An article by Richard Fletcher in today’s The Conversation suggests that although the amount of time Australian fathers spend with their children hasn’t changed much over the past 10 year or so, Dads are increasingly aware of their important role in child-rearing. It’s something psychologist Steve Biddulph has been saying for years.
My own husband often puts himself through an emotional and time-management wringer to ensure he’s home from work and available to meet the needs each of our 3 children as much as he humanely can. Getting the balance right is tough.
Over the weekend I watched a fascinating documentary which made me think about the role of fathers again. Gypsy Blood is a confronting, violent tale of men raising their sons in gypsy communities in the United Kingdom. The men and boys featured in the film spend their days together: hunting, fighting, talking about hunting, talking about fighting, watching rooster fights and looking after each other and their animals. Even the youngest of the children are trained to box, and are encouraged to fight other children beyond the point of exhaustion. Apparently the men don’t work, and the boys don’t attend school.
Clearly it’s not a life I would choose for my family. And yet I was still struck by the strength of the bond between the fathers and sons featured in the story. What son wouldn’t love to have their father at home and coaching him through activities for the majority of his day, every day? And that’s the power and the danger of it, I guess. When your dad tells you that unless you win you’ll be letting down not just yourself but also your Dad, your Pa, your Uncles and your cousins, you’d be inclined to be your best.
Gypsy Blood, produced by my very talented cousin Robert Wilkins, is available on ABCTV iView until November 4th. Watch it without your children.
[image thanks to anyjazz65 on flickr]