Granted, some dads fail so miserably that applying such a prefix would render the term meaningless.
As much as it is appropriate and has been necessary for ‘working [super] mums’ to be recognised as such, it is rare to hear those seemingly necessary titles applied to men.
It would be capitulating to the intellectually absurd if we denied that there is an imbalance when it comes to good publicity, or lack thereof, for dads that do their absolute best. Dads who, despite their circumstances or how they themselves may have been let down by their own fathers, refuse to use abuse as an excuse.
These dads, by God’s grace, are able to step up and step in to the void of their own brokenness. To confront themselves and allow themselves to be confronted in order to move forward.
They are not ignorant or arrogant about the failures of men towards women or why it is important to be on guard against misogyny. Nor are they ignorant about the negative side effects of it. Such as, misandry, the very Marxist paradox of creating inequality in order to achieve equality; or the grotesque abuse applied to anyone who does not placate, hypocritically oppressive forms of contemporary tolerance, by using the ”correct” label in order to avoid offending others.
It’s overlooked, but, in a similar way to a lot of mums, some dads soldier on in spite of their pain. They breathe, pray, think, act carefully and hope for the best. They stand on sacred ground. Applying what they have learnt about life from their pain, experience and healing.
I think one would be hard pressed to find a dad who actually feared not being labelled with the correct badge. One that measured his achievements with the principles of identity politics. The kind that sees people forced to meet the need for affirmation and legitimacy in others, even if they disagree on reasonable grounds.
As a side note, this is something that can be linked back to some in the politico-academic aristocracy. (That ironic institutional group of anachronistic, reject-anything-Christian, Marxists who are stuck in the early 1900s and 1960s – I refer to Camus’ ‘The Rebel’, et.al and Elshtain’s discussions in ‘Public Man, Private Woman, et.al’ on both these)
The great thing is, for most of those dads, none of the branding matters.These dads are not worried about the lack of politically sensitive labelling.
Their homes matter. In the right order, their families and friends matter. Their wives matter. Life matters. Faith matters. Providing for their families and creating a healthy home, matters.
Taking this into consideration we can see why God chose to be identified in the language of the biblical texts as being a dad who loves, firmly guides and protects. Although, ‘God is'[i] in His being more than a father (because ‘he is not creature’ [ii]), the retelling in Luke of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal speaks profoundly about how much God is for us, even when we are at or worst.
This is a genuinely revolutionary ethic. It teaches us, by example, that by God’s own standard, established in covenant and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, that a dad is not to be viewed as a means to an end; a ‘mechanism or a naked ape who is imprisoned by hidden motives and controlled by what the intelligentsia so often call hang-ups, such as: altruism and values'[iii]; i.e.: social constructs.
It will only reflect the sad state of a society when one day it becomes necessary to loudly protest and point out, that dads are far from, Matt Groening’s satirical, bumbling, ‘Homer Simpson.’ To one day, have to loudly protest that what it means to be a dad is not doing what is popular or comfortable, but doing what is right.
[i] Barth, K. 1957 CD. II/1 The Doctrine of God: The Being of God in Freedom, Hendrickson Publishers (p.283)
[ii] ibid, (p.313 & p.323)
[iii] Frankl,V.1978, The Unheard Cry of Meaning: Psychotherapy & Humanism, Touchstone, Simon and Schuster (p.55-57) [paraphrased]
Photo: Introducing my youngest son to dodgem cars a few weeks ago (bumper cars)