We wonder why there is so much child poverty in New Zealand. We wonder why the political parties are unable – or unwilling – to seriously tackle child poverty, as successive Governments nibble around the edge, but none dare take direct aim.
But I want to focus this article on Labour’s silly decision to ignore the right of Dads to have equal support vis a vis paternity leave. After all of the left-wing’s talk about equality, it is the centre right of New Zealand politics that actually strikes the right blow. I do have to admit though, National had 9 years to pass this legislation and had the numbers to do it with A.C.T. and United Future on board, but never got around to doing so.
Shutting Dad’s out from the care of their children will just make them feel aggrieved and disenfranchised. The majority of them will bravely soldier own and try to make the best of an obviously unfair situation, but there will be a small number who wonder why they even bother when the proverbial playing field has been tipped against them.
I do personally know Dads who really do care for their kids, take their parenting responsibilities very seriously and take pride in seeing their children grow and I totally salute them. They are the ones we should be helping to balance the field for. The absentee parent who never comes home to cook, who never helps with homework, or plays with them or takes them to sport or music practice is the one we should be looking at with a critical eye – maybe their job is a mess, or maybe they simply don’t value their children. I also know soon to be Dads who are going to be outstanding in their role.
I am very lucky to have two awesome parents who have backed me all the way, told me off when they had to, been there for me when I have been in the dumps (read medical problems)or been short changed by crappy high school guidance counsellors. They have sought to maximize my opportunities, helped me into new activities when I could not quite there myself. Not everyone has an outstanding Mum AND an outstanding Dad – I have both.
Whether Labour intended to or not, they have sent Dads the wrong message. Maybe in time they will see their senses and do something to level the playing field for Dads. If they for whatever reason fail to, hopefully National will not take another nine years to get things right.