By Jasmine Stephens, Family Editor
Since I’ve had my own children, Father’s Day has taken on a completely different focus. It’s a day for my children to tell their dad how much they love and appreciate him, to give him homemade cards with a wobbly attempt at signing their own name and – if he’s lucky – he might even get a lie-in until 8am followed by breakfast in bed.
With a jolt I realise that I’ve forgotten about my own dad and rush to the shops to get a card before I miss the post. As I search the shelves, it comes to light that Card-Dad is stuck in the same stereotype hell as Advert-Dad. These are the useless dads, the foolish dads. They can’t cook, can’t use the washing machine, have terrible memories, are only interested in golf or football or beer and are good for nothing except cash hand-outs and late night lifts home. Were Jim Royale and Homer Simpson the only dads to turn up for the card company focus group?
My own father was a bit of a trail-blazer in the early 90’s. A single stay-at-home dad to 4 children under 11, he looked after the house, cooked our meals, washed our clothes, did the school run, bought all the Christmas presents, remembered all the birthdays. As we got older he supported us through the emotional turbulence of the teenage years, the stresses of the exam periods and drove us all over the country in the search for the right University place. He’s a sensitive person; vegetarian, tee-total, into meditation and alternative therapies as well as football and playing the guitar. He cries at most weddings and the odd McDonald’s advert.
So I put the cards with their dubious humour back on the shelf. They don’t go anywhere near saying what I want, the appreciation that I’ve never managed to express to his face. Thanks dad. You made mistakes; we all do, but I want to say thank you for putting your own life on hold to look after and raise us through those critical years. Thank you for being my moral and emotional teacher. Thank you for bringing me up to have self-respect in relationships and pride whenever I stood out from the crowd. Thank you for showing me how to approach my own life as an adult and, above all, as a parent. I wouldn’t be me, if it hadn’t been for you.
Families and fathers have moved on since the 50’s, so let’s not perpetuate this stereotype. It certainly doesn’t fit any dad I know.