Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Absent fathers

The weather in Wellington has packed up so time for a bit of reading.

After Colin James drew my attention to it, I thought I'd have a closer look at what the Parliamentary Health Committee published. The title of the report is long-winded: "Inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse with a focus on pre-conception until three years of age", November 2013, Report of the Health Committee. It's 126 pages.

When I got to about page 70 it suddenly occurred to me that fathers were absent. So I did a search.

"Fathers" are effectively mentioned once. There is a two paragraph section titled, "Fathers and the maternity system" and an ensuing recommendation. Apart from the acknowledgement of a submission from Great Fathers Trust (that was a waste of time), that's it.

So I tried "male". Again one mention. This time relating to sterilisation.

As a society we nag on about deadbeat Dads and absentee fathers.

This report only demonstrates that fathers aren't particularly valued anyway. Any protective and positive role they play is virtually ignored.

I'd rather end on a happy note. My Dad was probably the most influential person in my childhood and youth. Even today, when I need solace or advice or help he is often the first person I turn to. So my thoughts about fathers are coloured by my own experience. I wish it was one more commonly shared. Merry Christmas, especially to those Dads who are unwillingly separated from their children and finding this time of year hard.


Anonymous said...

For completeness, how often are mothers or parents mentioned?

I was amused that the Children's Commissioners report started with the obligatory words about how important parents are ... and then every single one of the 70 odd recommendations were about what the government needed to do differently!!! Not one about parents!!!!

Lindsay Mitchell said...

I reckon "mothers" appears around twenty times but to be fair their appearance may also cluster in particular sections. There is, though, a strong sense of the text being dominated by maternal issues.

Re government, check out how often "Prime Minister" appears. That's because of a repeated recommendation that leadership on each issue needs to come from the top down.

The report is drenched in paternalism.

Anonymous said...

fathers aren't particularly valued anyway. Any protective and positive role,,,

Fathers' crucial role is neither "protective" nor "positive". Rather, fathers are supposed to pay for their kids and the kids mothers. Anything else is secondary.