This morning a post on a Pakistani Feminism page caught my attention (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/24/verizon-ad-tells-parents-to-encourage-girls_n_5526236.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046&ir=Women). An article from the Huffington Post had been shared that stated that the tendency of parents to tell their female children that they are beautiful will dramatically reduce their interest in science and maths by the time they reach college. As a matter of fact the article is accompanied by a picture that shows a girl using an electric power drill. It struck me immediately that this is what I spent my childhood doing – with my dad! Americans seem to think that an advertisement for a mobile phone company will be more encouraging for girls to spend time pursuing science than time spent with their father. The really sad statistics are the astronomically high numbers of children growing up without their fathers in the ‘Western’ world. Having myself grown up with endlessly fighting parents I’d be the last person to oppose divorce. But my parents did not divorce because my dad knew that he would lose me, my sisters and my brother in that case. The ‘Western’ family court system is inherently biased against men. While fifty years of Feminism have achieved equality in the work place for women (a formerly male domain), no such efforts for equality have been made in area of child rearing, a formerly female domain. Only through the constant untiring costly work of fathers rights groups and their female allies (sisters of men who have lost access to their children, women whose partner is denied access to children from a previous relationship) is the situation slowly beginning to get better. But so far millions of children have been robbed of their fathers and a fulfilled child hood. While it has been proven that children of divorce who have equal access to both parents develop as well as children from intact families, still very few children get granted the same access to their fathers as to their mothers.
I commented under the share of the article on the Pakistani Feminist page:
“What can be seen on the photo is what I did with my dad throughout all my child hood. It’s what dads tend to do with their kids: adventurous things. A sad statistic is the astronomically high number of girls and boys who have to grow up without their dad as biased family courts bar the father’s access to his children after divorce. There is no greater impediment to a child’s well being than being denied their father. You guys should think twice if you want to copy that Western system.”
This is the reply that I received:
“Children are growing up without their dads because too many fathers are physically or sexually abusive, or abuse alcohol/drugs. The courts are no more biased than any other part of life. And in the interests of integrity lets be real. Violence, poverty, ignorance, sexual abuse, and hunger are all ‘greater impediments to a child’s well being’ than limited or no access to their fathers. And frankly Pakistanis aren’t ‘copying’ the Western system; they’re designing their own.”
While I can guarantee that what the writer is saying about why fathers are barred from access to their children does not hold true for ‘Western’ society from both personal experience and a growing number of studies I would like to hear from Pakistani readers about whether they consider fathers in Pakistan to be a threat to their children and their removal from the children’s’ lives necessary.
The Huffington Post article states:
“The video depicts one girl’s development from toddler to teenager. She wanders curiously through nature, examines the plants and animals around her, creates an astronomy project, and builds a rocket with her older brother. But all along the way, she hears many all-too-common refrains from her parents: “Who’s my pretty girl?” “Don’t get your dress dirty,” “You don’t want to mess with that,” and “Be careful with that. Why don’t you hand that to your brother?” These statements are subtle, but the ad suggests that they can ultimately discourage girls from pursuing traditionally male-dominated STEM subjects in school.”
While I personally like to go wild when I am babysitting children I do agree with Dr Warren Farrell that men and women in general tend to have different parenting styles. Mothers are naturally more concerned about the child’s safety, while fathers tend to encourage children more to test their physical and emotional strength by going beyond their comfort zone. In the podcast linked below Dr Warren Farrell (a couples counsellor and author of many books on women, men and children) talks about these issues.
Looking forward to hearing from former Pakistani boys and girls 😀