Friday, 10 June 2011

Absent Fathers

First of all, let me clear. This is not a post about parish team ministries, and neither am I about to launch invective at anyone specific.

My little target of choice today is the way that the world is appearing to airbrush dads out of the picture. 

In Britain, we are country who normally enjoy a good degree of geographical prowess, yet you will oft be assaulted by the fragrant Stacey Solomon on your evening telly informing you 'That's Why Mum's Shop at Iceland'. 

If you manage to find a shop closer than Iceland, you may find reading material in there (I use the term 'reading' in the very loosest of senses), and one such edition met my gaze as I sat and watched my kids play. In it was some outrage about a tanning salon for kids as young as a year old, and people issuing the entirely appropriate outrage were ... yes, you guessed it ... mums. 

I read somewhere else about a Battle Royal between Mumsnet (an internet site 'for parents by parents', though this is lost in the name, I think) and its Chinese counterpart in, well, China. The latter extolled the virtues of hard parenting framing the needs for setting boundaries and seeking excellence. The Mumsnet brand of parenting is, apparently, parent-centric and, it is claimed, extol the virtues of placing the needs of the kids after that of the ragged tired parents. I cannot verify the claim of the article that I had read; I simply place its comments here. 

In the end, my point is not about where to buy food, whether it is correct to spray-tan a toddler, or indeed the right way to raise a child. My point is that a significant cross-section of parenting society seems ill-placed to have a view these days ....

.... dads. 

I couldn't tell you where dads shop (well, I can, because they are all in the same supermarket as me when I shop). Dads are simply relegated to being among topics of discussion. I think that this is all a little imbalanced. Let me be absolutely clear at this point - mums are (typically) wonderful, and perhaps the most important person in our lives before our own kids come along. But dads have a value too. It is funny, in a week when a leader of hundreds of millions of people expresses a view, he is shot down in flames. When a parents of one or two people presume to write a book telling the masses how to raise their children, it gets awards. 

I have nothing against Mumsnet or Iceland, or anyone else. Perhaps it is the fault of fathers that we have become under-represented (save for fancy-dress mongers on motorway bridges). We have lost our voice, we seem to not have a case anymore. I would love to see a greater balance. It seems that, once again, the gentleman have opted to passive silence. Why this is I don't know - but our kids needs both of us, ideally. 

I don't shop at Iceland because of that advert, by the way. 


  1. thanks to @foj84 for bringing this fab article to my attention.

    We need more Dads writing like this. That is just a fact!

    I hope post gets read by very many people. If I can, I would like to link to it from our website and my blog

    Great work :-)


  2. Thanks to you both, and please feel free to link to this. I will look forward to reading the articles mentioned in your comment - thank you!

  3. David, Great post. Fathers are invisible in so many ways these days. Particularly when a relationship fails, the victims are the children and the fathers, who invariably end up not seeing their children every day, but also miss an enormous part of their upbringing.

    Relationships with children are so important and losing that relationship, or having only limited access to them is disheartening and something, which society, in the form of family law seems to disregard to a great extent.

    Militant action groups are the result of this, when all it needs is sensible compromise to allow the care of children to be a joint responsibility. If this works, it can be a great restorative in relationship terms between what could be, otherwise warring parents.

    I loved my Kids, but the Army in its wisdom, sent me 360 miles away from them when my marriage failed. This made it exceedingly difficult to see them, and allowed their mother, through anger and bitterness to alienate them against me.

    Only in recent years has this relationship been restored, but I am very aware of how much I missed and it still hurts a great deal.

  4. It's Father's Day on the 19th. Maybe a little something in the service?

  5. Fantastic. Blogging is good for the soul. It shares our thoughts and ideas to a wider audience and feedback helps us to formulate wider ideas.

    At first, when I mentioned the Internet and Social Media, particularly i-church, I was met with a bit of suspicion from my DDO, however, within a month or so, he was able to see progress in and engagement with wider areas than a purely, none social media life.

    It has given me things to write about, books I can read and review and even bloggers that I am able to quote to show how they've helped me.
    It led last month, to me providing some links for him to engage himself with some of the things I have been reading.

    The Church is slowly appreciating the scope and space and audience of social media. In some ways, the world is your congregation.

  6. Interesting that we have become immune to this sexism in our language and society.
    It cuts both ways. Kids are told to remind their mums to send in their coats or permission slips. Hecks, dads are literate and possessed of memories too!



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