Barbara Kay: Don’t sell fathers short: They are as crucial to a child’s well being as a mother | National Post
For a recent web edition of The Walrus magazine, editor-in-chief Jonathan Kay wrote a sympathetic (but not sycophantic) reflection on Justin Trudeau, with whom he spent considerable time in his role as editorial assistant for Trudeau’s 2014 memoir, Common Ground.
“The Trudeau I Know,” reproduced in Monday’s National Post print edition, dwells on the trials of Justin’s youth associated with his parents’ breakup, and his mother Margaret’s subsequently erratic presence in his life. Long after other issues he discussed with Justin had faded from memory, what lingered for Jon were “the stories from his childhood.”
He writes: “It’s one thing for daddy to leave. That happens all the time, sadly. But when mommy walks out, that’s something very different. We are conditioned to think of a mother’s love as the one unshakable emotional pillar of a child’s life. When that pillar folds up and walks out the front door, how do you keep that roof from collapsing?”
I suppose I should feel flattered by Jon’s reverence for mothers, since I am his mother. But I don’t. What Jon admits he has been culturally “conditioned” to believe is a myth it is long past time to retire, especially by family courts whose judges, similarly “conditioned,” skew reflexively motherward in custody battles.
I know Jon meant no disrespect to his own devoted father; he was simply channeling our “feeling” culture’s received wisdom that mothers are the indispensable parent, with fathers cast as inessential, but (with the correct attitude and behaviour) valuable aides-de-camp.
In reality, it is a well-documented truth that the often more overt emotional connection between mother and child is only one pillar holding up the solid roof over children’s healthy growth. Fathers are just as important to their children as mothers, even when they do not conform to sensitive New Man standards.