Letter: Dads and lads
Thursday 03 June 1999
Dads and lads
Sir: I find myself needing no persuasion of the joys of bringing up a child ("Time for mums to welcome dads to the family", 31 May), but that doesn't mean I have no difficulty in being included in the inner circle of family life.
My first family was a cliche of career-driven dad, and at-home, all-coping mum, and I eventually paid the price in a fair degree of alienation from my two children and, after 22 years, the break-up of my marriage. I subsequently became a father in my fifties, of a son.
I was present at his birth, and thereafter probably spent more time with him than my partner, who still works part-time.I took early retirement before my son was born. I've changed nappies, ironed his clothes, prepared his lunch, been there when he came in from school, helped with his homework, read to/with him, gone cycling after not having ridden a bike for 40 years, and so on. But there's no doubt that in the mist of all of this, I still feel the kind of exclusion that Ms Neustatter refers to.
It may well be a deeply biological thing, something no man could ever overcome. But it's also built into the whole way of life we live. This "aren't mums wonderful" tendency would be fairer if all fathers were anti- involvement, scared of intimacy, irresponsible.
One of these days, when he's a bit older, I must suggest to my son that he doesn't accept this secondary, appendage role that is doled out to fathers.
A small sign of hope. When my son's teacher asks for "mums to volunteer to help...", she now always glances over to him and says, "Or dads, of course".
South Queensferry, Lothian
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