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The Effects of Sexism and Men’s Oppression on Parenting

Just over two years ago my wife, L—, died. We had been in a close, committed relationship for forty years and had co-parented five children.

After she died, I began to notice something about my relationships with mutual friends. I saw that there was a lack of deep, meaningful connection between us. I realised that I had lived these relationships through L—, that she had taken the initiative in them and I had taken a backseat. I had hidden behind her comparative ease in getting close to people to avoid showing myself, making myself available, and connecting with people.

I then realised that all of that was also true of my relationships with my children (now adults and a young adult). Although I had good, close, loving relationships with them, I had missed out on having the deepest possible connection, and they had missed out on having me as fully as they wanted and deserved.

I realised that I had never taken full responsibility for any of these relationships, that I had unawarely handed a big part of my responsibility to L—. Discharging the deep feelings of loneliness and despair after L— died enabled me to see that I had no choice but to take that responsibility. She is no longer there for me to hide behind.

All of us dads were conditioned, as young males, into giving up on closeness, but I’d never before seen the extent to which men’s oppression, sexism, and male domination can have an impact on our parenting. I’d love for others to share their thoughts on this.

Keith Charlton

Leicester, Leicestershire, England

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of parents

(Present Time 183, April 2016)


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00