30 December, 2008


The concept of Flat Daddies is giving me some pause for thought this evening. Quite simply, I struggle to know how I really feel about it.

It's wonderful that our feeling for parents, and the amount of love we have to give, are so deep that we can have real joy for a cardboard cut-out. If it helps families, then of course it must be tremendous. And it's fantastic that our free market could never leave such a crucial need unserved (albeit at $50 a pop - this is not a charity).

But it's also incredibly sad that a love that seems so real and vital between a child and their flesh-parent (so as not to discriminate against all the photo-parents out there) could seemingly be easily transferred to a thing.

What does this say about our contemporary view of relationships? These aren't posited as some kind of replacement, but still, how might this make a child feel about objects, as opposed to organisms? Might having this presence inhibit an infant's ability to find the attention that they need during their formative years?

Flat Daddies say on their site: "Experts believe the cutouts are a useful psychological device, especially for children, to help cope with the stress of long absences. It helps the family stay connected and is a constant reminder that even though mom or dad is thousands of miles away, they are still a part of their lives." I hope so. Clearly, I don't know what long-term research exists.

I sympathise greatly with the families that feel a Flat Daddy can help them. Kids should have a two parents, and where families have been wrenched apart through necessity (foreign policy notwithstanding) the effort to keep the other parent 'alive' in their child's mind must be a difficult one.

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