Monday, July 6, 2009

The right stuff

I had a joyful surprise one day, quite out of the blue. My daughter, then aged 7, was playing with her toy horses. Two of them, an adult and a foal, were close together, the big one was protecting and looking after the small one.
"That looks nice" I said, "the mother and the baby together."
She replied, "That's not the mother, this one is," and held up another toy horse.
"Oh, right," I answered, "which one is that?" meaning the one right beside the foal.
She replied "The father."
That was such a small thing, but I was exhilarated - clean over the moon. So that is my daugther's view of a father, a protector she is safe with! It got me thinking because then, as now, there were some news headlines about wildly abusive fathers, and it gets so bad that all male parents seem to be under suspicion. To know my own child does NOT distrust me and think of me with suspicion is a huge relief!
Like any parent, unless they've got serious issues, I like to think I've got the 'rigth stuff' as a father. It is not only bringing home the pay. Mothers do not only wash and cook, they also nurture. Fathers do not only bring home the cheque, they should protect and nurture. The trouble is, you can never feel perfectly sure that you're doing it right - until something like this happens, and it gives you a lift.
Just today there was news about another 'Josef Fritzl' type of pseudo-father. He made a sex-slave of his own daughter. How do you get to be such a freak that you'd do that?!
Some commentators, especially of the hard-line feminist (or female chauvinist) type say that fathers are not necessary. When you hear of a bad bad case like this one they play it right up to the max. But they choose to forget that there are some horror female parents around, too. Just listen to the news if you want to know how bad it gets!
Male and female He made them. Human children need two parents to be conceived and born, and both have a responsibility to make sure their children are cared for. That includes teaching them respect and self-control, and making them feel appreciated and welcome in the world. Or if you want to put it sentimentally, loved.
It is easy to see your own faults as a parent. I feel like a serious failure sometimes. But my wife and I pleaded with God to make us the parents we should be. We just had to make sure we listened. Perhaps with His help we got some things right.


Jenny B. said...

good post! I was waiting to see what you'd write next.

I heard about that case. I still have no idea what to think of it. It was absolutely evil.

Tamela's Place said...

well evidently the Lord has blessed you with a daughter who trusts you with all of her heart.. what a proud papa you must be. Hooray for the fathers, our children also trust their father totally, that makes me a proud mama. We need more of them like yourself. God bless you and your family :)

JMMEE said...

Again - as is so evident in all I have read of your writing - excellently done!
I appreciate your transparency in your writing and check back often to see what has been posted.

Tiffany Norris said...

Good thoughts. I'm curious, though--wouldn't both fathers and mothers have the responsibility to provide, protect and nurture (and, in many houses, wash, cook and clean)? A sidenote to your main point, I know, but my husband and I have been discussing gender roles lately, so I was curious as to your opinion on this.

Andrew Clarke said...

As you say, Tiffany, both parents have both sorts of responsibility, it seems to me. But since there are differences between male and female, not inequalities but differences, then there can be some differences in roles. Men can cook, clean, change nappies, and other domestic things. In fact, it seems to me that they should. It's part of sharing the load and both being bonded with the child. But men cannot gestate or breast feed. In some ways the woman's role is more intimate early in the child's life, while the man safeguards and provides. There are differences, and if push comes to shove protection might fall more to the male than the female. God made them 'male and female'. It's not right for a woman to be a domestic slave and the man only the bread winner, but it can be a mistake to think they are completely interchangeable - in my humble opinion, at least.

Tiffany Norris said...

Thanks for the response!