Life Without Father

September 17, 2008

(Post #2 of 4)

I actually used to have a book by this name, Life Without Father.  I still have a book called The Way We Never Were:  American Families and the Nostalgia Trap.  They were books from a graduate class on family policy in the US. 

I think that life without a father is supposed to be a bad thing.  The books explored the notion of the nuclear family and how it is idealized, for better…and worse.  The Way We Never Were deconstructs the idealized “American” family and illustrates how this idea of family has never existed at any single point in American history.  Life Without Father presented a lot of data to support the idea that fathers are a good thing.  That’s fine and great…except for when they are really, really bad fathers.

Once I told Baby Bear’s father that he had to move out, he seemed to go deaf.  I told him this a number of times.  “You need to move out.”  “You need to find a place to live.”  The more I pushed, the more defiant he became.  I hadn’t seen him pissed off too many times before, but I had given up on predicting what he was capable of (oh, let’s say something like giving an infant beer).  One day, when he was at work, I started flipping through the phone book.  This was before the days of wireless internet and Google.  It was so surreal…what was I looking for?  Pest management?  Not exactly.  Pizza delivery?  Nope. 

How do you get rid of a useless husband and father?  I finally came across the number for the local domestic violence shelter.  This wasn’t a direct hit, but I figured it was as close of a hit as I was going to get from this phone book.  I called the number and proceeded to explain the situation to the counselor on the other end of the phone.  She wasn’t sure what to tell me.  My relationship had signs of trouble, but no clear history of physical abuse.

Her only suggestion was to go court to request a personal protection order.  That would legally force him to stay away from me (the net result being he would have to move out).  She was not sure if I could get a personal protection order without clear evidence of physical abuse, but I tried anyway.  I couldn’t think of anything else.