husband but a good father is more salient than ever.

On the one hand, some might believe that the way a man behaves toward his wife is a completely separate issue from how he raises their children. After all, it is possible for a man to be unfaithful to his wife while still maintaining an active presence in his children’s lives, caring for them and providing for them.

However, while it’s possible to be both “good father” a cheater in those ways, infidelity conveys the message to children that it’sacceptable to be dishonest, selfish, and inconsiderate of other people’s feelings. Would a good father really want to model that behavior to his children?

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Additionally, cheating isn’t the only way a man can be a terrible husband (or boyfriend)—verbal and physical abuse, for example, are certainly not hallmarks of a good partner. Take Mel Gibson: He’s recently been exposed as an abuser but still demands access to the child he has with girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. But in reality, an abuser is even less likely to be a good father than a cheater, as he is not only a terrible role model for his children, but he creates an unstable home life and may eventually turn his abuse onto them.

Ultimately, it seems that it’s unlikely—if not impossible—to be a good father and a bad husband. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that men who end up divorced are bad fathers. Sometimes divorce is the most civilized and even most stabilizing way to do right by one’s wife and family, especially if the alternative is staying married but habitually cheating or being abusive.

What do you think: Can a bad husband be a good father? Let us know in the comments.

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