Fatherhood: Learning to Change
“The time’s they are a-changing.” Shall we not change with the times as well?
The film Fatherhood (2021) tells the story of Matthew Logelin (Kevin Hart), as he struggles to bring up his infant daughter Maddy (Melody Hurd). Matthew’s wife passed away during childbirth. What’s more, his family and his in laws live too far away to provide any substantial support. Matthew is on his own, working full time, and learning how to bring up a child.
And learn he does! The main character applies his keen powers of observation and insight to categorize and understand the different kinds of “poop” found in his baby’s diaper.
In a moment where Matthew just could not figure out why his baby was crying, the main character turns to a support group of new mothers whom coach and encourage him in the way he should go. In a particularly striking scene, we see Matthew give up on his relationship to other women, because he wants to make sure that his daughter is “first” in all things. There is much to admire about the film and the real person whom the story is based on.
Yet, more profoundly, the film moved me to reflect on our changing times. I recently heard of the trend where more and more labour jobs are being replaced by robotics. Young men who once relied on such jobs, are finding themselves without work, without the dignity that work can provide, and what’s more without purpose.
It was Warren Farrell in his book The Boy Crisis: Why our Boys are Struggling and What We can Do about It who brought to my awareness the need for young men to evolve with the times. He points out that they must learn empathy, social skills, and what’s more, greater interiority around emotions, if they are to adapt to the ever changing technological and cultural climate.
Part of this adaptation may involve dad’s deciding to stay home and take care of the kids as they grow in the qualities of care, warmth, and listening necessary to bring up a child well. Another part of this may simply involve young men learning to take responsibility for their lives and their situations, no matter where they find themselves.
Both lessons we find in the film Fatherhood.
Yes, the times are changing. But perhaps, it is not such a bad thing for all of us to change with them.