Instilling progressive attitudes is like singing the national anthem

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I can remember being scared of imminent fatherhood, such an important role. My father and I apparently met just the once and I’ve felt subsequently that I’ve made a lot up and never been very certain. Maybe that’s a liberating position, maybe that’s what we all do, maybe that’s just how it should be. I would however have wished for a guide, if for nothing other than to disagree with. Can anyone out there recommend a fathering model that’s stood the test of time ?

Thinking upon my eldest’s remarks the other day I can’t help but feel a little disconcerted. Though the “all girls are more stupid” comment” apparently came from his best friend, the rest are his and quite stereotypical, which is odd as in many respects he doesn’t come across that way at all. I’m tempted to think he was glibly repeating playground opinions.

Though I’m not trying to let myself off the hook, in the nature nurture debate I believe nature wins hands down.  Not only do characteristics shine through from the outset, but strong gender differences quickly surface. My daughter loves to make friendship bracelets and carefully wraps presents, yes, to a degree, she is treated differently, but not enough to explain her radically different disposition. The boys only now realise that they are light on birthday offerings for their mum despite Saturday’s dedicated shopping trip.

When I say rearing boys often seems like a process of civilizing wild things preoccupied with teasing and fighting that’s not to say they’re any worse or inferior, that’d be sexist, but they are different.  They are tender and considerate but it almost happens upon them – they seem so caught up in the moment.

A recent, memorable experience came from sitting in an infant school assembly.  When I was a lad assembly was invariably a morsel of moral guidance, “All things Bright and beautiful”, quick Lords Prayer,  and off.  Today it’s a very much more inclusive agenda and the songs reflect that with words and gesticulations about caring for each other, sharing our road together etc.  Again the girls seemed pretty well engaged but a large number of boys looked out of it, casting eyes around the room and doing nearly as well as the Andorran football team does with singing their national anthem.

I think it’s unfortunate  that my kid’s primary school (300) has just one bloke on the payroll, the caretaker.  It’s tempting to think that more chaps involved with early years education would give boys the  role models to engage them and  maybe inspire more progressive thinking.  I also wonder if this lack of men in early years teaching has also been identified as factor with boys’ relatively poor academic performance?

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