By PAT JONES
THE new age is pro ducing, so we are on told. a new kind of father, one whose breadwinning task is shared by mother, and who can pin on the baby's nappy with equal dexterity.
The is that this type of
father will be on the increase; perhaps babies should be warned that they will he unlikely to have two utterly distinctive parents, but
two composites, two instead tw "futhers", as it were.
Since most modern phenomena have their good side as well as the more frequently bewailed bad effect. this increased participation of fathers in the task of handrearing their offspring may put an end to the mother who always speaks of "My Mary" and "Ms John", with the single-handed inference the words imply. On the dark side, infants being the slippery, contrary beings they often are, it might result in an increase in the numbers of "only" children.
r 111HE dangers. as the child grows older. are obvious, for familiarity can breed contempt, especially in the field of discipline, and the tenderness needed by the mother to deal with the small child should not entirely be transferred to father. As "Brother Cookie" commented about the small. irrepressible Marcellino "He has to bew afraid of somethintt!" However. his "fear" is of the same kind as is referred to in the phrase "Fear of the Lord", which might be translated into modern English as "healthy respect". If father stands high in the respect of his children, it is often partly because his wife has put him on that particular pillar. and kept him there, not like Art Linklater's friend's wife, who greets door her husband at the do "with a shrill cry of 'Your son has done it again! " The wife thereupon demands summary punishment upon the body of the offender, lockedin his room. The husband builds up a big head of steam, rushes upstairs, unlocks the door, and lets Junior have the first spank. Whereupon there's a yowl from the wife that echoes all over the neighbourhood: "Stop killing my baby, you brute!"
Some day, this will end in justifiable homicide.
WHEN 'NO' MEANS 'YES'
THOSE enquiring into the prevalent crime and unsocial behaviour refer to "faulty day-to-day handling of the very young child". The baby in the High Street, child of a very lovingand gentle father. was being taught that if he was exasperating and disagreeable enough. he would get his own way in the end. and that when father said "No" he meant "Yes, if you make things bad enough for me." If fathers arc uncertain of their vital role. or need a boost to the ego, they should look at the reflection of fatherhood mirrored in "Father of the Family", by Eugene Geissler, father of many. It makes very easy reading. Needless to say the book is dedicated to the mother of the runny. Eugene Geissler is partly humorous, deeply serious, sometimes profound, and at other times indulges in apparently artless reminiscing about his own family.
SANCTITY IN NUMBERS
,FHE chapter called "Sheer Weight of Numbers" should interest anyone with more than two offspring. It begins "What's good about a big family? The big family father sometimes wonders.
"When on a Sunday afternoon a half dozen children ask him all we do?' and at once 'What can
he hasn't six quick, ready and constructive answers. then he wonders. "One answer he might have. but it won't do for all of them. Even if he had two ideas it wouldnt he enough to go round. Children
of different ages require so many different answers . . A father of course believes that he ought to give of himself to his children. but again there is only one of him and that's not enough to go round." That particular father (nine at came the last count) ar sine to the conclusion. "So what's good about a w big family? Father wonders but sometimes he thinks he has one answer: it's a school of virtue for children and a school of sanctity for parents."