Sometimes when you ask a man who grew up without a father about his dad, he will immediately talk about his mother. He’ll talk about her strength and her sacrifice in having to play both roles. Sometimes he’ll even say that she was so good at it, that he didn’t know what he was missing.
Not Anderson Cooper. In his 2006 book, Dispatches from the Edge, he wrote:
“Sometimes I wonder if I’m the person I was born to be, if the life I’ve lived really is the one I was meant to, or if it is some half life, a mutation engineered by loss, cobbled together by the will to survive.”
Yesterday, on his new daytime television talk show, he interviewed his 87 year old mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. Now, apart from his infectious giggle, this serious news anchor is usually pretty composed. What brought tears to his eyes on this day were memories of his father, who died when he was 10, and specifically, his mother telling him his dad would have been so proud of the man he became and his accomplishments.
The interview also covers the suicide of his brother.
Some people like to criticize Mr. Cooper for aspects of his personal life he doesn’t talk about but I think it’s more important that he has never shied away from discussing his father and brother and the impact their loss has had on his life. It takes courage but it helps others in immeasurable ways to use your public platform for the good.
Watch the show here.
Last month the Globe & Mail had a series of articles on so-called failing boys, causes, solutions. One reaction to the series was by a young, Toronto student who wrote this illuminating article:
16-year-old: I’m fatherless, black, but no “failing boy”
This insightful youth also contributed an article to the Toronto Star a few years back:
Choices for children with no dads
It’s not a predicament any boy wants to be in, but good to know there is an awareness and some great role models out there for lonely boys.
As part of my fall books preview for the Post Media, I discovered new fatherhood publications that are worth a peek:
Two disparate but important books explore fatherhood and all it means. Fatherhood 4.0: New iDad Applications Across Cultures
, edited by journalist and broadcaster Dalton Higgins, is an anthology of stories that looks at the responsibilities of fathers through African and Aboriginal Canadian eyes.
On a day like today we are inundated with happy, heart-felt stories about fathers and their kids. But it’s important to remember too, that not all relationships have been full of sunshine and light. It’s a tough day for some fathers and sons out there, a relationship that is vital but sometimes rife with complications. Here are a few news stories out this week and today for Father’s Day:
We Need Fathers to Step Up, by Barack Obama
Not all hearts and flowers
Fathers Matter More Now than Ever
TorchWood Editions, ed. by Lynne Van Luven and Bruce Gillespie
Nobody’s Father: Life without Kids
is a new anthology of stories by men who, for one reason or another, don’t have children. It’s a sequel of sorts to a 2006 collection of stories by childless women (sometimes called non-mothers).
was an interesting and I think, necessary piece of literature dealing with a taboo topic in our married-with-kids culture. As a middle-aged woman with no children of my own, I found some stories relatable and some others a little disappointing in their stereotypical-ness. I get annoyed by the protesting-too-much quality of accounts of those of us outside the mainstream. I guess because we didn’t mean to be here and are stll trying to work out for ourselves how just living our own course of life turned out to be alternative, and not all that supported by a culture that, despite its diversity, still only fully acknowleges one way to live.
I rarely get asked why I don’t have children, but that doesn’t stop people from assuming things like, I didn’t want kids, or worse, I don’t like kids, or I can’t have them. Even if I couldn’t, it would be nice to be able to say this outloud once in awhile.
Somehow I guess it’s more acceptable for men to be without children. Our culture doesn’t fully accept yet that men can father. And so many fathers are separated from their kids, some by choice, others by circumstance, or restricted visitation.
Since we rarely ask men how they feel or what they think, it’s very nice to see that two editors have asked and a publishing company thought it was a good question.
I recommend picking this book up. Today’s excerpted story is by Bruce Gillespie
, the anthology’s co-editor. Not surprisingly, it’s on the topic of father-absence.
This is the title of a new book by syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker. I’m reading it now, two chapters in, so will withhold my impressions until I’m finished. All I can say is I understand the impulse to write on this topic and the importance of the book in a culture where it’s ok, acceptable and even preferable to bash the other half.
I don’t know Ms. Parker as a columnist but it seems she is touted as right wing. As a woman who often writes about the some-how controversial topic of why men matter I’m not surprised about this moniker. Sadly.
Surfing around the news today, I found some interesting Father’s Day articles. I think it’s important to remember that there isn’t only one way to live in our culture and many people have lives that don’t fit into what was once considered traditional. Times are changing and most of these articles reflect how that affects men:
For some, Father’s Day is a sad and bitter occasion, Ottawa Citizen
Father’s Day: by the numbers, Toronto Star
Tackling the role of Mr. Mom, Toronto Star
Father’s Day celebrated when dad’s not here, San Francisco Chronicle
Dad’s changing role recognized on Father’s Day, Reuters
Father’s Day Special: What Legacy Are You Passing On To Your Children?, Huffington Post
Obama delivers Father’s day sermon, Washington Post