Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day here in Oz, so I wish all fathers who may read this a very happy day. Father’s (and Mother’s) Day brings mixed feelings. Both my parents are dead now, so I’m sad they’re no longer with us. I find myself looking a little wistfully at those who still have their father, or at images of happy dads playing, talking with or hugging their children. My dad was a funny old fella in lots of ways. He had an awful childhood, a difficult teens and a tough adult life. He was illegitimate in an era that didn’t forgive such things. He was deaf (due to a nasty bout of measles when he was a little tacker) and didn’t receive a hearing aid until he was a married man with children. He wasn’t allowed to fight in the war and received white feathers from strangers as well as scorn from those who knew him. Yet, in spite of his disability and his dysfunctional up-bringing, he loved his family and did his best to provide for us. He taught me his love of literature, music, fine wines and silly jokes.

Some people have awful memories of an abusive, manipulative, alcoholic or absent father. I know people who can only describe their fathers as (and I’m being kind here) complete dropkicks. I know people, just like it was for my dad, who have no idea who their father is. Yes, for some people, Father’s Day is at best just a day like any other, and at worst a day to be endured with gritted teeth and maybe a little drinky-poo to help them forget.

We need more good dads. We need men who’ll be there for their children, whether they live with the mother or not. Men who’ll give their attention to their offspring. Men who will listen to them, validate them as people, show them affection but not be afraid to say, “no”, when they need to. Men who will provide for them as best they can, and consider their children’s needs before their own. Men who will be good role models for the next generation.

On that note, I’ve thought about fathers in literature and tried to think of some examples of a good dad in books I’ve read. I’m shocked to find I can’t think of many. There’s Mr Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. There’s Captain Sam Vimes in Pratchett’s Disc World. There’s the highly organised dad in Cheaper by the Dozen. And the step-dad in The Book Thief is okay. Now I’m starting to struggle. Any suggestions, people? I’m sad to think that in the books I read many of the fathers are either tyrants; or physically or sexually abusive; or emotionally or physically absent. I guess it’s not fashionable (or entertaining) to write about men who love their families, have a job and are decent citizens. Hmmm. Is it art reflecting life, or life reflecting art? My head hurts.

Happy Father’s Day to my father-in-law; a thoroughly decent gentleman who did a pretty good job raising his son. And, happy Father’s Day to the Old Boy; I couldn’t have asked for a better father for my children.

4 Comments

  1. Ken Rolph
    Sep 8, 2011

    This may be related to the difficulty of modern writers in depicting good men. I do mean male persons by that. There are many good, sensible, worthwhile women in modern literature. Men tend to be clowns or betrayers. The “good” end of the spectrum seems to be currently occupied by super heroes, who are not strictly good men as such. The kind of person I have in mind can be found in odd places. There is an actor I think is named James Hampton. In Sling Blade he plays a good man. This stuck in my mind because we so rarely see good men in movies. Hampton was also the father to Michael J Fox in Teen Wolf, where he is a kind of good father. But a little tortured by life, like Barry Otto in Strictly Ballroom.

    • Wendy Noble
      Sep 8, 2011

      I agree with you; modern writers do have difficulty depicting good men. Often, when we find a “good” example, the author or screen-writer depict this as a weakness. Why is that? Is it a global conspiracy against manhood? Talking about movies, it strikes me that Harrison Ford always plays a man of substance and reasonable moral fibre.

  2. Ken Rolph
    Sep 5, 2011

    7 Little Australians.

    • Wendy Noble
      Sep 5, 2011

      Of course! Thanks Ken. I’ve since also thought of the Afghan father in “Taj and the Great Camel Trek” by Rosanne Hawke.

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