Family matters

The  Prime Minister’s decision to honour a commitment to his son rather than attend the memorial service for Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, the two soldiers killed in Afghanistan, was a no-win one.

John Key was criticised for coming back from a trade delegation to attend the funerals of Air Force men who died in a helicopter crash. He is being criticised for not going to the service for these soldiers and he would have been criticised had he let down his son.

But there is no dishonouring of the men, the sacrifice they made or their families. He went to see the families, privately, which would almost certainly mean more than having him as one of many at a public memorial service.  Acting Prime Minister, Bill English, will be attending the service as will the Governor General.

I can’t speak for the families of the dead soldiers but I can speak as a member of the Bereaved Parents’ Club. Family and friends who could, came to our sons’ funerals. A lot could not but phoned or visited before or after, wrote, sent flowers or showed us they cared in some other way. Whatever they did was appreciated and none was regarded as displaying more or less care.

The children of all politicians have to put up with repeated absences of their parents and many, many times when the their jobs impact on family life.

No-one is in politics for ever and most of what even the best politicians achieve will soon be forgotten. But parenthood is forever and when they can politicians must be free to be parents first.

One of the significant contributing factors to social problems is the absence – physical and/or emotional – of fathers.

Rather than criticising him, we should be grateful that our Prime Minister is a man who not only knows but also shows that fathering is important and family matters.



5 Responses to Family matters

  1. Mark D says:

    He has gone up in my estimation. He’s doing the right thing by his son, and in visiting the grieving families he has done the right thing by them as well. The only people I see criticising him are people who hate him anyway, and you can’t run your life, or the country, based on what they have to say.


  2. Gravedodger says:

    Well said Mark, watching images of proud parents and family sharing in the success of their off spring as they bring success to NZ at London 2012 reminds of how important that pleasure is. It can be so fleeting.
    The PM is showing a much more meaningful respect and appreciation to the soldiers families and the nations true feelings by the personal contact.


  3. Having the PM turning up to the funeral with all the other VIPs turns what should be a solemn family affair into a media circus.
    Far better for him to visit the families some time later when they can actually talk to each other.
    Everybody will be too busy dealing with everybody else on the big day itself.


  4. LJ Holden says:

    The PM isn’t Commander-in-Chief. The Governor-General is. It’s therefore much more appropriate for the GG to attend.


  5. Freddy says:

    I’ve thought all along it should be the Defence Ministers duty to attend the funeral on behalf of the people of New Zealand.


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