As Father’s Day approaches and brings with it the commercial crap we all feel obliged to buy into, let’s strip Father’s Day to what it actually represents – a celebration of the male parent and their role in our lives.
Dads are not always represented in a parental hands-on role, but seen as the providers or bread winners for a perfect nuclear family unit. Here’s a brilliant article by Steve Hawkes in The Telegraph about the portrayal of fathers in TV.
According to Gingerbread, an organisation endorsing the ethos ‘single parent, equal families’: “In 2011, 26 per cent of families with children were single parent families.” Of these families there is a vast amount of single dads.
The misconception seems to be that men are somewhat less ‘mumsy’, which is clearly a gender-given, but also suggests that a female parent is more important than a male parent. James Nock is a CALM contributor who is balancing both employment with being a single father.
“Access and quality time with your children is key. It’s about being able to reach a balance with an ex-partner, one that extends beyond an adult’s selfishness.”
James’s view is one that has been formed from his passion for parenting. He was unemployed until recently, feeling that despite the evolution of the modern man, some bigotry and stereotypes still exist and occasionally it is from other more narrow-minded chaps not helping the gender divide. “Some guys would ask why, why look after your kids? Why are you unemployed? It’s different for people of all social backgrounds, but ultimately no man should feel that not working and being a full-time parent is a negative.” In a climate where unemployment is a huge issue and many men struggle with not being seen as the bread-winner, it’s not a case of laziness, but one of trying to balance both work and parenthood.
He feels that thankfully he has been relatively accepted by other parents. “Lots of other single parents say things like ‘oh you do that too’, so there I do sometimes feel a great sense of solidarity. Ultimately we’re all parents regardless of gender.”
He believes that the main bias comes predominantly from the legal system, who still give preferential treatment to mothers. However, James sees himself as lucky to play such a key role in his children’s lives. There are still many fathers today who are denied access to their children. This is not to say all men deserve to, as obviously all cases are different, unique and complex, however it is an unavoidable fact that there is still an unfair leniency towards women when it comes to parenting. CALM wants to break down this taboo – a taboo that leads to prejudice and anxiety and means that single fathers aren’t just the ‘lucky bastards sat at home with the kids’ but are actively juggling many of life’s difficulties in being a single parent.
This Father’s Day is a chance to remember how important parental figures are, regardless of gender or race. It’s about celebrating love. James says: “It’s about knowing that regardless of any arguments from the kids, the most rewarding part of being is a parent is when they show you they love you in their own little quirky way.” So for the dads out there who are defying stereotypes of family life, we salute you, and wish you a Happy Father’s day this weekend!
Check out James’s brilliant pieces on his column YOUNG SINGLE DAD for CALM here: Young Single Dad, Part One