'Stories of Fatherhood - in the past and present'
Do we turn into our parents? How modern is the ‘modern dad’? How much does fatherhood differ across different countries in Europe and beyond? What does it mean to ‘become’ a dad?
All these questions were addressed in the performances and panel discussions of ‘Our Fathers’ by Babakas. This took place at Warwick Arts Centre on 12th and 13th June 2012, and I had the pleasure of chairing debates afterwards with panellists from a wide range of backgrounds, including research, dads’ groups, and fathers themselves. The performances of ‘Our Fathers’ were absolutely fantastic – and the audience both laughed and cried on learning about the different emotional stories of the performers and their fathers. The panels teased out a number of themes that emerged – considering whether how parents preserve a sense of self beyond parenthood, why what we call our fathers matters, how our own parents’ style of parenting will always influence us, and whether ideas about fatherhood cross different cultures and societies.
This month also saw the publication of our poetry pamphlet, in collaboration with Nine Arches Press, featuring eighteen new poems about parenting and family life from a group of Midlands fathers. Again, the poetry demonstrates the wide range of emotions felt by these fathers, and the poems are funny and engaging, and also poignant and touching. You can download a copy of the booklet now.
It was also Father’s Day on Sunday 17th June, and the wide range of experiences which have emerged from these different projects fittingly told of the different meanings of fatherhood. All of these creative accounts of fathers in the past and present are a fitting tribute to men who have done their best for their children – and also to all those men and women who have taken on the father’s role for those children who don’t have dads. And perhaps that’s the key message here – in celebrating fatherhood, we should also be aware of its diverse forms, and the many shapes of the family that come about as a result. Whether a family includes two dads, two mums, one parent or three parents, we should be celebrating the many sacrifices those hard-working parents make for their children!