Yesterday, our Prime Minister wrote a piece for the Sunday Telegraph on, unsurprisingly, the subject of fathers and fatherhood. In it he compared ‘runaway’ fathers to drunk drivers and called for them to be stigmatized for not being part of their children’s lives. Unsurprisingly, people are criticizing the ever-loving crap out of what he said, because that is something that the British do fabulously well. Oh sure, some of it is partisan or class-based swiping (the assumption that, just because a politician isn’t from ‘the streets’ doesn’t meant he doesn’t empathise… but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax!), but I suspect a lot of it has a ring of truth. I don’t know – I’m not from here, so I don’t know what the set-up is for child support and the like.
Hell, I barely know what’s up with it in the States, and I am a half-step-child! *laughs*
Having said that, I am minded of a tale often told to me when I was a wee tiny. My parents never disguised the fact that I was from my mother’s first marriage, and indeed, I occasionally exchange polite emails with my natural father (whom I often refer to as my sperm donor). Part of the mythos I was brought up around was thus – my natural father was given the option of paying child support, paying for my adoption, or going to jail. He opted for adoption – he didn’t want children, and to this day, I’m the only one he has. And that’s fair enough – I don’t begrudge him that stance, and while I make it clear he is welcome to be a part of my family if he so chooses, I do my best to not force it upon him. After all, he’s merely my donor – I grew up with a loving father. He might not have placed the order, but he loves me as much as if he had… as my mother is so fond of saying.
In this day and age, the concept of family is not necessarily one of blood. So I admit that I’m concerned when the conservative idea of family is pushed as the one true way; it makes me empathise a lot more with my friends who eschew the ‘traditional’ concepts of marriage and relationships, if only just. On the other hand, it makes me rather frowny to think that people think it okay to bail on their family. But then I think about what would be better – a parent there who doesn’t want to be there, maybe takes it out on the partner and kids, or a parent who just phones it in from a distance? I think that perhaps there’s some really inappropriate ideas of what parenthood and relationships entail compliments of the media (which I’ve mused on in passing before), and that peoples’ expectations make reality much more brutal than perhaps it should be.
*taps lip* I guess back to the subject of fathers, and the male role in general. One of the blogs I follow, The Achilles Effect, posted a rather thought-provoking piece yesterday that I feel kind of ties into all of this. At the very least, it’s good brain food for thought:
On Father’s Day: Mr. Popper & Hollywood Depictions of Dad
I’ll leave that for you to chew on – have a good Monday! And if you’re in Texas – hope your Juneteeth was awesome, and that someone went to the Wave Pool in my honor. *grins*
Oh right… if you happen to like what you’re reading, why don’t you tell a friend? Or you can always go vote for me and make me feel just a little more loved: