Sunday, September 04, 2016

Giving granddads a bad rap is unjustified

According to the editor writer in the HOS:

"Many a grandfather today would have to admit their son's parental performance puts theirs in the shade. "

This is based on fathers being more involved in the day to day care-giving of their children. Those that are still in their children's lives that is. The HOS admits that based on the data used to write this piece only 60 percent of the fathers in the Growing up in NZ study were responding. (I have checked this at the two year interviews when the numbers were 6242 mothers and 3804 of their partners.)

"Committed, conscientious fathers of young children appear to be the norm nowadays."
Well that's nice, even if the norm is defined by three out of five.

By my observations young fathers today are very involved with their children. Partners expect it. Often the father takes sole care to give the mother a break. It's not unusual to see fathers take the primary role of day to day care while the mother pursues her career. And I believe that's a great thing if the two have worked out who is better suited to what and they support each other wholly in the decision.

BUT I am increasingly uncomfortable with the current generation of commentators painting the past as a time when fathers were remote, disciplinarians and marriage a loveless trap. Did I grow up in an unusual family? My dad was always there. He was better at caring for me if I was sick, he made the meals at the weekend, he took interest in every interest I pursued (and still does). Mum did all the housework (though a cleaner came on Fridays because mum was a full-time teacher) but he did all the section and home maintenance work. I'm told he was at rugby practice when I was being born but I was too young to remember:-)

We should stop giving the baby boomer and baby boomer's dads a bad rap. Mostly they stuck around, come hell or high water. To me, that is the ultimate expression of care for a child.

(Apologies to any fathers reading this who have been forcibly excluded from their children's lives.)

1 comment:

JC said...

I suppose in 20 years time we'll read stories from 30 year olds along the lines of:

"God, I was never left alone! Whenever I wanted to goof off dad would grab me and insist I throw a ball around with him or go to the park or a museum or some equally dull thing.
After tea I had to show him my homework and listen to all his suggestions and write them up as if it was my work and then the teacher would get mad because I didn't understand whatever the hell I had to write.. between the pair of them I never had the sort of childhood like the kids in stories I read who never seemed to come home unless they were hungry or tired!"

Back in 2005 I was at a 40 year reunion and a bunch of the wives were reminiscing about their childhood.. a common theme was on the weekends their mums would tell them "I don't want to see you lot till teatime, now away you go!"