Kathleen Parker

Back on Planet Earth, countless big-hearted men manage to transcend the intuitive drive to suffuse the world with their own genetic issue and raise other men's children. But most do it knowingly as stepfathers and adoptive parents rather than as dupes of deceit, as in the case of Richard White.

Would White continue to act as Jason's father if he knew the truth? We'd like to think so - for the child's sake. But that might depend upon how 21st century he really is. Uncertain dads these days haul out the DNA testing kit - a post-modern Tree of Knowledge that has produced much spoiled fruit.

As too many fathers have discovered that the child they're raising - or being forced to support - is not their own, some have sought legal relief from paternity. Though their reaction may be understandable, it is also tragic.

The real loser, of course, is the child in whom no one is adequately invested. Hence the insistence that commitment through marriage - as preface, not postscript, to childbearing - is the best insurance for all, but especially children.

Superman's son, one trusts, will manage to reconcile his confusing origins with Destiny, but his journey will be decidedly easier as long as White is willing to continue playing the castrated stooge - or the self-sacrificing nobleman, depending on one's perspective.

It is probably impractical to wish for Lois Lane and her supernatural boyfriend to marry and allow White to avoid the inevitable humiliation of discovering that he's been played. On the other hand, in a continuation of the Superman-as-Christ allegory, perhaps White is Joseph to Lois's Mary.

In the absence of a satisfactory moral to the story, we are left to improvise. For my ration of popcorn, one thought emerges with clarity: When it comes to fathers, it's better to have an ordinary man on the ground than have to rely on a flighty narcissist who woos girls on rooftops, and then vanishes in search of self.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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