Thursday, June 3, 2010


"Today's world desperately needs men who are not just generous at conception; it needs committed men who are generous in the fathering of their offspring; not just baby makers, but creative dads who will hang in there with the kids through the good times and the tough times. . . . . . . .
History very rarely records a businessman on his deathbed wishing he had spent more time at the office! The usual dying wish is that he had spent more time with his family. Despite this, it is amazing how many men let the unique opportunity to be a mentor and friend to their children slip by."
Ian Grant: Author's Introduction "Fathers Who Dare to Win"

Absent dads. For many families this is fact - dad is simply never there or never was there!

Jay Payleitner in his book "52 Things Kids Need from a Dad", says in his first chapter "Eighty-five percent of all youth in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. . . . Fatherless boys and girls are twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail, four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioural problems. Seventy-five percent of all adolescent patients in chemical-abuse centers come from fatherless homes. . . . If father absence is devastating, leading to all kinds of bad decisions and societal ills, then father presence is the solution, right?. . . . . The media, school administrators, . . . . seem to say fathers don't matter. Or they've given up on fathers. Or worse, we're told fathers are part of the problem. The result is, men are driven away from their families, fathers are disenfranchised, and dads are afraid to hug their own kids. . . . Men need to hear, 'Dad, you matter!' 'Your children need you'. . . . "

William Leith, who writes for the Daily Mail, in an article titled, "Why Do My Son's Books Tell Him all Men are Useless" (02.06.09) , says, "A recent academic study confirmed that men - particularly fathers - are under represented in almost all children's books. And when they do appear, like the fathers in "Gorilla" and "Zoo", they are often withdrawn, or obsessed with themselves, or just utterly ineffectual." Leith then goes on to mention, "hopeless Homer Simpson and his dangerous son Bart, and the attempts of the female characters in the family to clean up after them." He further adds, that most of the Mr Men book characters are "deeply inadequate". He says, "Something has been happening to the way we portray men . . . . does this mean that there is something wrong with the way we portray men? Or - more seriously - is there some deep trouble with men themselves? I can't bear to have that thought. Can you?"

If your searching for more to add to the pile, you could consider movies such as "ET" with the absent Dad, who tells his kids too much inappropriate information about his relationships elsewhere, or even lovable, wacky, self-obsessed Steve Martin as dad to twelve kids in the "Cheaper by the Dozen" movies.

Is this part of the reason dads are absent from their kids lives? Have they been told too often how hopeless and useless they are, so they've given up? Maybe it has contributed to the issue of dad's absence from the family, but it certainly is not the whole reason for their absence.

Dad could be absent because he's always at the office, or lifting weights at the gym morning and night, or socialising with the mates, or overly committed to boards and meetings, or pouring himself into creating that musical smash hit with the band. . . . But then there are dads who regularly are on the property physically, but are not involved with the lives of their children. Some of these fathers are totally unaware they are disconnected from their children, while others intentionally make a decision to be just that. These are the men who are addicted to the computer screen, are arm-chair sportsmen, garage dwelling hobbyists, are constantly working on the next home or garden improvement. . . . The activities are not the problem, it is the priority given to them, which is the start of the problem, and that priority is decided on by dad himself.

Wikipedia describes the role or relationship of a father with his child, as "fatherhood". It tells us that the more fathers are involved with their children, the higher their success will be academically, the greater their "cognitive development and problem solving skills will be." Conversely those raised with dad not around , "think of themselves as being less cognitively and physically competent than children raised with a father present."

Some writers try to enthuse dads into action, by talking of fatherhood somewhat like a game. Describing the great feel of success, "victory", "winning" as they go about fathering in a particular style. I am sure these feelings are rewarding for dads but to make that into a motive to father, is heading into the area of self - Dad feeling good! Dad looking good! Dad seen as the success!

This is NOT the principle aim of fathering.

Over recent weeks I've been reading about New Zealand native and introduced birds with one of my children. In the bird world, some varieties have fathers who are involvement with their young from the start, with nest building right through to flight lessons. Other varieties have fathers that figure in none of it. The thing that I repeatedly found was that the whole process was about rearing the next generation, not about the dad or the mum.

The final sentence of this week's quote ends with "Despite this. . ." - even though dads can know what they should do or need to do and have evidence of statistics to encourage them to change, they still may not choose to. Maybe for some dads it's because they simply do not know how to be a father or lack the confidence to make changes and become a dad who is around, developing healthy communications and relationships with each of his children.

So how can dads be persuaded, encouraged, coerced or confronted in their need to be there for the kids?

Three points that could help.
1. You as a father affect the world. Smile away, but it is true. As your children grow up they affect the schools, sporting clubs, artistic groups... they belong to. Later they affect the university they attend and the people at their work place - in positive ways or negative. Who and what your children are, is affected by who their Dad is and whether he has been part of their life or absent from it. You are affecting an ever increasing number of people.
2. You as a father affect the future. At some point your children will possibly have children, and they will have children and so on. The fathering style you give your children now doesn't just influence their lives, but is passed on into future generations. Is your conscience easy with what you are giving to your future generations?
3. You as a father affect YOUR future. How you treat your children today affects how they one day will treat YOU. Read the words of the song "Cats in the Cradle" or Google it and listen to it sung.
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

CHORUS And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin' home dad
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned 10 just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do," he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"


Well he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"


I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to Dad, if I could find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you."

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me.


"It doesn't seem to matter what job a dad has or how much money a dad makes....what his interests and skills are....whether a father is very physically affectionate or loves more quietly as long as the kids know that he most certainly cares about them. What matters is for fathers to be committed to their children and involved with them over time. When fathers take that responsibility seriously, their children are more likely to do well and the fathers have few regrets."
What's a Dad Supposed to Do? : MarieHartwell-Walker.

Dad, THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS choose to be the father your kids need you to be.


1 comment:

  1. that is certainly a challenging song - I was only reflecting on it the other day - sure makes you think!