Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Dad of the Year

So, what did you make of the news that Sir Elton John and David Furnish have been nominated for the 2011 Dad of the Year Awards?

If your view of this annual dad-fest is anything like mine, it was probably utter dismay and disappointment. Because - in selecting the first gay couple - the organisers have at a stroke deprived me of my annual opportunity to moan about the presentation. I mean, last year the winner was Peter Andre. The year before, John Terry. Need I say more?

Well, I'm going to. And not because I want to rubbish the achievement of these no doubt worthy dads. But because the trials and tribulations of fatherhood are slightly different when your annual income is in the stratospheric tax bracket of these and similar nominees. When you can afford all manner of domestic staff and a team of nursery nurses to allow you both to be a great dad and to get your job done, is your achievement really that remarkable? Money might not make you happy. It won't make you a better dad. It won't - as some notable nominees have found to their cost - guarantee marital harmony and longevity. But it'll sure as hell smooth some of the rough edges of parenthood.

I know there are other awards. I know there are dads out there struggling under the most demanding circumstances to hold a family together and - occasionally - they get a little of the recognition they deserve. But the publicity, the accolades and praise that these sleb dads get rarely reaches them. And neither does the wider recognition of what so many thousands of dads up-and-down the country do day in, day out to hold down a job and support a family without the benefit of, say, a Premiership footballer's astronomic salary.

All of which sounds a bit like sour grapes or jealousy. But it's not supposed to. After all, I'm lucky; I've been able to stay at home with Charlie for the last three years and I know many dads who'd love to do the same. And the underlying message that Sir Elton's nomination carries is one I'm personally delighted to endorse. If it does some good for other gay dads, that's great. But I wish, just now and then, that all the other big-name nominees and former winners were people who stood out as dads in some way; who had overcome the odds to be both great slebs and great dads and who could be an inspiration to the rest of us.


  1. It's interesting to see the comparison if you look at the Tesco Mum of the year awards. That list is full of real mums who've battled through adversity and made a real difference to the life of their kids.

    Something the organisers of this award should take a long and hard look at.

  2. I couldn't agree more, Alex. And I wonder why it is that there's such a difference between the two awards...?

  3. "there are dads out there struggling under the most demanding circumstances to hold a family together and - occasionally - they get a little of the recognition they deserve. But the publicity, the accolades and praise that these sleb dads get rarely reaches them..." So damn true and my thoughts exactly when I heard the news. Is this a real vote for a great dad or just a vote to tick a PC box in the media? Ah me; maybe I'm just too cynical?

  4. Tim, I think comments I got to my Comment is Free piece on the Guardians website (link on my blogs sidebar)are illuminating. There is still a perception that dads should be emotionless remote figures and anything else makes you an effeminate waste of space :(

  5. Maybe we all are Steve, because that's just how I feel. On seconds thoughts, isn't it the cynicism of those running such spurious award ceremonies we're bemoaning?

  6. Thanks Alex - I must look that up! And I'm sure you're right about the stereotypical view of dads. It's depressingly common - even among some dads!

  7. Hear hear! Let's hear it for the dads that work hard all day (whether working at home or away at a J.O.B.) and still find the energy to set up the new bike or coach a soccer team, ask their partner about their day, etc. etc. etc.!
    It's not sour grapes to ask for a reality check in all of this, is it?

  8. Well, no Rebecca, I suppose not. And I'm glad you think so too. It's not even that I object to the concept of a celebrity dad award per se, just that the nominees often seem so uninspiring, and the winners chosen for their all-round celebrity value rather than their parenting credentials.

  9. I agree with you. I can definitely see how it would more or less ruin the merit of the award when year after year, it seems to go to somebody who hasn't necessarily struggled with fatherhood.
    On a different note, being a parent is a struggle no matter who you are. I think anybody who makes the effort to raise their kids with a firm but loving hand, who strives to help them make good choices in life, and sacrifices time, money and sanity to teach their children to live in this world deserves the same recognition.

  10. Very well said Nessa. Couldn't agree more. It's the most difficult, most important job we ever do.


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