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Daddy Daycare?

Sometimes fathers really do know best


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America's love affair with Britney Spears has officially ended.

The belle of the ball has demolished her reputation with bizarre behavior, criminal acts and public displays of her private parts. Lemony Snicket "ain't got nothin'" on the former Mrs. Federline, a fading star in desperate need of therapy, Jesus or both. Recently, Ms. Spears lost custody of her two sons to her infamous ex-husband, Kevin Federline aka K-Fed (or as I like to call him, Goldie). Britney has managed to help a gold digger, who left his pregnant girlfriend to become Mr. Spears, sanitize his image to that of "father of the year" by virtue of being compared to Ms. Spears who is clearly having a nervous breakdown publicly.

What is interesting about this situation, since I really don't give a damn about either of them, is the dialogue that has emerged surrounding these events. Pundits discuss the "downfall" of Britney and how the loss of her children should either motivate her to do better or to "get herself together," when it is clear that Britney did not want these children. Clearly she thought that she was in competition with Shar Jackson (K-Fed's ex) and thought the best way to compete and to keep her husband was to have his babies. What she found out, like most women that try to "trap" men into being with them, is that -- in fact -- it is the woman that becomes "trapped."

While Mr. Federline did his "rounds" in Los Angeles and Las Vegas during their marriage, Britney was at home with kids that she obviously never wanted. That may seem harsh, but she was given ample opportunities by K-Fed and the courts to clean up her act in order to maintain custody of her children, and she did the opposite of what was asked of her. She even skipped a hearing to discuss the terms of the "new" custody "agreement" to go to the beach with friends, which means that she is either certifiably insane or disinterested in being a parent to her children ... or both.

What is being discussed as the "worst" thing to happen to Spears is probably the best thing to happen to those children, which is being placed in the custody of K-Fed, who appears to have matured and accepted his responsibility and role as father. It is interesting though that people do not seem to be as concerned about K-Fed being photographed a few times a week at various parties and industry events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas as they are about Britney; probably because of the mistaken notion that women are superior caretakers than men, which is not always the case.

Men can be loving, caring, nurturing and competent. Unfortunately, our culture makes a habit of talking about men as sidekicks or back-ups in parenting, when they are perfectly capable of being leaders and active partners in parenting. If men can learn all of the stats, plays and schedules for whatever collegiate or professional sport with which they are obsessed, they can learn to change diapers and stick to a feeding schedule.

In our popular culture and popular imagination, only a mother truly knows how to raise children, which probably is a ploy to keep women chained to the household and errand track instead of having the freedoms that many men are allowed on a regular basis. Even Hollywood has historically painted the picture of fathers as "bumbling idiots," who cannot manage a household or children without the aid of a woman.

Of course, there have been some exceptions, primarily in television with Father Knows Best, My Three Sons, Bachelor Father, Full House, Andy Griffith, My Two Dads and most recently Two and a Half Men. But many of these shows feature a strong female lead who aids and assists the fathers with the "raising" of the children. In film, "father as imbecile," is a running theme as evidenced by Daddy Day Care, Cheaper by the Dozen and Big Daddy. In the recent film The Game Plan, however, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays a jock who discovers the importance of fatherhood when he is united with the daughter he never knew. Sappiness aside, the theme of the film was great -- when given the opportunity, fathers can thrive and be great parents to children.

Our culture needs to stop assuming that all women are fit to be mothers. Does anybody remember the name Susan Smith? Is anyone paying attention to the number of women that would rather kill their children than to raise them? Women are under a lot of stress to try to be the "dynamic mother" that society expects them to be, even when it is not in them. Like Ms. Spears, some of these women crack under the pressure and do bad things, and she has nannies. Perhaps she is not the best example, but her situation is. Sometimes father's do know best and are the better parent for a child. If more men are willing to step up, and more women take a step back, then many men will discover the "dynamic fathers" that they are meant to be.


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