Waldlaw Blog

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fathers Aren't Expendable

This is a follow-up to my last post, to clarify a few things I said there. (I love to get feedback on my posts, and thanks to all of you who give it!) I've been told that the tone of my last post suggested that I think fathers are expendable. This is far from true. I think that children have a right to know where they come from, and all children have fathers (at least in the biological sense), and therefore every child should have some sense of "father" in his or her life, whether that is an actual living, breathing person or just a concept. For many children, including me, fathers are a precious asset -- I, for one, was extremely close to my father and I sorely miss him, even though he's been dead for almost 10 years. He was, in many ways, my guiding light -- an extremely intelligent, thoughtful, funny, eccentric and flawed person who was passionate about justice and who loved me absolutely and without question just because I was his little girl, even once I was grown and independent and sometimes cranky with him. So fathers -- I actually think they're pretty wonderful. What I was addressing in my last post was this new book that is trying to refute the myth that women alone can't raise healthy men. And I do believe what this book says. But I equally believe that men alone can raise healthy girls (or boys, for that matter). The bottom line, for me, is that good parents can raise great kids, regardless of the gender breakdown of the parents. And part of good parenting is to recognize what one lacks -- be it a male or female role model in the home, or certain skills or talents (like writing, or athletics) that need to be made up for elsewhere. So a good single (and/or lesbian) mom will find strong male role models for her sons and daughters, so the kids grow up with a well-rounded sense of sex and gender; a good single (and/or gay male) dad will find strong female role models for his daughters and sons for the same reason. Kids need to see the range of gender to be whole and healthy, and parents of either sex can provide exposure to this range in a variety of ways. Fundamentally, I think the keys to good parenting include honesty, patience, a sense of humor, good boundaries, and lots of love. And none of these qualities are gender specific. So here's to good parenting, in whatever form it takes.


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