It’s a tough time to be a father right now. Taking your child to the zoo or for a walk in the woods could land you on the front page of the newspaper. Whether you are a single dad, a step dad or just a standard dad, fathers everywhere are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. And even if you can ignore the media, the headlines and the plethora of self-appointed experts, you can hardly ignore that other know-it-all voice of criticism – the expert in fathering that is your own child.
I know what it is like to feel a failure as a father. I put the clothes on backwards, and forget which cup they always use. I lose count of the number of children I take to the park and come back with one too few – or one too many. I once did a favour for a sick neighbour and took their dog for a walk. The extending leash caught around my son’s neck and scarred him for life as I tried to juggle one dog and one boy. But being told off by the doctor or the mother, by supernanny or by supermarket trolleypushers, is nothing compared to being told off by your own child.