I’m not talking about teenage boys who shoot and leave as it were, and take no responsibility for their resulting child. No, it’s the middle class “explorer” Dads I take issue with, the current poster boy of which is Benedict Allen, temporarily taking the title from Ben Fogle.
Allen is the guy who decided he needed to trek into a remote part of Papua New Guinea through a local war zone, to see if he could hook up with the remote Yaifo tribe. This was a tribe he had spent a week with over twenty five years ago, and, well, I don’t know, did he think they were sitting around wondering what he was up to in the intervening period? Any how off he went, leaving behind his wife, three children and any form of communication. After missing a scheduled appointment some weeks later a helicopter search and rescue exercise was mobilized to bring him home. Thankfully, in this digital age, he manged to film himself suffering from Malaria whilst waiting to be rescued, so we can all share that experience. with him. Ben Fogle similarly enjoys pushing himself to limits in far flung places – although somewhat more safely with a camera crew in tow. Bear Grylls has form in this area as well
I am sure the partners of these men are stoic and capable women who know what they were signing up for. But here’s my message for their men. By all means risk life and limb in remote parts of the world if you will, but don’t have children. It’s a choice; you can’t do both. Children are not a part time activity, they’re a full time obligation. They need parents to be around, and constant. A child deserves to have a father who is present for them. Their lives should not be weighed down with anxiety about whether Daddy will come home or if this the trip that kills them. Having a child means you have to be a grown up, it’s not all about you anymore, someone else comes first.