Dads are fandabbydozy (sp?)

I picked up a little pocket card marked with the words ‘dad info’ today, whilst out at the baby weighing clinic (he put on almost half a pound if you’re interested). It led to an interesting little sojourn around the web this afternoon (and a rather meandering blog post…):  

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Dadinfo is a really useful and well put together resource for dads – and mums – and its section on relationship breakdown and legal rights gives a refreshingly balanced and plain english explanation of the position for dads who are worried what will happen if their relationship breaks down and they need to go to court. It doesn’t perpetuate the myth of judicial bias but simply acknowledges the obvious reality that cultural assumptions that we are all prone to rely upon about parenting sometimes play a part in judicial decision making. And of course those cultural assumptions about what it is to be a mum or a dad are being broken down every day. It promotes positive communication and attempts to resolve matters out of court – hurrah. I commend this website to you. I am going to add it to my blog roll now…

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One of the authors of dadinfo is a chap called Gavin Evans (he must be alright ‘cos he lectures for Birkbeck) who writes intelligently about the issue of gender and parenting roles on his blog. Posts and comments on that blog have led me to this book, which is now on my list of books to read just as soon as I have a mo (i.e. when I retire).

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It’s been nice to read these bits and pieces, and when I’m just about to go back to work and ‘abandon’ my little one to the one with the beard its particularly nice to hear about dads who have been involved in equal parenting ventures and made a success of it (not that I didn’t know they were already out there) without being bombarded with father’s rights style militancy. Although I don’t have any trouble with abandoning traditional parenting roles and chopping and splicing ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ roles to suit, you’d be surprised how many odd looks we have had when people hear about our plans for childcare.

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By way of example, last week whilst I was doing a half day at work, my other half was looking after the sprog in a coffee shop, and was told by a middle aged woman: ‘Oh you’re so good with him – my husband never did that with my kids’, as if his ability to sit and hold a 2 month old baby without being supervised by me was something to be marvelled at. Whilst it was obviously intended as a compliment about the modern dad, on his behalf I’m a little insulted all the same. Of course he’s good with him – he’s his DAD. Its not a freak show, lady. 

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Anyway, the point is – you might almost believe from dad.info that being a hands on dad was normal….We need more of that positivity about fatherhood. Dads are gRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEAAAAT! (NOT an endorsement of tooth-rotting-Frosties which are not grRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEAAAAT for teeth) RANT ENDS.

5 thoughts on “Dads are fandabbydozy (sp?)

  1. Dads are gRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEAAAAT!

    Is that because he wears nappies?

    (Read the post below, carefully)

    Dr. P. Dant

  2. fnar fnar….yeah i kind of spotted that little glitch, but then got distracted by the need to change a nappy i think…no the bearded one is fully potty trained…

  3. Nick Langford

    My postings to your blog always seem to be rather negative (I know, get your own blog), and that isn’t like me at all, so I’ll start by earning a couple of brownie points for saying how glad I am (truly) that the wee man is progressing well, and for thanking you for your endorsement of us dads (tell that to Harman).

    Now to business. I can’t help but notice that there is a proliferation of websites now, patronisingly purporting to help dads and give them advice (funny how my father managed to change nappies – not disposable – without such help). There are really only two reasons for producing websites for fathers; the first is for the purpose of running a campaign for legal reform, and the second is to counter the claims made by such campaigns (while suggesting that fatherhood is something the state needs to monitor closely).

    The first are run for their members, with funding from their members (unless you sell out, as some have done) and the second are run and funded by government (though they often cover their tracks well). I doubt very much that there is a third kind, run for purely altruistic reasons, and without funding other than by the owner.

    Dadsinfo appears to be independent, but its content follows a familiar touchy-feely pattern (politically uncontroversial), and its owner, Duncan Fisher, was (is?) the chief executive of Fathers Direct (now the pretentiously named Fatherhood Institute) which is a government-run agency. Other contributors have a Fathers Direct background.

    Just an observation.

  4. I don’t know where the funding for dadsinfo comes from or who it is ultimately run by, but I think its a useful resource nonetheless.

    I understand why you see the site as slightly patronising, and to some extent I agree – but I think there are a lot of new and young dads out there who don’t necessarily have the confidence to be hands on dads because they don’t have experience of it from their own dads. And I value that this site tells them that its ok to be involved and helps them to do that – even though for you, your dad, my other half and lots of others it might all be a bit obvious or patronising.

    I don’t necessarily have a problem with a site like this having government backing, but I’m not sure exactly what you are suggesting the implications of being ‘funded and run by government are’. If there is some secret government agenda behind it its a pretty benign one I think.

    You suggest one of the roles of dadinfo may be to counter the claims of other more campaign based websites – perhaps, but from where I’m standing it adds a bit of balance to what is otherwise quite a skewed selection of resource available on the web. There is room on the web for each type of site.

  5. Nick Langford

    No, I don’t think there is a secret government agenda, they aren’t that competent, though there are certainly individual MPs with their own agendas, many of which are profoundly anti-family. It is certainly the case – we have evidence – that the government has funded some ‘rival’ organisations in order to lure members away from us. Some might think that is a responsible use of public funds, but it hasn’t worked very well. I am also suspicious of a government which tends – wittingly or not – to exclude fathers at every step, and then financially backs websites which try to pick up the pieces. This government has always been wildly inconsistent on family policy and I suppose I cannot accept any of these websites at face value. Government funding does mean that the recipients need to be careful about how much they criticise government policy if they don’t want their income to dry up – F4J may have next to no money, but at least we can be entirely honest in what we say and how we campaign.

    Obviously my perspective differs from yours, and I see an imbalance the other way, we cannot use taxpayers’ money to promote our views, nor can we take down websites we don’t like – as has happened in other jurisdictions and has been attempted here.

    I certainly take your point that many new fathers need help to be fathers because they do not have the example of their own fathers to follow. I am concerned, however, that our society has reached a point where men have to be told that its ‘ok to be involved’. Can you imagine reaching a point where mothers need to be told that? On this point therefore I think you are wrong: a father being allowed to be a father is indeed now a freak show.

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