Flicking back through some old posts the other day, I spotted one titled ‘Teenage Angst has paid off well’ from the Nirvana song, ‘Serve the Servants’. It bought to mind another lyric from the same song, “I tried hard to have a father but instead I had a dad”. I’ve always assumed in Kurt Cobain’s definition a father is someone who is there for and cares for their child, whereas a dad is a biological parent but nothing more.
Of course, by this definition, I’ll be a father. What’s more important to me is to be a good father, whatever that might mean. Recently I’ve been thinking about the disparity between what it takes to be considered a good father and what it takes to be considered a good mother. As a father, it feels like the expectations are low, and that every positive thing you do increases your standing as a good father. As a mother it seems the expectations are so high as to be impossible to meet, and every ‘bad’ thing you do (which seems to be anything which anyone in society disapproves of or would do differently) brings you closer to being a bad mother.
Whilst it is great that many fathers are a lot more involved in their child’s upbringing than was the case a generation or two ago, we still have a long way to go. It seems that you can be thought of as a good father simply by spending a little time with your child and doing your fair share of nappies/feeds/baths etc, which should be the absolute minimum any father does. I have no real idea yet of what being a good father will require, but I hope to aim a little higher than that.