On Father’s Day (at least in most parts of the world) , one of the popular hashtags on Twitter was #FuckFathersDay and a search of the words ‘hate’ and ‘father’ or ‘daddy’ would have displayed a frighteningly growing results list.
I once read of a study where a group of scientists researching ‘love and marriage’ come up with a theory that purported, paraphrased here of course, ‘a man stops loving his woman when the child about the time the child turns 3 or 4’. You can imagine the ridicule that that theory was received with. In fact, that may explain its mysterious lack of mention on the internet but I ramble into the area of conspiracy theories not relevant to this post.
In evolutionary terms then, if a woman requires a ‘provider’ for her children, she had to continuously be bearing children with such provider/s hence the large families. The provider in turn continually felt the need to provide for his family. I theorise that this behaviour become quite engrained in various cultures including their religious. Not all cultures bought the one provider per family scenario but as long as there was young to protect, the men would be compelled to stick around and provide.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your point of view, modern life has lead to situations where our evolutionary pressures have been surpassed by our environment. Now, mothers can be providers too. Families, at least in the Western world, are safer than they have ever been in the past and protection is provided by society rather than by the man of the house or cave or hut.
Culture too has moved on and whilst most religions try fruitlessly to hold on old time values, many people now believe in their right to be happy. There is no need to stay with a ‘loser’ of a man. There is no need to live with the ‘crazy bitch’ even if there is a baby on the way. I am more inclined to believe that most broken families happen later between child birth and our magic numbers of 3 or 4 years old.
Theories abound about the causes of family break-ups and relationship advice is a massive growing commercial area with words of wisdom like those informing women not to ignore their man after the child is born because men are big babies and will hate being ignored. The biggest con of all, in my opinion, is that families need fathers.
It is from this fallacy that the most of back-lash against fathers being seen on Twitter is based. We are told children in single parent homes do worse at school (where exactly?), the reason for some of society’s ills is because some sections lack the father figure (e.g. Black boys are too feminised | Tony Sewell) and that the criminal mind is somehow excused by irresponsible absent father. Excuses, I say, excuses for something more deeply wrong with the way things are (e.g. The vast majority of black children are raised in stable, loving homes). For every one of the excuses, we can point somewhere else in history or in the world today where that same excuse does not hold true. For example, growing up in colonial Africa after the 2nd World War usually meant in practise being brought up in a single parent family as fathers went afar afield for work in the cities and the mines, sometimes never to return. Yet Africa has produced lawyers, doctors, teachers and other hard working individuals.
Whilst the “lack of a father figure” in childrens’ lives especially boys, is something the politicians – happily placing the blame for something on other people’s shoulders – talk knowledgably about, the law does not reflect the its so called importance. Fathers are short changed by the system and just about everyone knows this, so short changed that if a mother knowingly withholds access to children, she is not compelled or punished for failing to comply. Once in a while, we have organisations like Families Need Fathers and Fathers For Justice remind us of this shortcoming. Why is that?
Absent father or abusive father, what choice? Fighting parents or single mum, what choice? The truth of the matter is that our parents and us, as parents, make decisions that at the time were rational. We decide to marry, break-up, live together, abort or not on the information we have at the time or how we feel about the situation that faces us. Sometimes the decision in hindsight is wrong, sometimes it very right thing for do for all concerned.
In nearly all cases, Mummy, by choice or otherwise, is the one left holding the baby. Sometimes the hurt party feels that they must share that hurt with the off-spring. Sometimes the party feels that their justification for sending the other packing needs to be explained to the child in case ‘you turn out like useless Daddy’. Truthfully when it comes to raising the kids, whether Daddy is there or not, Mummy is in charge and any man who tells you different is a liar! A lot of times it is Mummy who perpetuates the ‘status quo’.
Millions of people have ‘grown up’ without Daddy. Many have done well in their lives and some have in turn become mothers or fathers. Some have even become Mummies or even Daddies (“being a father does not make you a daddy”).
If you happen to be one of those who ‘hate daddy’ because it’s a teenage thing, you will have to deal with it later but take note of the advice herein. If you hate father’s day because daddy has passed on, my condolences.
If, however, you hate dad because what he did to Mum, you might to do well to remember that sometimes Mummy might not be telling you the whole story. If you wish to blame the lack of your success in life to the lack of Daddy, you need to remind yourself that many people have been successful without a father by their side. It is that particular that fact that assures me that families do not need fathers.
We could all do with heeding the words of J.K.Rowlings in her speech to at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association in 2008 - “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.“
[First published on my NotTheNews blog on specified date]