Who's Fit to Be a Parent?

By Mukti Jain Campion | Go to book overview

13

Lone fathers

HAVING A BABY WITHOUT A WOMAN

In Sweden of today where marriage is a fast disappearing institution and where women are shunning emotional commitment, there are a growing number of men like Jonas. Unable to find a woman to share their lives, they are experiencing a yearning that has traditionally been felt by single childless women: they ache for a baby. Jonas has found a solution. 'I have a friend who will bear my child for me'. The pair like and admire one another but they are absolutely not in love. They will not live together after the birth….

Jonas easily imagines taking care of the baby on his own and he fantasises openly about being a father. 'There is nothing better than holding a baby in your arms. That feeling beats everything. I have a dream that if I can have a little girl I would teach her swimming and then in the wintertime I'd teach her to ski. It would only be the two of us and I know already how happy I would be. I think it is OK to produce a baby this way.'

(Jessica Davies and Maria Scherer, Daily Mail 9/5/91)

In Sweden, men have been sharing the parenting role for long enough for society to find it acceptable that they should also wish to be fathers alone. But in Britain as in most countries, despite some shifts in attitudes to male/female roles, lone men are still at the margins of what is considered appropriate material for fit parenting and this has a direct effect on those lone fathers who do exist as well as on those lone men who want to become fathers.

The lone man is seen at best as incompetent in the home, at worst a sexual threat to his children. Physical care of a child, as opposed to just providing sperm, has never been seen as the sine qua non of fatherhood. Their biological role has been to inseminate as widely as possible and therefore the common perception is that they are only held in tow by the combined efforts of the mother of their children and societal pressure but, if they could follow their natural urge, they would pursue an unfettered and promiscuous wanderlust. Thus, unlike mothers, the biological and social roles have never automatically gone hand in hand. Few men have lone fatherhood thrust upon them (i.e. through being widowed or deserted by the mother) and traditionally, few have demanded more than nominal

-217-

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Who's Fit to Be a Parent?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Parents on Trial 5
  • 1 - The State Versus Parents 7
  • 2 - Other People's Children 38
  • 3 - Parents Apart 63
  • 4 - Playing God 96
  • 5 - Key Themes from Part I 117
  • Part II - Parents on the Edge 129
  • 6 - Disabled Parents 133
  • 7 - Mentally Handicapped Parents 151
  • 8 - Drug Addicted Mothers 168
  • 9 - Gay Parents 177
  • 10 - Teenage Mothers 189
  • 11 - Older Mothers 197
  • 12 - Single Mothers 205
  • 13 - Lone Fathers 217
  • 14 - Working Mothers 225
  • 15 - Black Parents 239
  • 16 - Key Themes from Part II 261
  • Part III - The Job Description 269
  • 17 - The Ideal Model and the Actual Model of Fit Parenting 271
  • 18 - Implications of the Actual Model of Fit Parenting to Assessment 281
  • 19 - Looking Forward 300
  • Bibliography 303
  • Index 309
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