Dear Sir Michael Wilshaw,
I understand the thought process behind “absent fathers are a leading factor in why children turn to knife crime” – but I don’t accept it.
In that one statement you blame separated parents collectively. Fathers for not caring enough and, in turn, mothers for not doing a good enough job raising their children as a result of becoming a single parent.
If this were the case, wouldn’t all children with absent fathers be turning to a life of crime? They’re not. Why is that?
Is it because so many other factors come into play? Education, financial circumstances, an end to stop and search, less police on the streets, attitudes towards police, lack of youth clubs, care in the community…
Absent fathers. Absent is an emotional adjective for me. I feel we just assume all fathers who no longer have involvement in their children’s lives is through choice. I know, first hand, this is absolutely not the case.
Fathers have very little rights when it comes to their children. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of pounds to spend years in court trying to fight for the right to see your child, and unless the mother wills it, then you will not have access to your child.
As a father you’re guilty until proven innocent. You’re a second class citizen in terms of parenting. As a father you have to prove your ability to be a father whilst residence, power and control is left solely with the mother. Probably one of the biggest displays of sexism often not spoken about when we’re fighting the fight for feminism.
Now I agree with you, if you are a child whose father has chosen to have nothing to do with you and your life, it will absolutely cause emotional trauma. But we cannot just end it there and say “well, there you go, he has no father, that’s why he did it.”
If we know a child is struggling with their circumstances, don’t we have a responsibility to make it our issue as a community? Do what we can to interject and give that child a sense of belonging before a gang does? How are gangs getting there first? How are children so unhappy they’re seeking out comfort and stability in a gang? It cannot just be “absent fathers”.
Ultimately I don’t have, or pretend to know, what the answers are to ending knife crime.
However I do know that by blaming single mothers and absent fathers all we do is further wedge a gap between those who need solidarity and support the most. Blame is not the answer. Finding a vulnerable group of people to pin this on isn’t helping.
We already feel guilty enough as single parents. Society tells us that by not staying in our nuclear family we are causing social and emotional problems for our children – without being told our children are more likely to become killers.
I appreciate your passion and want to end knife crime. We are all on the same page. So can we please get to working on fixing the problem instead of finding someone to pin it onto?
P.S. To all of you single mums out there facing the worries of raising children without a man in the house with or without an 'absent' father – you’re doing an incredible job.
Don’t let anyone make you feel even more guilty than you may already be feeling. We are all just doing what we can and what we believe is best and there really is no perfect scenario.
I mean, honestly, my boys were peeing sitting down for quite some time before they realised the revelation that is stand-up-man-peeing haha. It definitely does make a difference, even on the smallest of issues, having a man around the house.
But a good male role mode can be an uncle, a granddad, a teacher or a best friend. Lots of men are incredible fathers, even if they’re not the father of your children or to any children.
As long as you unconditionally love and care for your children then that is enough.
Last week Stacey revealed that, like many mums, she wets herself when she laughs too much or gets on a trampoline.
She also revealed that boyfriend Joe Swash comes last in her life.. and she's not sorry.
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