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The Wound Runs Deep

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” could well apply to the team behind the formation of Dads4Kids. Our dream was simply to encourage, resource and inspire dads to be the best fathers in the world for their children. Such projects are easier said than done, but nothing could have prepared us for the hostility to all things ‘father.

Our first TV adverts for Father’s Day 2002 were threatened with legal action by the Advertising Tribunal. Without moral and practical support from pro-family groups such as ACL and Family Voice, the ads would have been taken off the air.

This is the TV ad that caught the attention of the haters, or should I say, ‘the wounded’.

Robert Bly in his seminal book called ‘Iron John’, addresses the depth of the father wound in our modern society in the fourth chapter aptly titled, The Hunger for the King in a Time with No Father’.

Bly explains, “As I have participated in men’s gatherings since the early 1980s, I’ve heard one statement over and over from American males, which has been phrased in a hundred different ways: “There is not enough father”. . .

As we close this chapter on the King and the father, we recognize that we have hit something hard here. The sons and daughters in the United States still feel ‘too little father’, and that is probably not going to get better. . . The more difficult it is to visit the King, the more hungry everyone is. The perceived absence of the father is actually the absence of the King. Addiction does not have to do with Colombian drug lords, but with the absence of the King.”

These words were written in 1990 but are truer today than they ever were. Robert Bly goes on to explain the father wound and how the hostility to ‘all things father’ are only a symptom of a much deeper pain and a longing for what he calls ‘father water’. The father wound runs deep.

Every time we have aired Community Service Announcements supporting fatherhood we have received copious amounts of ‘hate mail’. However we have never been attacked for our Mother’s Day ads, supporting, encouraging and inspiring motherhood. These were aired in 2003 and here, and again in 2006 and also 2007 without a single complaint

Our last TV advert, called ‘Be a Dad’, and shown extensively on Australian TV, was easily the best, but it suffered an ignominious exit and was ultimately banned from playing on air because the son, but not his dad, was wearing a bike helmet. On that one, those hostile finally triumphed and the Advertising Tribunal banned the advert and showed Dads4Kids, and ultimately Dads, the door.

The Dads4Kids current TV advert was crafted with all this in mind and we felt assured that no offence could be found. However, as the comments below show, those who are hostile may well prevail again.

Removing the Dads4Kids Community Service Announcements from our TV screens will not heal the father wound but it might help people to put it out of their minds. The trouble is that the elephant in the room is so big it is hard to get around. Fatherlessness begets fatherlessness, the wound deepens and those wounded become more numerous.

Check out our advert if you haven’t seen it yet, and make your own judgement.

Love Your Children TV CSA

Don’t worry, not all comments are bad. First there are some encouraging comments, but the negative ones are the most revealing.

Dear Dads4Kids

I have just seen your new advertisement and was moved to tell you that I think it is a lovely ad.
It may not make my situation change, but hopefully it will prompt some dads to think about being involved in the amazing journey of parenting.
Mary

What a great ad for fathers! Keep it up 🙂
Carly

I am sure this new ad blitz is causing suicidal conditions throughout the country when you play this ad… There are more dysfunctional families in Australia that are watching TV then there are functional. Please reconsider your insensitivity.
Regards
Sylvania

I am sorry to be writing to any charitable organisation with a complaint, but I don’t understand what your ad is for, except to devastate me every time I see it. I have recently lost my precious father, and this ad leaves me sobbing and totally heartbroken. I am bawling now just writing this. I don’t know what this is supposed to do, but you don’t have to tell fathers to love their children. It’s what they do by definition…I thank you for taking the time to consider this. I do also understand that I was blessed in my life to have the most beautiful father imaginable, and others are not so fortunate, but I doubt writing LOVE YOUR CHILDREN on an ad will miraculously change those people. I appreciate you’re trying, but beg you to take a different route.
Thank you.
Darlene

Where as I realise what your organisation is trying to do, you should be aware that my children get very upset by your new add. It only accentuates the absence of their father, who lives 30 minutes away but never bothers to contact them. I only wonder how many other children out there who have been let down by their fathers are suffering emotionally because of your ad.
Regards
Elizabeth

I have a 5 year old and her Dad decided two weeks after conception that he didn’t want to be a father so he left. When the subject comes up I tell her that she has a dad but he just wants to live on his own and be on his own. She’s happy with the fact that she has a Dad like everyone else but when your TV add comes on I can see the look in her face. That longing to have her Dad to call out to and have a hug from. The only thing your add promotes is rubbing it in to children that don’t have a Dad like the kids in the add do. Try promoting fatherhood in another way. A way that doesn’t hurt the innocent.
Regards
Diana

You people are a joke!!!! I’ve read through your website. I am a high achieving psychology and sociology double major Uni student and an estranged father, victim of a society and social structure in a country that disregards fathers as of not being of any importance or value! I have been treated like I am of no worth! For 5 years and I’ve struggled to get help or attention on the REAL problem of sexual discrimination! Your organization is adding to the sexual discrimination stigma by trying to change the role and ideology of fathers, effectively making them think they are currently not good enough with your garbage! The real truth is that mothers and women are truly the unworthy, unethical, unloving, cold and manipulative variables in broken homes!…
Estranged Father
William

Your ad on TV just had my 8year old child in tears. His dad left us when he was 5years old. He was an alcoholic and my son saw things no child should see. Your ad makes things worse for him. He shouldn’t have to see it while he is watching a lovely happy movie on television. I want it taken off immediately. He has been hurt enough.
Sarah

Oh wow just saw your ad on “Go”. Best ad ever, full stop. You had me at the first “dad”. Just precious.
Marianne

F**k you ‘Dads4Kids’. At 8:30 every night, I am forced to sit here and watch my son go silent whilst he watches some over-dramatised mish mash of b******t about Dads. Yes – there are some great Dad’s out there and I am proud to call several of them my friends. But spare a moment for those kids who want to know where their Dad is, why their Dad doesn’t call, why their birthday card was 2 weeks late…

Joelene

I wish to leave a comment regarding the TV advertisement recently as many children in Australia are unable to see their father’s due to many different circumstances, I speak on my own child’s behalf this TV ad upsets her every time she sees it on TV as she doesn’t spend regular time with her father due to him moving interstate, I wonder how many other children are upset by this ad and feel maybe more consideration could be used for those children when airing ads like these. Thank you,
Elaine

I just want to say that I recently saw your advertisement on TV and it is beautiful and made me smile.
Bianca

My two sons, age 4 yrs 10 mths, and 2 years 3 months, LOVE your ad on TV. Whenever they see it, they stop and stare. It’s the only time they stop. It’s a beautiful spot, and makes them hug their daddy tighter… I swear.
Charlene XXX

Our role is to love those who have responded negatively to the Dads4Kids adverts with grace and understanding. Share their pain but continue to point out the importance of fathers and encourage dads to go for gold for their children. Fathers are important and good fathers can make a world of difference. As the ad says let’s encourage mothers and fathers everywhere to love each other and love their children.
Lovework

The ‘father water’ as Robert Bly says is running low and our society is worse for the shortage. Please take encouragement from reading this that you as a father are important. Every response to the Dads4Kids TV ad says that Dads are important and in all the responses there is a longing for better.

So let’s admit that the wound runs deep, even in our own lives, and work together to change our children’s and others lives for the better.

Yours for Wounded Healers
Warwick Marsh

PS I encourage you to read this brilliant article called “Healing the Father Wound” by Australia’s to selling men’s writer Dr Steve Biddulph. It will give you the much needed background to the above article. Steve argues from almost 40 years of study and practice that among the men who attend his seminars. Approximately 30% hate their father, 30% have a very poor relationship with their father, the next 30% have more a dutiful relationship and only about 10% have a warm caring relationship with their father. I think his figures are pretty accurate.

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