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(en) UK, AF, Organise #60 - FATHERHOOD - Or, some mad rad dad rants

From ManchesterOldham AF <anarchist_federation@yahoo.co.uk>
Date Tue, 27 May 2003 22:01:41 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

> Full pdf or html version available at www.af-north.org/organise.htm
Children, the most joyous, innocent and playful
people, in my humble opinion need not just 'equality'
with adults, but often in today's 'civilised'
societies, children should take priority over adults.
Children obviously need to be cared for and they need
to be nurtured; most basically they require love, and
lots of it. You certainly don't have to be a parent to
know that, but to fundamentally understand it in
principle helps a lot. The word father was never in
my vocabulary prior to becoming one, for a variety of
reasons. The word father sounds distant, formal and it
implies hierarchical authority: father figure, head of
the family, Our Father Who Art In Heaven. I'd never
used the word father and I'd certainly never thought
about any concept of fatherhood. How badly prepared
the male of the species is for one of life's greatest
gifts. Volumes of books have been written upon
fatherhood exploring many issues. Recommended is:
"Fatherhood Reclaimed" by Adrienne Burgess which gives
an empathic perspective to the subject. With men
particularly de-sensitised to the core, parenting is
still for many little more than a duty-bound,
long-term chore, bringing with it a compulsion to work
and a financial liability with no payback. The idea of
totally giving ourselves to our kids, playing with
them, listening to them, learning from and with them,
requires comprehension that totally overcomes
conditioned masculinity (and conditioned femininities
too). Both sexes are equally capable of transcending
'father absence' and -just as important- 'mother
dominance' if only the effort were made.

The overwhelming majority of men do not begin to
struggle to be 'new' or PC; why should they? Yet the
status quo portrays men as self-absorbed,
authoritarian, workaholic, drinkaholic, football
crazy, emotionally untouchable, fevered egos. A
recipe for disaster that currently has to be dealt
with and then cleaned up afterwards as best as can be.
There is urgent need to understand and acknowledge
the extent of the uneven deal that men frequently
receive. Most men miss out on so very much, competing
endlessly and aggressively, wrongly asserting how
'right' we are. We speak only of absolute facts all
the time, with a tendency to beat ourselves (and other
people) up, physically and mentally, much of it
verbal, often violent. In reality men are fallible,
vulnerable, emotional and do possess all the
capacities for empathy and compassion. One outcome
of conventional parenting/educating is that two to
three children are killed every week in this country,
usually by a parent! Care homes for the most
vulnerable kids are increasingly found to be riddled
with child abusers... The parents who think they are
doing the best by their kids by giving them
'everything'. It seems much more likely they are
taking everything away from them, profoundly denying
their true identity. Children in consumer societies
are abused in a wide range of ways. So many discarded
children with a distraught Planet Earth unable to meet
their needs. The necessity some people feel for
assuming power and control to suit their egos results
in gross imbalances throughout our lifetimes.
Consequently every interaction, communication and
intimacy is likely to be affected. There is a
desperate global need to transcend all oppressors,
authoritarians and control freaks. The human race is
suffering great collective illness, nature made sick
and requires healing ... Only with a substantial
authentic 'equality of parenthood' can the foundations
for putting an infants best interests first and
foremost ever be implemented. Association and
discussion are every bit as essential as loving is for
children. And we need to deflate our adult egos, if
we are to deliver what some of us preach, the primacy
of children.

Where does 'parenting' stop and 'educating' start?
It's a complex, grey area, and perhaps they are even
the same thing. Most parents 'home educate' until
they send their kids off to school ... It seems the
secret to 'successful' parenting is to go all out to
really be oneself. Not always easy, at times
incredibly difficult. How few people really know
themselves, whilst truly loving their friends, family,
extending to the broader environment they live in, the
world at large? It's tough trying to maintain daily
contact with every little feeling and emotion, even
after years focused trying. Maybe the revolution of
everyday life is the everyday life of
revolution...(hmm). Becoming a parent can present the
future in a clearer, brighter light. I want to
suggest being a caring parent is deeply rooted and
revolutionary, as starkly amazing as any other aspect
of life. Thoughtful contemplation and the practise of
fatherhood (growing together respectfully and
sensitively) could eventually become a full frontal
challenge to patriarchy, the regulation male
domination of everything, power, organisations, wealth
etc. Looking after babies and children could play a
direct part in changing societies towards harmonious
(complex, chaotic, creative, co-operative) fulfilling,
gratifying natural spaces... The world over is
seeing through the redundancy of the capitalist
system. Observe at first hand its continuing
failures: legal murder (wars), persistent harangues by
hideous leaders with fingers twitching on nuclear
buttons. Why shouldn't we dare to consider
alternatives? Apathetic/crushed/damaged/sore people
could help quicken the beginnings of new communities
that people might want to live in...

After years of routine-type meetings, demos etc
there's a feeling of being less restricted, less
robotised as a militant now I'm a dissident dad.
Often preferring now to work with women and have
female friends, I relish the distance from
conventional militancy - competitive, aggressive egos
struggling for status, dominant influence,
'non-hierarchical' leadership. Elites of un-powerful
power-mongers, blindly critical, guilt-tripping,
regurgitating and putting people down, rarely offering
useful, constructive, positive and healing remedies of
any variety or substance. Empathy, sensitivity,
compassion and a rational determined reverence for the
remarkable variance of life or continue with hastening
degradation? The lunatics are running the asylum, they
care nothing about the multitudes of common people as
they threaten to press buttons that could end
everything we 'have' and have known. Maybe there
never was any hope in these environments where free
will and up-front equality might never be even vaguely
considered, never mind 'understood' or realised. Same
old shit.... Until all are free, everyone remains in
chains, physical, mental, spiritual. Men and a few
women might have a lot to lose, yet humanity and
nature have everything to gain. The current fetish
for 'freedom', 'justice' and 'equality' are horrific
in actuality and worse in result: women copying
'successful' men and claiming equality. How sad,
demeaning and utterly vulgar. All oppression becomes
more firmly fixated, more stagnant, more engulfing.

It seems basic gender equability is very rarely openly
talked about, except for some crazy, unconventional
anarchistic type people. If adults got to really
know themselves intimately, to understand the damage
incurred and recognise a need and desire to heal and
visibly move forwards, then could begin the
transcendence of this de-sensitised humanity. In
becoming re-sensitised we will endorse ourselves,
making it impossible not to love and care for all
children everywhere. Perhaps in an ideal world all
adults would care passionately, would relate like
parents to every child. Wow, how does that sound? All
those caring, nurturing, multiple influences ...
Nobody with love to give yet living lonely lives,
isolated and unsupported. Nobody need ever work at
looking after children because of the accident of
birth, if they were not up to it for whatever reason.
No more obligation. Everyone gains, adults, kids, the
planet and the phenomenon that is LIFE.

So much can be learnt from children. Play has
phenomenal learning potential, yet today it is
seriously undermined, as is the inventiveness of
questing children. Where does 'play' end and the
process of 'learning' start? To help children to play
freely we must start to comprehend ourselves as
adults, what has been hurt, warped, damaged and/or
lost in each of us, men and women. With a healthy
support network of friends, family, and perhaps
therapy, counselling or yoga, massage etc we could
re-adjust perspectives against the enforced
mainstream. Then we can begin to do justice to the
children and inspire through our "being", our
selfhood, with children. We can learn to play again
amongst ourselves, and could perhaps for the first
time really learn how to learn... If we dearly love
our children, if we were to respect our "partners"
past, present and future then things will change. We
can undoubtedly all grow every single day of our
lives, the potential profound. If we don't sacrifice
our kids to the horrors of establishment schools and
instead home educate them, if we take children
seriously and make efforts never to coerce them
chances are good they will develop into centred,
rounded, creative, co-operative free-thinkers. Those
free-spirited kids could live their lives as they
choose voluntarily, respectfully and virtually
spontaneously. Rich, deep, fulfilling, whole lives,
with inner and outer peace for themselves, each other
and all of nature ... an ideal worth striving for?
Jason Healey

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