As many of you reading this will appreciate, OnlyDads offers supports and direction to Dads (in various domestic situations) to help keep relationships with their children alive and positive. We come across Dads with legal, financial, employment, geographical, and other related barriers that make nurturing enduring relationships with their children difficult.
We have met Dads who live thousands of miles from their children after mums have moved abroad with them, and Dads whose relationship with their children has been reduced to the occasional visit to a contact centre (if Mum turns up with the children!) or the odd session on Skype. After the news item yesterday, I spoke to a Dad who hasn’t seen his son and daughter for years, not because he is feckless, but because there are chronic mental health issues which have not been sorted out. This Dad told me “I will always be here for my children even if I can’t see them”
I will never forget the conversation I had with a dad who phoned the OnlyDads office on Boxing Day (I nipped into the office for 30 mins to pick up any crisis messages) When I got there the ‘phone was ringing. The Dad on the other end of the line told me he only sees his son a few times a year. He was going to be with his son later that day. His voice started to tremble. He went on to tell me (by this stage in tears) that “he didn’t know how to love his son anymore”
Does these men stigmatising? Do their children need society to stigmatise them?
…No answer needed!
You may remember the Panorama programme on absent dads. Like me, you probably anticipated an informed bit of television on why so many Dads have little or no contact with their children post divorce/separation. Rather, we were treated to an hour-long programme centered on some cartoon-like character who couldn’t even remember his kids names!
That programme, like David Cameron’s views expressed yesterday, are knee-jerk viewpoints which add little to the research that is needed on an altogether more serious and complicated issue.
I drove to the TV studio more depressed than angry. Of course there are some idiot dads out there. But they represent a tiny minority. There are serious issues here and if as a society we really (I mean REALLY) want to put our children first, we have got work to do!
I don’t want a Prime Minister who thinks “stigmatising” anyone is good government. My message to David Cameron is a simple one:
Find out why the problem of absent father’s exists, then provide support and resources to facilitate solutions. Oh, and take the jack boots off!
As always – would love to hear your views. Your comments always add value!