Father of the Year or Deadbeat Dad?
By Michelle M. Leslie
The role of fatherhood in today's society is multidimensional. On one level, it is simply a matter of biology; a man provides sperm to create an offspring with the same genetic characteristics as himself. On another level, the man assumes a much larger role: that of provider, protector and teacher. In between these levels exists varying degrees and/or combinations of the two.
By definition, the term "father" simply means: "A male parent." One who provides the genetic makeup for a new organism. It is very scientific. No emotions are involved, and most males in our species are capable of fulfilling this role. As humans, we tend to assign emotional factors to this position, because we are, by nature, emotional beings. By doing this, each individual has the ability to create for themselves their own definition of the word.
When asked the question: "Would Mike Logan make a good father?" The varying degrees of the role were taken into account to arrive at my answer. On one hand, if Mike Logan genetically created a new organism, then "Yes," he has fulfilled one role of fatherhood. As to whether it was "good" or not, would depend on the final result of the new organism that had been created.
In addition, I had to think about my personal definition of the word. To me, "father" means someone who loves unconditionally, provides a safe and stable environment, and sets an excellent example by teaching and modeling appropriate behaviors. A "good" father would complete these tasks to the best of his ability. Would Mike Logan be capable of fulfilling this role based on my definition? I would have to say, "Yes."
During the last several years, I have spent many countless hours studying the character of Mike Logan on Law and Order. During this time, I think I have gotten to know him pretty well. He is a hard-nosed detective, with a tendency to be hostile and less than tolerant when it comes to arresting perpetrators for their crimes. He is bold and, oftentimes, brash. But when it comes to dealing with children, he is sensitive, caring, and very protective.
Case in point, the episode "Indifference." This episode deals with the harsh reality of child abuse, and gives us insight into Logan's own personal experience, exposing his vulnerability. Several scenes in this episode provide proof that Mike Logan has great concern for children. From the very beginning, Mike is very disheartened by the case in front of him. He is disgusted with the actions of the parents, and acts as a protector for one of the small victims on more than one occasion.
In one of these particular scenes, a mother grips her young son by the wrist and attempts to scald his little hand in boiling water. Mike and his partner, Max Greevey, burst into the room. Mike's first instinct is to rescue the child from the assault. Not only does he pull the child from his mother's grasp, but he cradles the youngster in his arms, providing protection and a feeling of safety from the abuser. Though Mike is shown in the background during part of this scene, it is visible that as Max struggles with the mother, Mike is comforting the child by whispering to him. Although, the viewer can not hear what is said, it is obvious that Mike is trying to soothe the naturally upset and frightened child.
In "God Bless the Child," a six-year-old girl dies when religious beliefs stand in the way of her receiving much needed medical treatment. Mike has a difficult time relating to the parents, and their seemingly careless actions. In the episode, he sternly tells the father that "Parents are responsible for their children's welfare." This statement clearly expresses Mike's understanding that with parenthood comes certain obligations and responsibilities. If he were a parent himself, I don't think that he would shirk his responsibilities toward his child.
There are several other episodes in which Mike stands up as a defender of the children. From the infanticide episode, "Precious," to "Cruel and Unusual," Mike reveals even more disgust of people who harm children. The episode "Precious" revolves around a mother who is presumed to have smothered her infant daughter, and the father who buried the baby in a cooler to protect her. The parents insist that the baby died of natural causes. But Mike has trouble believing that if that were the case, why didn't they attempt to seek help? He comments to Lennie and Van Buren that "You guys are the Mommies and Daddies here. If you found your kid like that, wouldn't you rush them to the hospital in the middle of a damned snowstorm?" He obviously feels a parent would go to any lengths to try and save their child. In a way, his question seems to be more of a comment that this is what he would do in that situation.
In "Cruel and Unusual", he is outraged at doctor's theory of treatment after he subjects himself to some electric shock therapy. He blatantly tells Van Buren that if he found out that someone had harmed his child, he would "sue the bastard." In my opinion, I think he would do more than sue. Later, upon discovering a child being subjected to this type of therapy, he appears to want to put the administrator "through the wall" for inflicting pain on a child, something that he can not stand for.
One episode where Mike clearly demonstrates sensitivity and understanding of children is "Competence." A young retarded girl appears to have much needed information regarding a shooting where a boy was killed. Mike develops a good rapport with the girl, talking to her on her level of understanding, coaxing her gently to relay the information, putting his arm around her at one point to make her feel safe and special.
Although he was never portrayed as such on Law and Order, the above examples, as well as others, lead me to believe that if Mike did have a child, he would be a devoted and dedicated father. Wanting to explore the notion of Mike Logan as a father, I wrote a story entitled "Keeping Secrets", in which Mike discovers that he has a son. Although the relationship is not viewed under a microscope with every detail of their relationship being explored, it is implied that, over time, the two are able to develop a strong and caring relationship as father and son. Though Mike never expresses how he feels in words, his actions in the piece, and the implications of others, depict him as very devoted, and feeling a great deal of affection toward his son. The boy, in turn, trusts, respects, and relies on Mike.
There are issues in Mike's background that complicate his desire to be a good father. One is the abuse he suffered as child. It is a fact that a child who is abused often grows up to abuse their own children. I think this could certainly become an issue for Mike. I see him occasionally losing his temper with his child, maybe even striking him/her. I think the issue is greater with a male child, who resembles himself in some way. I don't see it as being out of control, and most likely would result in a spanking or a slap.
In addition, Mike's career leads to a great deal of stress. It is common that many in his line of work have issues with anger management, and release their hostility on family members. Thirdly, at least in my fiction, Mike is a single father, which means more stress and less privacy and freedom. This may lead him to strike out, not only physically but verbally.
Would Mike be the perfect father? No. I don't even think there is such a thing. But would he try to the best of his ability? Yes. Mike has shown compassion, sensitivity and understanding when dealing with children. In the "infamous" episode "Seed," Mike comments that a girlfriend of his had an abortion that he didn't want her to have. Obviously he wants children. Given his desire, and obvious affection toward children, Mike Logan is definitely father material. He might not be a candidate for Father of the Year, but he certainly would not be a deadbeat.