Demonize the Father Day

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on Demonizing the Father of Father's Day.

Father’s Day or Demonize the Father Day?

Every time my dad leaves, tears come straight out of my eyes. My heart breaks and I think that I've lost everything. But day after day I stay by the door and I wait for that special knock on my heart.

And when I hear it I jump up with joy and the tears of happiness race down my cheeks

And then I blink my eyes, when I open them the bright light shines into my eyes

And makes them glittery.

And I'm in Dad's heaven.

- Love from Nazia (Yr6) Written on Saturday, the 14 June, 2003, and distributed to various journalists.

When you read the following ask yourself how you would react if the word "father" read "mother".

Tomorrow is Father's Day. Historically that day was set aside to show a bit of respect and gratitude to the men who work hard in order to put a roof over our heads and bread on our table.

However, no matter how hard I looked I did not find a single article in the media that would have reminded us about that simple fact. Rather, the press across the world is treating this as yet another opportunity to demonize fathers.

An organization called Fathers Direct (UK) tells that

This year Father's Day will be different! And the big winners will be children. During the weekend of Father's Day, the 14th and 15th of June, tourism and leisure attractions across the UK will be offering special deals for children arriving with their fathers or other male carers.

They add that the leaders of the three main religions in UK, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, tell fathers to "get off the sofa on Father's Day (June 15) and spend the day with their children".

Though Duncan Fisher, Chief Executive of Fathers Direct, assures me that their aim is to promote contact between fathers and children "Fathers Direct" puts the blame, even if ever so obliquely, for the lack of that contact on fathers.

Duncan Fisher says:

For too long Father's Day has been seen as a time when dads put their feet up. But the era when Father's Day meant socks, shaving cream and the afternoon on the sofa is over. Most want to spend more time with their children. And thanks to so many special events, kids can push dad off the sofa on Father's Day and bring him along to a favourite attraction.

Sections of the Father's Day press release by "Fathers Direct" reads:

School children send 'missing you' Father's Day messages to absent dads

Hundreds of children have posted special Father's Day (June 15) messages to their dads, many recording how painfully they miss their fathers. [cut]

The messages - texts, emails, prose and poems - have been posted on the Fathers Direct website - - in an initiative sponsored by the Department for Education and Skills. The "Message for Dad" competition reveals how children want more time with their fathers and details the loss many children bear when they cannot be with dad. [cut]

The very first letter on the related Fathers Direct Webpage read:

Every time my dad leaves, tears come straight out of my eyes.

My heart breaks and I think that I've lost everything.

But day after day I stay by the door and I wait for that special knock on my heart.

And when I hear it I jump up with joy and the tears of happiness race down my cheeks

And then I blink my eyes, when I open them the bright light shines into my eyes

And makes them glittery.

And I'm in Dad's heaven.

Love from Nazia (Yr6)

However, though that was the sentiment that children most often expressed, Fathers Direct chose the following as samples for their press release:

One 11-year old boy, Daniel, introduces himself for the first time to the father he has never met. "You might not remember my mother," he writes, "but I think about you all the time."

11 year old Dunia asks her father, whom she does not see, to look at the sky at night so he will see there are no more stars, "because every time I miss you a star falls from the sky.",

Liu, 11, says: "I might not have seen him for 8 years, but I love him every single day and night."

Charlotte, 11, writes: "I only see you once a week...Some small things I ask: Please come to my school plays and to parents' evening to see how I'm getting on." [cut]

Unfortunately Charlotte has no way of knowing that her father can only come to her school plays if the court allows, and the court will only allow it if her mother allows. Thus, rather than explaining why fathers do not spend more time with their children, Fathers Direct creates the perception that fathers walk out of the lives of their children. And it is all about perception, have no doubt about that, as I have shown in my other articles.

The Press release continues:

Duncan Fisher, Fathers Direct chief executive, said: "It is important to listen to what children are saying about their need to spend time with their dads. Their voices reinforce compelling research showing the benefits to children of dad being closely involved in their lives."

It is hard to understand why Mr. Fisher, who professes to be sensitive to the needs of children, insists on creating the impression of the negligent fathers and thus widening the rift between the parents. Read further:

Ivan Lewis, Minister for Young People and Adult Skills, said: "The involvement of fathers in children's lives can make a real difference to educational achievement. The 'Message for Dad' competition lets us hear what children need from their dads, while the events around Father's Day turn it into a time when fathers and children can really enjoy each other's company. We're backing these initiatives because it is vital to harness every resource available within families to bring the best out in young people. Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Alton Towers, Oakwood, Cadbury World and the Eden Centre in Cornwall are providing free family tickets to the best entrants in the Message For Dad competition, who will be presented with their prizes today (June 9) by Ivan Lewis, Minister for Young People and Adult Skills.

Divorced and separated fathers and children can only enjoy each others' company if the mothers and courts allow. Either Mr. Lewis is totally unaware of reality or he also intentionally promotes the perception that fathers, and not mothers and the courts, are responsible for the most of father absences. No matter how many tickets the corporations provide only as many fathers as the courts allow can take advantage of them. If fewer tickets are utilized than are available those who have made it their calling to demonize fathers will have yet another example: "see, fathers simply are not interested".

We are further told that

Many children have made more practical demands of their father in their messages: "Please lose some weight as you are getting fat," says Jonathan, 10, to his dad. "Stop giving me chips all the time. stop swearing".

Jessica, aged 11, says "Dear Dad. Please stop smoking because I wouldn't want anything to happen to you."

Translate those into a Mother's Day message and hear the howls. More blame:

A typical message is from Jamie, aged 10. "Dear Dad," he writes, "I'd like you to take me to a football match, because I have never been to one and it looks cool. I would like you to arrange for me to see Beckham and get his autograph. It would be fun. Then we could have hot dogs and coke at half time."

Poor Jamie does not know that the father is powerless to make the decision. This is yet another case where a child may be told: your father does not care.

Peter Mikelic, a Lutheran Pastor in Toronto , writes in his article called "Men must share inner space with children" (the Toronto Star, Opinion, June 14, 2003):

[M]any divorced dads act with incomprehensible insensitivity and cruelty, or simply drift away, explaining their lack of involvement with the thoughtless excuse: "I doubt they'll miss me."

The sadder truth is that nothing makes up for failure in the family. We watch our children develop, only to be confronted by our own faults mirrored in their conduct and our unresolved conflicts played out in their confusion. We see our lack of compassion in their wounds and the stubbornness of our egoism in their psychological disfigurement. ... This Father's Day, let's invite our children into our inner world, where both victories and wounds reside, and where the idealized father and the human father live, side by side, each having made peace with the other. In sharing our sense of fatherhood with our children, one day they, too, will find the courage to welcome us into their world.

Well, Pastor, no matter how many invitations you issue it’s useless unless you ask the gatekeepers to unlock the gates.

Today ( June 14, 2003 ) Mindell Jacobs devoted her space in the Calgary Sun to a father bashing article, called "Family violence solution needs men's help", about the mythical male violence against women and children which has yet to be proven to exist. Ian Gillespie wrote sheepishly in the London Free Press: "Like many dads, I mess up". Larry Cornies also delivered a lecture about the responsibilities of fatherhood in the Free Press in an article titled: "Remembering the moment fatherhood took hold". Judith Wright exhorts kids in the Canoe Lifewise "Forget the tie! Father's Day Presence" and goes on to lay the blame:

As we approach Father's Day, I'd like to talk about a different kind of "present" - the gift of a father who is happier and more fulfilled, truly "present" to his family. More and more fathers are finding greater career and family satisfaction by overcoming soft addictions.

Strange. On Mother's Day children are told to give gifts to their mothers, on Father's Day we hear that it is the father who has to give a present to his family.

The Hudson’s Bay Company, including Zeller’s, posted a competition about whose dad is most like Homer Simpson. The Toronto Star and some of the big corporations sponsored a "White Ribbon Campaign" walk to remind us all about male violence against women and children. Imagine the uproar if these messages, with the mother as the target, were sent to mothers on Mother’s Day.

Well, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Undeniably there are some lousy fathers, but no more than there are lousy mothers. Neither Father’s Day nor Mother’s Day is the time to rub it in.

Most divorces are initiated by women. In contested custody cases fathers ask for joint custody. Not because it would mean lower payments, which it does not, but because they do not want to be separated from their children.

Every year about three thousand Canadian men commit suicide. The common speculation is that men get depressed because of rejection and jealousy. Yet all available data point to the fact that rather than being in conflict with their masculinity the top reason for men to become depressed is the loss of their children, followed by unemployment or other inability, such as unmanageable support payments to their former female partners. In order to understand the life stresses that affect non-custodial fathers we need to look at their real disposable income rather than base our conclusions on their gross salaries. Often these men are able to survive only if their parents or second wives provide for them.

The subject of bullying has been in the headlines, at least in Ottawa, for a couple of days now as a mother is confronting the bullies head on.

Bullying, either overt or covert, has always been part of growing up. However, the nature of it may never have been so extreme as it is now.

An authoritative study by the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, called: "What Can the Federal Government Do to Decrease Crime and Revitalize Communities?" (January 5-7, 1998) concludes in Trend Four:

There is an increase in the number of fatherless children, who are more prone to delinquency and other social pathologies. Many of our problems in crime control and community revitalization are strongly related to father absence ... Innovative father engagement programs have had an impact on child rearing, family economic stability, and gang involvement. Unless community revitalization and crime reduction programs begin to address the need for father engagement programs and services, the cycle of poverty and crime could continue virtually unabated.

Christine Winquist Nord and Nicholas Zill write in their study called "Non-Custodial Parents' Participation in Their Children's Lives: Evidence from the Survey of Income and Program Participation Volume II. Final Report. Part A: Custody, Visitation, and Child Well-Being. A Synthesis of the Literature" that

Research on stepfamilies has shown that stepfathers do contribute income to their families, but in many other respects children in stepfamilies do not fare better than children who remain in single-parent families.

This study was commissioned by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (August 14, 1996).

A report by Statistics Canada, called "Growing Up in Canada: A detailed portrait of children and young people”"(Statistics Canada Cat. No. 89-550-MPE96001) documents that in low-income families, 34% of children with a single mother had behavioural problems, compared with 21% of children with two parents. In non-low-income families, there was a comparable difference: 28% for children with a single mother and 18% for those with two parents. Therefore, while poverty can exacerbate the problems faced by children in single-parent families, it is not the only factor that causes them problems.

Though meaningful research to the causes is nonexistent in Canada researchers in other countries, especially in the U.S., Australia and U.K., correlate all of the above findings.

Considering that almost half of Canadian marriages end in divorce we need to turn our attention to child custody orders. A superficial look at the case law would seem to indicate that judges now are more liberal with joint custody awards, as usually requested by fathers, but a closer examination of the individual orders demonstrates that most "joint custody" orders are no different from sole custody orders where the day-to-day care of the children is given to the mother whose household is designated as the primary residence, while the father is awarded the customary every second weekend, provided the parents live in close proximity to each other. Nominal joint custody is awarded also in many cases where the geographical distance between the two households is such that there can be no regular visitation between fathers and their children. Though there usually is a nominal order for joint decision making the final decision making authority is vested in the mother. In every one of the one hundred cases that I looked the father was ordered to pay support.

Anger at the wrong target gets no results, it can only magnify the problem. It is hardly cogent to dwell on the various methods of punishing the alleged offenders unless we understand what are the major causes and then tackle them first.

There can be no better time to start the healing process than this Father’s Day.

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