So Men Health's recently published a list of what they consider the top ten worst fathers. The line of reasoning was, "Well, even if you aren't perfect - at least you aren't this
bad." The list includes everyone from Michael Lohan
to David Hasselhoff
to Eliot Spitzer
to Woody Allen. It also includes some less well-known folks who beat up their kids' Little League coaches or produce 78 kids (to date).
This is interesting on multiple levels. First, it's good to know there is still some sort of standard for what it means to be a good father. Granted, after this list, the bar isn't too high but if you did the opposite of everything on this list (ie
: care about your kids more than yourself and don't physically or emotionally harm them), you're headed in the right direction.
Secondly, I think Men's Health might have forgotten another entry on the list: the intentionally absent father. Obviously there are situations where a father cannot, for various reasons, play an active role in his children's lives. But in the majority of cases, as difficult as the father's presence might be, a father's absence certainly doesn't make for a painless childhood either. It's simply a different category of pain.
Perhaps we and Men's Health can agree on one point - fathers do need encouragement. Not perhaps from the legacy of outrageously ridiculously bad fathers, but from working on their fathering skills and knowing that their presence is an irreplaceable wonderful benefit to their children!
Today's New York Times carries the poignant story of father absence and reconciliation. Noted French Laundry chef Thomas Keller was only five years old when his father left his family. Years later father Ed and son Thomas started a relationship that had been basically nonexistent.
When the elder Keller had a serious car accident that left him paralyzed, Thomas Keller and longtime companion Laura Cunningham embarked on a year of care giving alongside their busy lives as food industry celebrities and authors. The impact of that renewed relationship had remarkable effects on Keller's professional and personal life. I'd recommend reading the entire story
, but I found this quote about Thomas and his father's reconciliation quite vivid:"It turns out that genetics do matter. Thomas Keller discovered that he was like his father in many ways, not the least of which was his height. The two shared a strong sense of economy, an appreciation of routine and the understanding of how powerful teamwork can be..."
Oh my. Where do we even start with this one?
How about with TLC, which, by the way, stands for The Learning
So what exactly what are we learning from the Jon and Kate saga? More importantly, what are the eight Gosselin children learing?
This week, Jon was cut from the show and now he is refusing to let film crews on to the property that he and Kate still share.
Well, I suppose TLC has reminded us of the time-tested truth that selfish pursuits like fame and money - pursuits that tempt all of us - can easily tear our families apart. If there is anything we can learn about the Jon and Kate saga, it's to reassess our priorities. Hopefully Jon and Kate will have the opportunity to do just that now that the cameras are off, and, while the Gosselin kids may have to give up exciting trips and photo-ops, they'll have the dad and mom they need.
The Washington Post recently profiled Kenny Anderson
, former NBA star and also father of seven children. The millions of dollars from basketball paydays didn't stretch quite as far as child support payments and Anderson's formerly lavish lifestyle. But on the other side of a finished NBA career and bankruptcy, Kenny Anderson seems to have grasped the really important things:
"Anderson says nothing woke him up to the realities of his new, post-basketball life quite like seeking custody of Kenny four years ago, just as his own career wound down.
"That was the turning point in my life," he says. "He was a big savior. He changed me. I'd never had custody of any of my kids. I was like: 'All right, I got my son. This is real here. I gotta teach him how to be a man, how to be better than me.' Every time I look at him, I look at stability."
Following on the heels of the Brodrick Smith story, Tennessean.com
reports that Vince Young stepped in to be dad to Trenton and Tyler, the two younger sons of the late Steve McNair. The boys' school hosted a Dear Dads event, and Young surprised Trenton and Tyler by showing up and having breakfast with them."Those are my boys," Young told the Tennessean. "I wouldn't say it was to pay anyone back; it was just out of love. Steve would do it for me. He pretty much did it for me when I was growing up. I have a history with the boys and I want to do anything I can. I am their big brother."
The one thing that seems absolutely clear here is that Trenton and Tyler need a father, and Young is willing to make the sacrifices necessary for the boys to have that. We need more dads (and father figures) like Vince Youngs, and not just for children whose fathers have been forcibly removed from their life by violence, but also for those children whose fathers are unable or unwilling to be involved. In any case, kudos to Young - for great performance on and off the field.
Just when we thought we were done grieving the loss of several celebrities (well, perhaps the media will never give up on grieving Michael Jackson), former NFL quarterback Steve McNair's life was tragically taken this past weekend.
As people praise "Air McNair" for his electric performances and thrilling stats, there is another side of the story to look at: the four children he left behind.
Sadly, fact of the matter is, he left his four kids - Junior, Stephen, Tyler, and Trenton - behind long before he left this earth. Like too many high-profile athletes, McNair wasn't the leader he needed to be off
the field. McNair left his family behind in pursuit of his mistress, giving his children a tarnished legacy, a bad example, and a violent separation from their father.
Not surprisingly, McNair himself was raised without a father. It seems as though history is once again poised to repeat itself, as it does so often with father absence.
from the New York Times about Tiger Woods' fatherhood is really amazing. It covers a whole host of issues (marriage, divorce, parenting, father absence, deployment) in a very thoughtful way.
If there is one thing you can conclude from the article, it is that Tiger Woods seems to love being a father. There are several quotes from him that reveal his love for daddyhood. For example:
"I love to teach, and to be able to teach Sam, and as soon as I can, start teaching Charlie a few things, thats fun. I live to be able to do that."
Perhaps the most interesting question the story raises is how Tiger is going to avoid his own father's mistakes. His father, Earl, had a family before he had Tiger, and, due to his long military deployments, he "lost" that family to divorce. Now that Tiger is away for long stretches playing golf, how will he handle his own work/family balance dilemma? Big question ...