Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I’m not sure how, but I recently came across the following article on David Beckham:

Honestly, I’m not much of a soccer fan unless my children are on the field.  And I am aware that Mr. Beckham is married to and has kids with one of the former Spice Girls, but I don’t follow celebrity “news” closely, so I don’t know much about their family.  Nonetheless, I somehow came across and read this article, in which Mr. Beckham’s post-soccer plans were discussed. 

Admittedly, it was a strange article.  It is based upon Snoop Dogg’s discussion of Mr. Beckham’s plans based on private conversations the two friends have had.  I must confess that for a variety of reasons, I’m not a fan of Mr. Dogg.  I admit I’m not terribly familiar with his work, so perhaps I’m being unfair.  I guess I have trouble getting past the associations with drugs, violence and sexualization in his media persona.  But perhaps that is all just hype and he is a great guys.

Anyhow, the article above was about how (per Mr. Dogg) Mr. Beckham wants to devote himself to his kids full-time and even have more kids when his soccer career is eventually over.  Apparently, Mr. Beckham had told Mr. Dogg he would “love to be a stay-at-home dad” in the future.  The thought is that Mr. Beckham’s wife, Victoria, could devote more of her time to her clothing labels while Mr. Beckham is “staying at home and making the breakfast and changing the diapers.” 

Mr. Dogg commended Mr. Beckham for being such a “passionate father” and for “keeping it real for all fathers out there.”  The article concludes with the author, Ben Maller, indicating: “All things considered, with a reported net worth of more than $200 million, Beckham can afford to retire as Mr. Mom with many more children.”

I don’t know the Dogg or Beckham families, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of the information in the article.  But I thought several aspects of this article were interesting.

First, it is apparently “news” that a father wants to spend more time with his children.  That seems unusual to most of us, maybe even odd.  Lots of moms want to spend more time with their kids.  That seems to be expected though.  In our culture, we don’t necessarily expect a dad to want to spend time caring for his kids.  The unspoken assumption seems to be that fathers should be accomplishing things with their time, not investing it in their families.  What does that assumption say about our culture?  What does it say about our values?

Second, per Mr. Dogg, being a stay at home parent seems chiefly to involve “making the breakfast and changing the diapers.”  I am not picking on Mr. Dogg.  I suspect that he is actually representing the view of many people in our society when citing tasks like those first in a quick brainstorm of the responsibilities of a stay-at-home parent.  That is interesting.  Those are fairly ministerial tasks.  Rich folk like the Doggs and Beckhams can hire someone to cook breakfast and change junior’s diaper.  Heck, less affluent folks effectively do the same when they send their kids to day care.  To me, that is not the greatest value of a caregiver.  You can feed someone and wipe feces off their butt without caring about them as human beings.  To me, the real value of parents or any caregiver is investing time in a child.  Making them feel loved by listening to them, engaging them, playing with them, and teaching them. 

Third, I thought Mr. Maller’s closing statement about Mr. Beckham being able to “retire as Mr. Mom” was very telling.  For those who don’t know, Mr. Mom was a 1983 film by John Hughes starring Michael Keaton as a dad who lost his job and became a full-time caregiver while his wife resumed her career to support the family.  It was a silly comedy about role-switching adventures when husband and wife exchange traditional roles.  It was such a crazy concept at the time: a husband staying home to clean the house and take care of the children.  Wild stuff!  But that concept is still so novel that almost 30 years later, when a father contemplates staying home to care for his kids, this silly film is still referenced. 

Further, Mr. Maller’s phrasing suggests that being a caregiver is not a sufficient enough vocation for a primary career.  Being a full-time caregiver is something you retire to—like playing golf or taking up crafts.  It is essentially a leisure activity.  It is not important.  You do it only after you are finished with your “real” career.  (Kicking a ball around a field is clearly so much more important than raising children to be happy, well-adjusted adults.)

I find these attitudes interesting and telling.  They are really insightful into tragic societal attitudes about caregiving in general and fathering in particular.

Psalm 94:6
They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless.

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