When I was 5 my parents divorced. My mum went to live with another man who took upon the role of step father. His parenting style wasn’t great. I’ve written about it before and don’t want to focus on that now. I don’t know what growing up with my biological father would have been like because I had limited contact with him after that.
The role of the father.
I think over the last 30 years there has been a shift in the participation of fathers in the role of parenting. I think there are many possible reasons for this.
Perhaps because the traditional roles of stay at home mom, working dad shifted. Fathers were no longer the ones who had limited interaction with the children, they started to take an active role.
Perhaps young men who were born in and after the 70’s felt that they missed out on spending time with their fathers and made a conscious decision to be more present for their children.
Paternity leave became paid in the UK in 2003, with the Employment Bill 2003, and new fathers could take 2 weeks paid leave. Before that you might get a couple of days unpaid leave after the birth of a child but that was at the employers discretion and few fathers took advantage because of the loss of income. This has been further increased and now fathers can take up-to 26 weeks paternity leave, alternatively parents can share the parental leave of 50 weeks (37 weeks paid) when they have a baby or adopt a child.
Perhaps the number of divided families where fathers didn’t live with their children through higher divorce rates or because couples didn’t feel he need to “get married” meant that fathers had to define a role for themselves that was more active.
Whatever the reason it’s now quite normal for fathers to change nappies, do night feeds and be seen to be active in parenting. I, for one, am thrilled by this change.
MrH is an active parent. He always has been. I have a number of friends who, despite being either married or in a committed relationship, often complain of feeling like a single parent.
Father figures, of course, don’t have to be “fathers” they can be males who have significant influence. I didn’t have any of these really. I mean my maternal grandfather was always about but he was stoic, and of the generation of not showing much public affection. When I was a tiny baby I was the closest and most accessible grandchild so there are many stories about him looking after me when my mum went out with my grandmother. There is a picture that was taken of me asleep on his shoulder- he was also asleep. It’s one of my favourite pictures.
The lack of a positive male influence in my formative years has I think affected many things in my life, from self esteem to body image.
Thankfully when MrH entered my life I finally had a positive steady male presence in my life.
Who’s your daddy?
It can sound like a creepy question, but as we explored the world of D/s we met people (online) who called their Doms “daddy”. Initially that seemed incomprehensible to me. I couldn’t imagine wanting to call MrH “daddy” in that way. I mean of course I have used the phrase. Telling the boys to “go ask daddy” and so on but not referring to him as my daddy.
As times gone on and our new roles have evolved and we have settled into them, I have at times felt it wouldn’t be impossible for me to say “thank you daddy”. Now this has nothing to do with sexual play. MrH would react like I’d thrown cold water over him if I called him daddy during sexual play.
I’m referring to the times when I’m broken, when I’m exhausted, or when I’m an emotional wreck. The times when he holds me and I feel safe and protected. The times when he reminds me I’m stronger than I think. When he kisses my forehead and tells me I’m beautiful.
The way he makes me feel then, in those moments, that’s how I imagine I would have felt if I’d had the constant presence of a loving and supportive father. In those moments I could see myself calling him daddy.
Sex Bloggers for Mental Health week 23 is on the topic of Fathers. To see more posts on the subject click the image above.