The valuing of fatherhood

Fathers who would like an uplifting read should take a look at Dylan Jones’ comment piece on The Times website. Entitled ‘Men who juggle: School runs, nappies, long hours at work’, the article is in effect a piece in praise of fatherhood, recognising the value that fathers have in their children’s lives, and celebrating the fact that their involvement in their lives is increasingly regarded as normal.

Dylan Jones, of course, is the editor of GQ, the stereotyped ‘lads’ mag’ image of which is as far removed from sensible fatherhood as one can imagine. And he is the first to admit that he has not always thought the way he does now: ‘When I started at GQ a decade ago I banned all mention of children in the magazine; photographs too. If our readers have children, I told the staff, they don’t want to be reminded of them when they read our magazine. They want to escape domesticity and imagine for a while that the likes of Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow are still attainable, that the world of private jets, nightclubs and chilled Cristal is only a cab ride away.’

Now, however, he has seen how outmoded and restrictive such an attitude is, and he is not afraid to stand up and be counted. In this day and age, when mothers and fathers are much more likely to want to share jointly in the care of their children, and when it has at last become acceptable for fathers to express the deep love they have for their offspring, this article reminds us that we have made enormous social progress, and yet must still speak out in order to get to the end of the final straight: ‘Men no longer want to miss out on the early years. We no longer want to miss out on any years. It is time that we stopped sniggering about the so-called feminisation of men, time we embraced the idea of men who want to juggle their careers to care for their children, time we celebrated stay-at-home dads.’

In the same week that a study showed that boys who grow up without fathers are far more likely to fall – in what might be interpreted as a sad search for love and fulfilment – into early fatherhood themselves, it is also a reminder that fathers are incredibly important. Fathers … feel valued this week.

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