This headline caught my eye last month ‘400,000 Women in Britain Do Not Know the Identity of The Father of Their Children. Even more disturbing was the by-line ‘ and around 1.2 million fathers insist they are unsure if they really are the Dad of their sons or daughters.’
Now I know why Jeremy Kylie has become an institution.
Seriously? Are we living in one gigantic, free for all commune? Whatever happened to parenting and responsibility? You may feel I am being a tad judgemental here but I work with vulnerable, troubled teenage girls for a living and let me assure you that lack of or a confused identity is a key player in many of their challenging behaviours including: rebelling, self doubt, self harming, rejection, promiscuity, drug use, truancy, looking for external validation via gangs and crime etc etc. It is important to know who you are and this includes the identity of your father!
Whilst I have no doubt there are some awesome, responsible and inspiring single Mums out there and equally awesome fathers raising other men’s children is this the blue print we want to pass on to the next generation? Children should be conceived in a loving relationship by two consenting adults, who accept responsibility for them for life. Anything less sets them up for some uncomfortable conversations and discoveries as they hit puberty and start to ask questions.
Now I know we don’t live in a perfect world and mistakes happen and most people do the best they can in some very difficult situations, but surely we must strive to be responsible adults? To say ‘well, I am not sure who your father is, he could be one of 3, either an old work colleague, a guy I had a one night stand with on holiday or John who I was with for 3 years but left me for another woman.’ Hardly comforting to a 13 year old who is starting to question his or her self worth and identity and looking for answers?
Children of single Mums have a tendency to become single Mums; children from broken families struggle to sustain long term relationships or do not know how to create one and children from complicated home environments with siblings who have different Dads or several Step Dads and Grand parents as guardians can be lost and struggle with authority figures.
We all grow up with the values imprinted on us from our home environment and our parents, breaking them is a tough job and demands some sort of intervention, many young people will not get this kind of opportunity and so the cycle continues on repeat.
Being a parent is the most important job in our society, until we recognise this and start to value it, change will be slow or non existent and we will continue to see our young people enter a full on identity crisis in their teen years. The strong will survive but what of the vulnerable or the weak?