Trigger Warnings

Some of my posts deal with rape and that means that bits of this blog may be triggering.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Dad branded incapable for not taking his kid to McDonald's. Really?

Wasn't that a great story, just calculated to arouse indignation and disbelief?  Here's a few links to the tale of the dad who refused to take his kid to McDonald's and had his parenting abilities called into question as a result:

http://nypost.com/2013/11/07/psychologist-called-dad-unfit-parent-for-refusing-son-mcdonalds-suit/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2491248/Father-labelled-unfit-parent-taking-son-McDonalds.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/08/dad-criticized_n_4241370.html

Let's get real here, nobody would really describe a parent as being "wholly incapable" of looking after their child, just for not buying them a McDonald's burger, now would they?

After having read several stupid comments from nincompoops on the interweb about this story, I was roused out of my fearful torpor and irritated into doing a blog post, in order to just get it out of my system so I don't waste precious moments of my life engaging with clueless eejits.

Newspaper reports about this story are to be treated with caution, but let's just pretend for now that they are roughly reporting what happened.  One of them (and I forget which one) mentions a crucial piece of information that most of the others seem to have missed out: that when the child went into a tantrum, the father took him back home EARLY to his mother.  Yes, took him back home EARLY, before his visitation time was up, presumably so that Mommy could deal with the tantrum, because guess what?  Either Daddy didn't know how to deal with it, or it didn't really occur to him that it's his job to deal with it.

Now Daddy may have had another reason for taking the child home early, I accept that.  Also the reports may be wrong - maybe he didn't take the kid home early at all. There may be several other things going on which the newspapers haven't reported because they don't make such a good story.  So I'm not going to accept this story at face value but I do think it's worth critiquing the assumptions of most of the commentators because I think they show how different the standards are to be considered a good dad, versus those needed to be considered a good mother.  The comments seem to be a catalogue of misguided hurrahs of "Go dad!" "What a great father!!!"   The majority of the commentators haven't noticed that there's something pretty basically wrong with your parenting, if you expect someone else to do it for you.

I wouldn't condemn anyone for screwing up parenting,  I do it myself on a regular basis as my children will vociferously testify. But there is a hell of a difference between screwing up a parenting situation, which all parents do every now and then and opting out of doing the parenting at all. What parent hasn't thought how great it would be to have a butler or a nanny or a wife to dump the difficult bits of parenting onto whenever they can't be arsed to deal with it?  Which of us would turn down the chance of opting out of those hideous moments where a child's behaviour is awful and we have to simply get on with dealing with it?

Oh hang on, some of us do have that option. If you have a penis and you live with a woman, chances are you've got the option of not bothering to deal with your child's bad behaviour and no-one will think you're a bad parent for opting out.  You have the luxury of dumping your parenting responsibilities on to your female partner when the going gets tough.  Because in fact as far as wider society is concerned, they're not your responsibilities anyway, they're her's. I'm not saying every father everywhere makes use of that option: lots of fathers are more involved with the actual nuts and bolts of parenting their own children than men have ever been in recorded history.  But the point is, the option is there if you want to exercise it and you can do so and not have your capability as a parent questioned.

I don't know if this guy in this story really took the kid home early because he didn't think it was his job to deal with his child's tantrum; but what I do know with absolute certainty, is that if a mother had decided that she couldn't be bothered or didn't know how to deal with her own child throwing a tantrum, there wouldn't have been hundreds of people on the internet overlooking the fact that she'd abdicated a pretty basic part of her parenting role and assumed someone else would do it, while cheering her on and commenting on what a great mum she is.  I suspect that everyone would have agreed with a psychologist's conclusion that she was wholly incapable of parenting her child.

1 comment:

  1. There have been many stories about parents having their children removed for what sound like ridiculous reasons, and often it seems the papers are leaving out important details out of sympathy for the parents - the Scottish "fat family" and the mother recently prevented from taking her 18-year-old disabled son home, supposedly because she insisted on home-schooling, are two classic examples. I tend to take them with a large pinch of salt, which is sad because social workers do sometimes abuse their powers.

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