So, it is Father’s Day! I wish the best of days to all those dads out there who are loving, caring, devoted, exasperated, hard working and emotionally and physically present for their kids. Kudos sent out to you from me. I find myself with a bit of time on my hands this Father’s Day, because our family will be celebrating next weekend – a kind of combined Mother’s and Father’s Day. This is cool, for this year. We had a busy few months and little time to fit all the celebrations and merriment in at the right time and on the right station. But don’t get any ideas dear family of mine. I want my own day next year-no permanent amalgamating of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into Parents’ Day-uh, uh! no way, not having it! LOL!
I woke up this morning to a post from a dear vegan blogging friend of mine who is waxing poetic about fatherhood in our society and culture and how it relates to veganism as well as to our abominable treatment of fathers, mother, sisters, brothers, children and extended family in what we mistakenly like to refer to as the animal kingdom or world . They are not other than, they are animals, like us, just with different features and characteristics. Anyway, the post struck many chords with me, not the least of which are my own thoughts about and experiences of my own father.
When I created this website, I told myself and others close to me that my neither my father’s name, nor image, nor life history would be featured here. This was to be a website about hope, about change, about advocacy and I did not want it to be tarnished with the stories of my father and who he was as a man, a husband and a father. But, I have made an exception today because I would like to share my friend’s post with you as well as my comments on said post.
So without further ado, here it is: from Have Gone Vegan, Some Thoughts on Fathering, June 20, 2015
“Can’t believe it’s been nearly a year already since my dad passed away, and that he won’t be around this Father’s Day. Although, to be honest, he wasn’t around much period while his five kids were growing up, and made no secret of the fact that he had zero interest in parenting. (In case you think I’m exaggerating, each one of my siblings grew up being told that he would leave as soon as they turned 16, and he finally made good on his promise when my turn as the youngest came around.) In spite of this, three of my siblings and I had made some sort of peace with him before he died, and accepted his lack of involvement in our lives as something that wasn’t to be taken too personally. A good role model for being a father he wasn’t, but it could have been worse.
So with Father’s Day around the corner (tomorrow!), and my post on mothering just behind me, I thought I’d take some time and continue talking about parenting. If, as I argued in my previous post, mothering is a role we don’t really value, then fathering is a role valued even less. Sure, we pay lip service to the idea of celebrating the role of fatherhood, but even the holiday itself isn’t emphasized as much as its counterpart. Understandable, as regrettably, raising the next generation is still often thought of as women’s work. Consider again that most men won’t have to figure out how they’ll combine work with child rearing, won’t get asked how they’ll accomplish that feat, and won’t have to deal with the consequences of taking time out of the labour force to raise their kids if that’s their choice. But that career comes first for men is still a given for most.
As I also stated in the mothering post, the qualities of being a good parent — nurturing, protecting, guiding, etc., are not, in my opinion, gender specific, and I think it’s a shame that we’ve allowed outdated stereotypes to determine parenting roles. I’ve long felt that a mature and healthy adult is, for example, strong and sensitive, caring and assertive, rational and warm, empathetic and independent, and to label any of those traits as either masculine or feminine is both silly and limiting. In that sense, I don’t think a child needs both a mother and a father as claimed by those who champion traditional family values, as much as they need an adult in their lives who has the full range of qualities that every grown-up should have. Where it’s helpful to have two adults involved in child-rearing is that it lessens the load, and hopefully provides a role model of what a positive relationship can look like. But whether those two adults are of the same gender or not is irrelevant, and I can tell you from personal experience that my own particular family would have been much better off if it had been “broken” far sooner.
And if mothering and fathering doesn’t get the status it deserves among humans, then the industrial agricultural complex pretty much strips any status for other species. No respect is given to the natural bonds of motherhood and fatherhood, and parenthood is only valued if it benefits humans. Think puppy mills, zoos, aquariums, and of course all the victims considered food animals. A depressing thought indeed.
So once again I want to end with a reference to two of my favourite human dads, who daily give me hope, and who beautifully illustrate what fatherhood could and should be all about.”
And here are my comments on this thought provoking post:
So sorry to hear that your father was not present for you when you were growing up and beyond. By now you know that I do not have fond feelings for the man who called me his daughter. He demanded respect from us rather than trying to earn it. He was domineering, cruel, unloving, demanding, physically and emotionally abusive to us, our mother and nonhuman animal companions…..And yet he could be kind on occasion. I could never understand this. Knowing that he could be kind made me feel guilty about hating him and not missing him when he died. Then my daughter and sister both said to me that he was a bad man who occasionally did good things. These random acts of kindness do not a good man make. I felt strangely better after that.
The way we view fatherhood in this society can be confusing. I am a child of the fifties, a time in which there were very strict rules about who did what in the family. I am not sure how much this strict mode of comportment has affected our current view of mothering and fathering. I do know that my husband did many more things with and for our children than his own father and that my son in law is very involved in his children’s lives. Increased father involvement may partially be a function of both parents working outside the home in today’s oh so busy society-the chores, duties and responsibilities simply have to be divided more equitably. But I do think the global attitude that raising the kids is the mother’s job will take a little longer to completely include the rights and responsibilities of fathers in this regard.
As to whether or not a mother’s love is in thought and deed deeper than that of a father’s, I have no clue! I had a terrible father and am not a father myself. My role model in all things about love was and still is my mother. As a mother, I know only how much I love my own kids and my grandchildren, for that matter.
I am reading an inspiring book entitled, “When Elephants Weep: the Emotional Lives of Animals”, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. The author gives examples of fatherly love on the part of marmosets, owl monkeys, beavers and the kiwi, “ranging from slight to intense devotion”. He states that this direct paternal care occurs about ten percent of the time in mammalian genera. Humans are animals. Where we fit in and how we fit in to this equation is a mystery to me. Certainly many more than ten percent of human fathers love their children deeply, care for them and would protect them with their own lives.
No question that using non humans for our own purposes in the cruelest of ways deprives them of the right to live in emotional freedom, to love their families, to choose how to love and rear their own children. What we, as species, are doing to our brethren is unconscionable.
Annie’s Vegan View
Let us not be complicit in the enslavement, forced breeding, stealing of babies from their mothers, separation of family members and ultimate murder in slaughterhouses, in deserts, in forests, on savannahs.
Let us make kind and compassionate choices about our wants, not needs and give these beings
back to their families.
May all beings be happy and free.
4 thoughts on “Father’s Day, Father’s Love and Veganism”
Brave, brave post. You nailed it all. Cried a bit, yes I did.
Thanks for you.
Brave, brave comment. I cried too! but….the “secret” is out. Thanks back at you.
Hi Anne, thanks so much for reprinting my post! I’m honoured that it struck a chord with you. Just left a comment to your comments on my blog, but will include it here as well:
Hi Anne, although my father wasn’t a great dad, we were still fortunate that he was physically and emotionally absent rather than abusive, and in a sense we suffered more harm from the parent who WAS present, but nonetheless managed to grow up without getting TOO screwed up. Then again, that may have been a generational thing as well, as I don’t think parenting was as scrutinized as it is today.
I, in turn, am sorry for the suffering your father inflicted on you, your siblings, your mom, and household companions. He was not a nice man, and I think your daughter’s and sister’s summation of him sounds spot on.
Strides have been made, thankfully, in the way younger generations parent, and I hope that gender equality (although still far off) will continue to make inroads on institutions like the family.
I’ll have to read that book! Beyond knowing that male seahorses are the ones to give birth and that male penguins take care of the eggs, I really don’t know enough about male parenting styles among other species. Perhaps some of them would even put male human parenting to shame? 🙂
Also want to add that working through or coming to terms with difficult human relationships CAN be a part of change, hope and advocacy for all species, so kudos to you for sharing. 🙂
Thanks for the support. Families can be complicated organisms-no question.
I see so many good fathers in the generation of my children and undoubtedly their were remarkable fathers in previous generations. One bad apple does not the whole barrel spoil. My father had his demons and no doubt suffered greatly in his own childhood, but is still responsible for his actions. We all are responsible for doing much more good than harm, even when the parenting is hard. This goes for mothers as well as fathers.
Let me know what you think of the book if you do get to read it. It is quite interesting, informative and eye opening.