Role Model?

As yesterday was Father’s Day in the United Kingdom I started to question the role of the farther in modern day Britain. I will reflect on the changing nature of the family structure and it’s effects on fatherhood. I will conclude by looking at the potential new family dynamics which seem to be evolving within the modern world.

Extended family

The Darling Buds of May


Before the First World War, the extended family was the norm. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived locally or in the same household. The extended family allowed parents to receive support from their their parents; and provided grandparents support from family members in their old age. In the extended family young men were groomed into fatherhood with support from their peers and elder generations.

The main feature of the extended family was a minimum reliance on the state over childcare, benefits and housing. Men were the patriarch figures providing discipline and the majority of financial income. Women were the matriarch figures who raised their children, cooked for the family and looked after the home. The benefits of being part of an extended family included; easy inheritance of property, easy access to job opportunities though nepotism or family run business.

The first and second World Wars were responsible for the deaths of many father’s. While working-class men and common wealth soldiers were fighting in the war British women were required to produce war weaponry in the factories. Many heartbroken British widows refused to re-marry and were left without a male head of the family. The UK government provided the war widows with social benefits to help support them and their children. The war widows essentially became the first large political group of ‘single-mothers‘ in Britain.

The Nuclear Family

The Nuclear Family

During the 1960’s the nuclear family become the norm; men and women distanced themselves from their extended families to become more independent. In the nuclear family both men and women to worked to provide an income for household. The nuclear family allowed women to escape from the full-time role of mother and control how and when they reproduce.

The nuclear family suppressed the dominant position that father’s previously held. Father’s were no longer assumed to be the bread winners of the family. As feminism taught woman that they were equal to men; masculinity was challenged as fathers took on a more hands on role in raising their children.

The Single Family

The Single Family

Due to; mass-unemployment, drug-addiction, fornication, and domestic abuse, many nuclear families fell-apart during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Single-parenthood became the norm in the 1990’s with many women being provided with social housing and benefits to help them raise their children. The role of fathers became practically obsolete due to the legal position held by British mothers as the primary care-holders.

In recent years groups like Father’s 4 Justice have formed to combat the English legal systems alleged neglect of the role of the father. Many fathers struggle to maintain a healthy relationship with their child due to the visiting restrictions placed upon them. Some men are not allowed to be involved in their children’s lives because of their poor relationship with the child’s mother. Many children in Britain do not know who their father is or have not had constant access to seeing their father.

Single Mother 7 Kids

Single Mother On £350,000 Benefits

Some woman have admitted to finding it easier financially to receive state support. Sometimes state support works out more convenient than having a working-class partner in the home ‘Clare Bache with 7 children‘ proves this point. Other women prefer having total control over their child’s upbringing like ‘Single Mothers By Choice‘. There is also evidence from ‘Gingerbread‘ that the benefits system does not support single parents in finding appropriate work.

The future of fatherhood in Britain seems bleak. Men have come from being the breadwinners; providing discipline and balance in the home to being societies free sperm-donor’s with limited visitation rights. MP David Lammy has even pleaded that ‘It should always be fathers day‘ in his pre-fathersday article in The Guardian newspaper.

In the future Britain my become like China with the birthrate increasing and a lack of jobs for men. Test tube babies are now becoming the norm with advertisements on London Underground from the ‘London Sperm Bank‘. English Law seems to have an issue with the role of the father in the family. Women now more than ever have more control over birth control and pregnancy.

Mary Portas

Mary Portas & Pregnant Wife

In the future many of our grandchildren may become ‘designer babies‘ produced in laboratories. It’s very likely that children will be raised by people who are not even their biological parents including; single parents by choice and same-sex households. The role of the father may become just a genetic file of DNA evidence of a time when men and woman produced children without the help of science.

What do you think the future holds? Leave your feedback in the comments section.

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    • Karl Chads
    • June 18th, 2013

    Very well-written article with some salient points. Another angle which deserves a mention is the fact that whilst societal changes have had a huge impact of the structure of families, individual lifestyles are also at the crux of the matter. Some fathers, through their actions, render themselves a waste of time. Certain eternal truths must be adhered to no matter what societal changes are going on.

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