So, what did you make of the news that Sir Elton John and David Furnish have been nominated for the 2011 Dad of the Year Awards?
If your view of this annual dad-fest is anything like mine, it was probably utter dismay and disappointment. Because – in selecting the first gay couple – the organisers have at a stroke deprived me of my annual opportunity to moan about the presentation. I mean, last year the winner was Peter Andre. The year before, John Terry. Need I say more?
Well, I’m going to. And not because I want to rubbish the achievement of these no doubt worthy dads. But because the trials and tribulations of fatherhood are slightly different when your annual income is in the stratospheric tax bracket of these and similar nominees. When you can afford all manner of domestic staff and a team of nursery nurses to allow you both to be a great dad and to get your job done, is your achievement really that remarkable? Money might not make you happy. It won’t make you a better dad. It won’t – as some notable nominees have found to their cost – guarantee marital harmony and longevity. But it’ll sure as hell smooth some of the rough edges of parenthood.
I know there are other awards. I know there are dads out there struggling under the most demanding circumstances to hold a family together and – occasionally – they get a little of the recognition they deserve. But the publicity, the accolades and praise that these sleb dads get rarely reaches them. And neither does the wider recognition of what so many thousands of dads up-and-down the country do day in, day out to hold down a job and support a family without the benefit of, say, a Premiership footballer’s astronomic salary.
All of which sounds a bit like sour grapes or jealousy. But it’s not supposed to. After all, I’m lucky; I’ve been able to stay at home with Charlie for the last three years and I know many dads who’d love to do the same. And the underlying message that Sir Elton’s nomination carries is one I’m personally delighted to endorse. If it does some good for other gay dads, that’s great. But I wish, just now and then, that all the other big-name nominees and former winners were people who stood out as dads in some way; who had overcome the odds to be both great slebs and great dads and who could be an inspiration to the rest of us.