It’s so important that the way we view fathers, in our society, changes. If we are ever to have true equality between men and women in the workplace, the value and status we place upon those providing childcare needs to be transformed.
Here’s a column I wrote for Eastern Daily Press on the subject, click here for the full piece.
As Father’s Day swings into view once more, it’s essential we recognise that our families have changed. The roles taken by parents are no longer defined by the accident of gender. When it comes to childcare, mums and dads occupy almost identical spaces and its time our culture’s narratives caught up.
I’m a stay at home father. I’m part of an ever-growing group of men taking a ‘hands on’ role in raising our children. We are a very necessary part of the workforce – especially in a culture that claims to want gender parity for anyone climbing the career ladder.
Essentially, dads looking after children are a necessary by-product of mums taking their rightful place in the workplace.
What’s my point?
As Father’s Day arrives, too many of us are worrying about the superficial: “What can I buy for the man who has everything?” Let’s face it, it’s usually socks. Such clutter is placed in ‘that’ drawer with a multitude of similar gifts from down the years.
Instead of token items for dad, wouldn’t it be great if this year we could talk more openly about the role of fathers within our society?
The day of the distant dad has passed – so let’s celebrate the 21st century father.
That’s what they used to say, wasn’t it? Except in my house it was always wait until ‘your dad’ gets home – ‘father’ was a word more associated, to my young mind, with priests and Star Wars baddies.
Let’s unpack all this for a moment.
When I was growing up, ‘Dad’ was a distant figure (both emotionally and geographically) who would return from a nebulous world called ‘work’ and distribute punishment (usually of the smacked-legs variety) when ‘Mum’ had reached the end of her tether with our shenanigans.
These days, life is considerably different for many children (and their parents). I’m a stay at home dad: a phrase that often conjures images of softly spoken, hummus-addicted, Beta males who wouldn’t be considered threatening to a wet paper bag – and our bags are ALL paper, we’re far too right-on to touch anything non-biodegradable. As such, our kids don’t see dad as a distant threat, rather we are treated with the same level of familiarity (and contempt) with which kids have always regarded their mothers…
Here’s a piece I was commissioned to write for Metro.co.uk.
In it I examine my experiences of being severely bullied at school and how they’ve shaped my focus as a parent.
I still remember the whistling in my ears.
A sudden sense of the world being unsteady and the ground coming up to meet me. Landing hard, I was knocked out. Moments later, my eyes opened as several feet walked away. ‘You showed him,’ said an excited voice. The thing was, he hadn’t shown me anything. I still don’t know what I was punched for.
It was my first day at secondary school, and a sixth former (aged 18) had decided to attack this clumsy, naive 11-year-old, excitedly chatting about comics to some mates. My only crime seemed to be being bigger than my aggressor. But, though the size of a man, I was very much a child. This incident was the first of many. Persistent bullying became the background narrative to my school years.”
Here’s a piece I wrote for Mirror.co.uk, giving a guide to the perfect gifts for dad on Father’s Day. The suggestions I gave were (a little) unconventional:
In the course of human history, more arguments have started over who’s in charge of the TV Remote Control than any other subject.
You know it’s true.
So give your dad the ultimate gift: 24 hours of the TV he wants to watch – without criticism. Yes, this may well mean a whole day of football, or West World or Ru Paul’s Drag Race (depending on the dad). It doesn’t really matter what dad watches, what counts is he’s allowed to make the decisions. I’d recommend the kids design a special ‘I’m in charge of the Remote Control’ voucher, to present to dad.
Trust me, he’ll appreciate this far more than the engraved nasal hair trimmer you were thinking of!
It’s that time again. Up and down the country you’ll hear the shrieks as men (old enough to know better) hop around bathrooms trying to staunch the flow of blood after doing their legs a major mischief while trying to shave them smooth. Soon, once 1,000 tiny cuts dry, the same men are dousing themselves in talc and holding their breath as they squeeze into the Lycra outfits that make their professional cycling heroes look like supermen (sadly the effect on most amateurs can hardly be described as ‘super’). Next they’re out on the streets tentatively riding bikes that cost roughly the same amount as a starter home. Who are these fellas? They’re MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) and this is their time. Welcome to the age of the MAMIL.
In my experience, summer in this country is so fleeting that several times I’ve popped inside to make a cup of tea and missed it completely. “What did you do over the summer?” people will ask. “I ate half a bag of Monster Munch. To be honest, I wasted half of the summer struggling to get the packet open.”
OK, so I’m exaggerating – but not much! Summer is an unreliable friend at a party, the type who either turns up early (before you’re ready), late (when the moment has passed, and you’re busy) or not at all. I’m beginning to wonder why we bother inviting summer along at all!
Chris McGuire, Eastern Daily Press
To read my latest column for The Eastern Daily Press, see here.
Did you ever see the piece I did for The Western Morning News about having my legs waxed? It’s well worth a read…
Photos by the amazing David Taylor.
“Ready?” asked Lisa, cheerily. “Ready,” I replied. In fact, I was having second thoughts, but it was a bit late to call it off now. I lay back and the first layer of warm wax was applied to my leg. I’m one of that ever-growing group of unfit men who’ve turned to cycling in an attempt to gain control over their wayward waistlines.
“I don’t look silly do I?” I asked my girlfriend, the first time I squeezed into cycling kit. Her reply was brutally honest. “You’re standing there head to toe in Lycra so tight I can tell what you had for lunch and you’re asking me if you look silly?”