Tag Archives: dad

Support Matters

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I’ve been looking through old photos recently, and they’ve gotten me thinking about the relationship I have with my father. Our personalities often clashed when I was growing up, and in all honesty, we didn’t get along very well. I didn’t particularly care when he moved out, and with regards to our relationship, I’m a lot happier now.

The thing is, my dad just wasn’t very supportive. He had a good relationship with Tara. She was athletic, and a good swimmer, and enjoyed cycling. But my dad just couldn’t accept that I wasn’t like that. I preferred reading and writing and drawing and singing, to going outdoors and playing sports. But according to him, those weren’t valid interests. He tried to push me with my swimming, and criticised me when I never got any better. Not being very good with confrontation, the only way I could bring myself to tell him my feelings about this was to write him a letter – which he promptly tore up in front of me.

Even now that I’m an adult, he still hasn’t gotten much better. He continually grills into me for not having a job (as though I can control the employment market) or a drivers license (as though his teaching wasn’t what scared me off). And funnily enough, those are the only two things he ever asks me about every few months when I see him. Oh, and one other question – whether or not I have a boyfriend yet. Except for the last time I saw him, when he followed that by asking if I have a girlfriend. Which brings me to my next point.

My dad is a huge homophobe. He goes on about how being gay is unnatural and a disorder, and that he could cure it if he had enough money. Whenever Tara or I call him out for it, he says (and I paraphrase) “[he] can’t possibly be a homophobe because [he’s] not scared of gay people, [he] just think[s] there’s something wrong with them, and anyway [he has] gay friends”. Fine dad, you’re being heterosexist. Whatever you decide to call it, it’s incredibly bigoted. Tara once asked him what he would do if she were gay. He scoffed and told her (and I actually quote this time, not just paraphrase) “don’t be stupid, you’re not gay”. He was right, Tara isn’t gay, but that’s completely beside the point. What if she was gay, and his bigoted attitude was preventing her from safely coming out? What if I was gay, and she was trying to test the waters for me? I’m fairly sure the only reason he asked if I had a girlfriend that time was to appear tolerant with my aunt and uncle in the car, as my female cousin recently revealed to them that she has a girlfriend.

If I ever have children, I am going to try my best to be the most supportive parent possible. It doesn’t matter whether they want to swim, or run, or dance, or sing, or act, or write, or draw. It doesn’t matter whether they like men, or women, or everyone, or no-one. It doesn’t matter whether they are a boy, or a girl, or something else, or none of the above. It doesn’t matter whether they want to be a teacher, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or an actor, or a nurse, or a dancer, or a bartender. The only thing that does matter is how they treat people, whether it be other people or themselves. I vow to accept my children for who they are, because I know only too well how much it hurts when even the small things go unsupported.

How is this Progress?

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A long time ago, it was expected of women that when they grew up, they would get married and have children, and that their job would be to stay at home and look after them. Women didn’t have careers – the men were the breadwinners. And for a women to not have children was unthinkable.

Nowadays, we have it ‘good’. Anyone can get a job. When a couple has children, sometimes the mum stays at home, sometimes the dad stays at home. Sometimes both the parents are women, or both the parents are men, so whoever stays home wouldn’t make a difference to that aspect. And sometimes no-one stays home, and it’s a nanny or babysitter that looks after the children.

A friend of mine posted something on her tumblr a while ago. When she was in high school, her class had to write down what they wanted to be in the future. My friend wrote down ‘housewife’, and was promptly criticised for it, even being called lazy.

Firstly, wanting to be a housewife is not lazy. Housewives have to cook and clean. They have to look after their children – watch them, play with them, comfort them, wash them, dress them, read to them, patch them up when they get hurt… And if they’re babies or toddlers, then just add change their nappies and feed them to the list. They have to do the household’s shopping, and with the children at that, making it all the more difficult. That is hard work. Housewives are not lazing around at home watching telly all day. They are being chefs, and maids, and baby-sitters, and teachers, and doctors, and chauffeurs.

And secondly, I thought the days were over when people had things expected of them, and couldn’t make their own decisions about the future? Women may not be expected to be housewives anymore, but that doesn’t mean our lives are playing into people’s expectations any less. Instead of being wives and mothers, we are expected to get jobs, and have careers. Nowadays, being a wife and mother is viewed as secondary, and nothing to aspire to.

I am currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at university, with a major in psychology. Not because I have any huge desire to be a psychologist, but because it is expected of me. Certainly, I find the subject interesting, but I would rather keep my house and look after my children than actually apply that knowledge to a career.

So tell me, how is it progress, when all we’ve done is swap one expectation for another?