Other Dads can be hard to deal with. Some of hardest of all are those who are always on about “these bloody kids”, “let’s get rid of them and go down the pub”. The mild variety of this joke is fine, indeed it is real. We all feel like a break from our kids at times, even if you only have them half the week. There are moments when “ratty daddy” appears and it is best to withdraw for a while to your room or some other grown up space – the loo is good. Twenty minutes with a book on the loo and everything that was about to make you defenestrate your loved ones has gone away. You see the normally annoying behaviour clearly again. So we all bitch about them. But there is a line at which remorseless sarcasm directed at your kids actually becomes something deeper and disturbing – it becomes hate. Some parents hate their kids. In my experience there are two types of child hating men: the disparagers and the destroyers. The disparagers are just as often women. It is a reflex reaction in some over-attentive parents to assume that everything their child does is a little better, sooner, nicer and funnier than the things that other children do. [Except in the case of my kids when this is, of course, all true].
Then there are those for whom their child can do no good, nothing they do is good enough, fast enough, neat enough. It is not a violent reaction. The men go through the motions of caring for their children, but they never praise them. The extreme kind constantly compare themselves to their kids, especially their boys. It is unrelenting, slow, torture. The destroyers use the power of silent indifference. Hunched over their blackberry/newspaper/ cigarette/can of beer, no volume of child noise seems capable of penetrating them. Their indifference is a weapon of destruction. The children shrink away, doing more and more extreme things to break through until a hand or a word lashes out and destroys its target. They might feel remorse after but the pattern reoccurs. This is not a case for the social services, it is a normal parenting reality. And these kids will do the same to their children.