I have been noticing a disturbing trend in media in recent years, but it finally really caught my attention just the other night as I was re-reading one of my favorite book series. The disturbing trend I have been noticing is that characters are basing their sense of self and sense of worth on their parents. I think I first noticed this when I watched the musical “Mama Mia” and watched as the main character is searching for her father because she wants to know who she is and feels that the only way to find this out is by finding out where she came from. Just recently, I was watching “Man of Steel” with my best friend and when Clark finds out that he isn’t really who he thinks he was he’s crying and asks Pa Kent “Can’t I just pretend to be your son?” I think Pa’s words were right on the mark when he said “You are my son.”

You see I am one of those kids who was adopted at least on one side. My biological father was never in my life until I finally met him when I was almost 30. My dad who adopted me when I was in 1st grade is the man who raised me. Now if I was how the media tends to portray people like me, I would have been trying to find my biological father so that I could find out who I was. I call BS on this though. I have always known who I was and it has nothing to do with a parent I never knew. YES there are a lot of things that my biological father and I have in common. We have the same sense of humor, we both like red heads, and we both like the same types of movies for the most part. Considering how long it was without me knowing him it’s kind of scary how much we have in common, but I have never once thought that knowing this man would give me some odd insight into who I was or thought that my self-worth would be greater if I ever met this man.

So it kind of disturbs me when I see reality shows that have kids with perfectly good families who are out searching for their father simply because the father was a sperm donor. WHY?!? This man means nothing to you and has nothing to give to you. He’s NOT your dad. It also disturbed me when I was reading and one of my favorite female characters suddenly started saying she had no idea who she was when she found out her dad wasn’t her biological father. This was made especially more disturbing to me because of the fact that in this book series, her race can’t have kids with humans so while they may love and marry humans it was common practice to find someone of their own race for a night of fun to create a kid if you wanted one but weren’t in a relationship where you could have one. So to mention this several times in several books and then to suddenly have it happen to the main character who knows it’s common and to have her take it so hard it made me wonder about it.

You see my father wasn’t in my life and honestly in my mind it didn’t matter. To me, anyone can be a father, all it takes is one moment to become a father. However NOT everyone can be a dad. I had a great dad who chose both my mother and me. If I had to say who I looked to for an idea of who I am it would be my Dad.

There are only two times lately that I have seen this story line where it actually made sense to me. Once was in Mortal Instruments series and once was in Percy Jackson but both times it is more because until they found out who their dad was they were literally living a lie not knowing at all who they were. In the other cases these people are like me, they have a sense of who they are. They have made a home for themselves and have a personality already in place and don’t have some oddness like Magic or Demi-god status that is being withheld from them. In these cases, I think the author does a huge disservice to their character by making them reliant on someone they don’t know to define who they already are which is ridiculous.

3 thoughts on “The Role of Dads in the Media

  1. Very well said, Kevin, and I agree. I wasn’t adopted, but I have friends who were and they would likely agree, too. Fathers can be anyone, but dads are gold. One of my friends doesn’t let people call him a father (he has four kids) and he wants to be called “dad”. His “father” was an abusive monster. His oldest kid has a “bio father” who was abusive. They have talked to her about him not being a safe person. She mostly just cried because she didn’t want anyone to say that my friend wasn’t her dad. He promised her he’d be her dad forever.

    The “I have to find myself” trope has always annoyed me, whether it is driven by wanting to know a parent or not. We are the people we choose to be and we should live like the people we want to become.

    Finally, the parents who raised an adopted child are often hurt by the “I must go find my ‘real’ father” theme. The real father is the person who loved, raised, fed, sheltered, and clothed them.

    Thanks for writing this. Media in general has to hear it more.

  2. First of all, it’s great to know that you took the reality of your dad not being your biological father so positively. I know many such people who don’t think alike.
    Coming back to the very significant point you tried to make with this piece, I think what you said there was absolutely correct. How can a person who chose to shun his little one, for whatever reason, can be bigger than that person, who in spite of not being the biological father, took care of everything you needed in life.
    It’s disturbing to see this trend of knowing about, who the sperm donor is, the ultimate objective of protagonists in those movies and other media, still continuing. It’s time for this primitive mindset to go and give the word “Step” the respect it deserves.

  3. I completely agree with this article. I have friends who were adopted by at least one parent – if not both- and they think the same. They never felt any compulsion to seek their so called “real” parents, never felt like they did not know who they were simply because they did not know their biological parents. The only one occasion when one of them actively sought out his birth father was when he was suspected of suffering from a genetic illness and since his mother’s line had no such disease in their history, they had to find the medical history of his father and his family.
    The whole “I want to know who I am” idea is, for me personally, ludicrous. We are who we are, who we shape ourselves to be. Of course, the people in our lives play a role in this shaping, be they friends or family, but the people who are not in our lives have no effect whatsoever. Media should understand that real parents are the ones who feed us, clothe us, and nurture us, not people who offered their biological material to make us. Especially in the cases when these people actually went ahead and abandoned their children.

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