Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has used Father’s Day to drive home a tough message on absent dads: he says they should have the “full force of shame heaped upon them.”
Cameron is writing in the Sunday Telegraph, where he defends traditional family life as “the cornerstone of our society.”
Cameron wants runaway dads to be looked upon the way drunken drivers are – “people who are beyond the pale.”
He adds: “They need the message rammed home to them, from every part of our culture, that what they’re doing is wrong – that leaving single mothers, who do a heroic job against all odds, to fend for themselves simply isn’t acceptable.”
Praise for single mothers is being seen as a major departure from the values Tories were criticised for last time they were in government, in the 1990s, when lone mothers were stigmatised.
The Telegraph story continues: “He called for a new drive to ‘bring fathers back into the lives of all our children’ and praises his government’s ‘family friendly’ reforms – including flexible parental leave from work, benefit changes and more financial help for relationship support – as a step in the right direction.”
Cameron’s Tories – who have for the past year been in coalition government with the Liberal Democrats – are not the only party to want to come down hard on absent dads: Labour, too, when it was in power till May 2010, announced various crackdowns.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Matthew Tully, writing on Indystar.com, says to absent fathers: “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
He goes on: “It’s so common in some schools that I’ve noticed that when teachers send forms home with students, they instinctively tell them to ‘have your mom sign it.’ They assume there is no father in the house.”
He says it’s a devastating problem in the heart of cities such as Indianapolis. Absent dads, he says, can “crush a child’s spirit and contribute to academic failure.”
President Barack Obama was just one kid without his dad from the age of two, when his Kenyan father left the family home. He says he still thinks about how things might have worked out if his father had not left his family.
“I felt his absence. And I wonder what my life would have been like had he been a greater presence,” he said.