A terrible indictment on modern women and their post-feminist ideology is the number of times I have heard women say, “He was a complete [insert expletive], but he is a good father to the children. On the surface this is a perfectly fine statement. Before we congratulate ourselves on spotting the blindingly obvious let’s look at deconstructing that sentence and the meanings of its parts by looking at it in reverse.
What does it take to be a good father? I suspect we can all agree that it is things like; loving and supporting the children. Providing emotional support and time engaged in the school work, extra-curricular activities or just providing a taxi service for their social life. All the things that would tend to be high on your list of priorities should we be thinking of having children. Indeed the presence of a strong male role model, especially for sons, has been shown to result in better performance in later in life (I was going to included links to web pages on the positive effect of male role models and the negative effects of a lack one, but the amount of quality research says to me – GO TO A SEARCH ENGINE AND LOOK IT UP!).
Now a paragraph on a single word, BUT. I was once told that to use the word “but” means you should ignore everything in the sentence prior to it. If the intention is to qualify what we’ve said then “however” or “because” are the words to use. Thus, the only meaning is in the second half of the sentence. Clearly we could stop now and rest assured that these men are fulfilling the main criteria of a woman wanting to successfully raise children.
However, (see what I did there?) the not so hidden agenda is the selfish statement that these men fail to live up to the expectations of the woman making the statement. Thus, the statement is more a comment on the priorities of the speaker. What she wants is more emotional attention for herself and less for her children. Hasn’t the reverse of this been a clarion call of women’s rights over the last 50 years; men need to stop being jealous of their children and get on with being a father?
If these women have set out to have a family then the man they were, or are, with fulfils one of the greatest criteria you could set down. They’ve struck gold, what more could they ask for? The problem comes from the “You’re Worth It” mentality struck into women’s minds in this era. The are told that women have been undervalued for generations and they deserve better.
I’m not saying everyone of these men is a saint, or is even worth staying with, however, men have been told to get the plank out of their eye and on the whole they’ve done it. What wasn’t expected was for women to pick it up and stick it their own. Parenting is a team game and is best played with two adults.
There are plenty of reasons to keep some of your own identity in a relationship that, however, is not a reason to throw the baby out with the bath water. Acting like a baby has always been the accusation levelled at men and now when they don’t they are still criticised for stepping up to that plate.
Women are in danger of absorbing the mantle of the worst of previous generations of men due to the rhetoric that they hear. One of my father’s favorite quotes is, “he who generalises, generally lies.” The post feminists rhetoric has tarnished all men with the worst of history. It has also implied that men are genetically set in their ways, without considering what this implies about women, or believe that the cultural influences can’t change men’s behaviour (See a post on Mothers Making the Next Generation of Men).
Women (and men) might have changing needs at different times in their lives (see Maslow, Changing Needs with Time), but they need to look at the life-cycle of things. If they cannot give and take in some places then little criticism can be levelled at the men that run off and have affairs, play golf or any of the other terrible misdemeanours they have collectively committed in the past.
A level playing field of equality does not mean women get to pick the best, nor does it mean that men can carry on as the worst of their ancestors (love and forgiveness – unpublished). What must happen is both sides need to work together, not just “because of the kids” but because the kids are your choice and you both have a responsibility to look after someone that is here because of your choices. You’ve no rights to put your short term happiness above their long term well being.
I’m not proposing misery for anyone, just careful thought about whether your short term gain is worth the long term effect elsewhere and ask whether or not you are just being a selfish git. We’re all part of a bigger picture, now we need to act like we are.