Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Childfree “Dads” November 1, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

While counting down the days to my wedding, I thought it would be fun to revisit some favorite films with classic wedding scenes, including Sixteen Candles (“Love the teapot.”), When Harry Met Sally (“Who’s the dog, Harry?!”), and Sex and the City (“Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours.”). Which is how I happened to snuggle up with the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride.

Steve Martin and Diane Keaton as the parents*, Kimberly Williams as the bride, and who can forget Martin Short as the delightfully eccentric wedding coordinator, Franck. It’s funny and sweet, and even though I’m twice the age of the bride in this movie, it’s still relatable. I thought we’d have a “smallish” and “simple” affair too!

As I watched Steve Martin, childfree in real life, give his hilarious, touching, and convincing performance as a dad, I was reminded of an article we featured in a post earlier this year. We rose up in heated protest (on our comments page) in response to British actress Anne Reid’s insinuation that “Actresses Without Children Can’t Play Mothers.” What a load of bunk.

And this got me thinking about the wonderful men in our lives who happen to be childfree. The uncles, husbands, boyfriends, bosses, and friends. Today I’m celebrating Steve Martin, who gives the gifts of laughter and compassion through his “dad” (also in 1989’s Parenthood) and many other roles. I’m also thinking about the man who mentored me early on, who became a father-figure and then my friend. And two colleagues who are better able to nurture my career and our friendships because they aren’t occupied with being someone’s dad. They play important roles in my life. Isn’t it time they got some credit?

*I think it’s interesting that both Steve Martin and Diane Keaton were childfree when they made this movie (she later adopted two children).

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She regrets not hiring her own “Franck” to handle the minutiae of her wedding plans.

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5 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About Childfree “Dads””

  1. Iris D Says:

    A couple of weeks ago, I saw a biography clip on Turner Movie Classics on Beulah Bondi. The biography highighted that she played motherly and grandmotherly roles since she was relatively young. She played Jimmy Stewart’s mother on at least two occassions. She never married and was never a mother, herself. Watching Bondi’s biography made Anne Reid’s insinuation all the more bizarre. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/person/18861%7C20673/Beulah-Bondi/biography.html

  2. Angela Says:

    Great post, and congratulations on your marriage! I agree, I see my husband interacting with our neices, nephews and myriad of our friend’s children and think how wonderful he is at giving them the attention, love and good advice that they need. Children naturally are drawn to him and he freely gives his heart away to each of them and I love and appreciate him all the more for it. I get a little heart-squeeze when I think of what a fantastic dad he would have been, but he certainly is not wasting his talents! Humans in general, not just children, can’t have too many people in their lives who make positive contributions. Each of us has something to offer.

  3. Mali Says:

    That movie was from 1991? Seriously? God, I’m old!

    This is a lovely point. My husband would have been a great dad. One of the only ways he shows how sad he is about not having children is that he doesn’t play with them anymore. Whereas he used to play with his nieces and nephews all the time.

    • Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

      Oh, that’s so sad. I hope in time he can find his way back to his playfulness. I think removing ourselves from those situations is part of the grieving process, and I certainly had my time of not wanting to have my loss in my face. Some times my nieces and nephews are sources of pure joy; other times my heart aches around them. I can report that as time goes on, I experience more and longer periods of joy. I hope the same for your your husband.


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