Time for another rant! We hear (or at least I hear) a lot about deadbeat dads. I agree that there’s nothing more despicable than a man who refuses to take responsibility for his child.
However, I think our society bears some responsibility in making an environment where this can happen. Here are just a few examples from our hospital stay.
When Wolfe was born, the nurse brought over our “fake” birth certificate–the one the hospital gives you until you can get the official form from the government. My wife, Natalie, put her thumb prints in the reserved space and signed it.
The nurse then asked me if I wanted to add mine too. The problem was, we just had to stick them in a random spot on the bottom of the paper, since there is not a space for the father on the form. I understand some mothers may not want the father’s information on the certificate. There’s no reason the hospital couldn’t have two forms, one with and one without.
While I’m talking about the hospital, a blanket and pillow for dad would have been nice. Have you ever been in a room with a woman who’s in labor (or just gave birth)? They keep the thermostat way down. I kept expecting Han Solo to come riding up and slice open his tauntaun to help me survive the night.
And there wasn’t even a single meal for dad. Sure, Natalie could order as much food as she wanted and share it with me, but it’s the principle that matters. Would it kill the hospital to give me at least one meal during the three days we were living there? Instead, I had to go out and forage around the discarded trays in the other wards. I was lucky enough to have a set of scrubs (due to the C-section), but many dads wouldn’t have any kind of cover and would have to risk the wrath of the ward nurse–or leave to go get food.
Which brings me back to my original point. Throughout the process, there was almost an assumption that dad wouldn’t be around/involved, whether he wanted to be or not. I didn’t “get” to sign any of the fun hospital forms. I didn’t get a spot on the birth certificate. I didn’t get basic creature comforts (but luckily my mother-in-law brought me snacks/blanket/pillow). The nurse did make sure to provide me with a remote, but I think that was just because they really wanted us to watch a DVD about not shaking your baby. In fact, most of the nurses kept asking if I would be there for the night, or the next day when they were doing things like circumcising my son, and seemed surprised when I said I would be.
So if we don’t want fathers to shirk their responsibilities, we shouldn’t make it so easy for them to do so. End of my rant. I’m going to go grill some tauntaun.