Told the wrong way, and Wayne Parr's story sounds like that of your prototypical bad dad. Parr put his 8-year-old daughter, Jasmine Parr, into a kickboxing ring where he told her to fight a 7-year-old girl. While spectators who had paid admission to the event watched, Jasmine broke down in tears, and Dad told her to get back out there.
By that standard, Wayne Parr sounds like a jerk, doesn't he? It's no wonder parents in the Parrs' native Australia are crying foul. But hold on, we all know there are always two sides to every story. So let's look at this one another way.
Jasmine Parr wants to grow up to be just like her dad, Wayne Parr, a kickboxing champion. As part of her training, he let her get into the ring with another little girl who wants to be a kickboxer. Frustrated after getting knocked down, Jasmine started crying. Thanks to her dad's words of encouragement, she got back out there and won the fight.
Still think Wayne Parr's a bad dad? Why? Because a little girl is fighting?
Maybe this story will change your mind. I was a girl who took karate. I went to tournaments where sparring was required, and naturally as a girl they placed me up against another girl. In a gym filled with spectators, I kicked and punched (and lost ... I confess I was really bad at it), and no one ever looked at my family cross-eyed. But I was just like Jasmine Parr, wasn't I? I was a girl in a violent sport by choice. And it didn't turn me into a monster.
The fact is, if we want to promote equality among the genders, we need to recognize that girls like and can be good at the more aggressive sports too. And provided a kid of either gender is choosing that for themselves rather than having it pushed on them by their parent, having an involved dad can do nothing but good for a little girl.
Looking at the Parr story -- especially how it's being portrayed as some villainous father trying to push his little girl into being a violent fighting machine -- I can't help wondering what's different about me and Jasmine Parr. Could it be that my mom is the one who signed me up for karate, my mom is the one who took me to most of my practices, my mom is the one who drove me to my tournament? That my dad had nothing to do with it (save for maybe driving me a few times to practice himself?)?
Or is there really nothing different ... ?
Image via Groupon/Flickr