Calgary Herald

OPINION

Fathers have become unfairly maligned by society

By Naomi Lakritz
Thursday, June 17, 1999
CALGARY HERALD

Dads are denied access to their children by vindictive ex-spouses, are often the victims of phony allegations of abuse in custody battles and get unjustly lumped into the catchall category of deadbeat dads.

Sunday is father's Day and all the retailers hyping ties, golf clubs and Tilley hats are wishing their customers a happy one. Unfortunately, there's not much for many fathers to be happy about just now, for they have become, without a doubt, one of the most unfairly maligned group of people in society.

Sunday certainly doesn't promise to be joyous for Darrell Trociuk of Vancouver, whose sad story, coming ironically just in time for the annual tribute to dear old Dad, epitomizes the new thinking about paternity.

Dad, it would seem, is not so dear as he used to be.

That was made eminently clear to Trociuk who recently had the bizarre experience of having a judge rule him persona non grata on his triplet daughters' birth certificates, ending a battle that took him to court 15 times in the past three years.

His was a simple quest to have information about himself recorded on his daughters' birth certificates and to make their surname a hyphenated one, combining his and their mother's. To bolster his case - one which would have been thought preposterous in other, gentler eras which we are supposed to sneer at from the lofty heights of our present enlightened one - Trociuk spent $1400 to have a paternity test done.

He said he just wanted his girls to know their family history - an admirable goal but one, sadly, which is not compatible with today's fluid family configurations that blithely exclude Dad with no concern for the impact it will have on the children.

When the triplets were born, Trociuk's girlfriend insisted upon listing her name only on the birth registration form and she appended a strange rider stating, "The father is not acknowledged by the mother."

Why? Did she clone herself? Or was hers a case of parthenogenesis, like that, which occurs in plant and in vertebrate kingdoms when reproduction takes place via an unfertilized ovum?

The only invertebrate here, however, is a spineless justice system that didn't toss her petulant little disclaimer out with the contempt it deserved. Instead, in riding the wave of today's trendy anti-dad sentiment, the court dismissed a father's basic rights and, heedless of what this might mean for the kids, cavalierly negated the paternal half of their family history.

Family history-you know, that little thing that means dad, uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, sepia-toned pictures on the mantle and names put in warm reminiscence to smiling faces in photos taken at the beach. Family history is not exclusively a maternal one. " I have no faith in our system any more, I know why fathers give up on their kids….It's the system beating them into the ground," a justifiably biter Trociuk said.

It is indeed. And it's not solely the doings of the courts, but of a whole outrageous system of thought that perpetuates a rapid anti-paternity mentality.

Fathers are belittled and demeaned by the gratuitous generic label of "sperm donor" stolen from psychotherapy's high priestess, Dr. Laura, and twisted by her anti-family detractors. As shared parenting and men's rights advocacy groups will attest, fathers are denied access to their children by vindictive ex-spouses, are often the victims of phony allegations of abuse in custody battles and get thoughtlessly and unjustly lumped into the catch-all category of deadbeat dads.

They are considered superfluous by the selfishly single who want to have babies and bring them up without the bother of a masculine presence in the house- and, incidentally, without troubling themselves about what effect that lack might have on the children.

As if all that weren't enough, some strident faction or others is forever looking askance at fathers and declaring all men to be potential abusers who are violent by nature.

Ward Cleaver may not be the icon for what fatherhood is about, either, but did the pendulum have to swing so drastically the other way?

Still, it was probably inevitable that the Darrell Trociuks of this world would be made to suffer in the backlash against men that was fomented by the women's movement. Not content with fighting for equality, the aggrieved movement demanded that retribution against males be exacted for a long list of historic oppressions. It's no wonder fatherhood ended up paying a high price.

Nobody seems to notice or care that children are paying an even higher one.

Naomi Lakaritz, (403) 235-7134
LAKRITZN@THEHERALD.SOUTHAM.CA