Hands-Off Parenting Is Not Parenting, Simon Cowell

Cowell and son in an uncharacteristically hands-on moment.

In a recent interview with Hello! magazine, The X Factor UK judge Simon Cowell assessed his parenting skills in typical Simon Cowell fashion.

“I’m going to be honest — I’m not exactly a hands-on dad.”

Cowell’s son, Eric Philip, is eight-months-old, but the 55-year-old music mogul said he wants “to fast forward a few years so I can take him go-karting and then introduce him to women.”

In a statement that sounds wildly out-of-tune in what some outlets have deemed The Year of the Dad, Cowell admits to wanting only the fun part of fatherhood: the opportunity to play with his favorite toys and then relive his glory days on the single scene.

If this sounds like Cowell’s being irresponsible in raising his son, don’t fret. After all, he’s not anxious about it. He’s got this parenting thing covered! “… At the end of the day we have really great nannies that are bloody amazing, so I don’t have to worry.”

I don’t mean to be rude, Simon, but how many adults does it take to raise your baby boy? He has two able-bodied parents already, and yet you need multiple nannies? Actually, let me re-phrase that: how many women does it take to raise your child? Because I’ll bet that those nannies are all, as traditionally tends to be the case, female.

Months back, Cowell told PEOPLE magazine that he was “born to be a dad.” I imagine Genghis Khan might have said the same thing (and I imagine Cowell might appreciate the comparison to the ruthless Mongol warlord). In fact, any guy who doesn’t actually have to deal with the late-night wakings, the tantrums, and the long hours of monotony that come with taking care of an eight-month-old would probably agree with Cowell, too. What, me worry? This being a dad thing is a no-brainer!

Perhaps having the money to afford an army of nannies is what Cowell meant when he said, “I’m probably in a far better position to be a father now than I would have been 10 years ago.” Because obviously Cowell’s not talking about emotional depth, sensitivity, a domestic instinct, or the desire to provide his son with a model of a man who values gender equality such that he doesn’t distinguish between feminine roles and masculine ones, he’s willing to take part in it all.

What’s more troubling to me is that Cowell felt comfortable enough in his wealthy male privilege to express these kinds of sentiments so flippantly. Replace Cowell with a polarizing female celebrity — Madonna, say, who is roughly Cowell’s age — and the media would have a field day, eviscerating her for being a bad mother who doesn’t love her kids or spend enough time with them. Celebrity mothers don’t even like being photographed with their nannies in tow, and they rarely speak of them.

So while we can applaud Cowell for his honesty — an attitude I’ve always admired when seeing him mentor young stars on his television shows — we can also criticize him for the ridiculous stance that he seems to have no shame in expressing. Get involved, Simon! You’re missing out on the experience of your life. Bring your unflinching, critical powers of perception to the endeavor of raising your child, and you’ll be surprised at the rewards. They’re not money, sure. But haven’t you made enough of that? Fatherhood yields a different kind of wealth. To back away from it with this oh-so-cool, ironic attitude isn’t funny or insightfully candid. It’s emotional cowardice.


Image courtesy of Pacific Coast News

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