Hollywood star ‘delighted’ by secret love child

Comedy actor Hugh Grant has admitted fathering a child at the age of 51 after 'a fleeting affair'. His response to his daughter's birth reveals how attitudes have changed.

Hugh Grant is famed for his bachelor lifestyle, and notorious for his ‘commitmentphobic‘ aversion to lasting relationships. But now, it has been revealed, he has one relationship that will last whether he likes it or not: he is the father of a newborn baby girl.

With a short prepared statement delivered by a representative, Grant informed the press of the birth of his first child. The mother was not named, but is confidently identified as Chinese actress Tinglan Hong, who had a caesarian section in an exclusive London hospital while using a false name.

Was it fear of scandal that drove these efforts at discretion? Hugh Grant is a respected household name and, since the phone hacking scandal, a vocal defender of morality – at least when it comes to the behaviour of tabloid reporters. For such a man to have fathered a child with someone to whom he was not married – with whom, in fact, he barely had any sort of relationship at all – would once have been considered shocking.

But times have changed. Grant’s statement on his new daughter revealed no trace of embarrassment or shame. ‘Hugh could not be happier or more supportive,’ said a spokeswoman. Although there are now no romantic ties between Grant and Ms Hong, they were said to have ‘discussed everything’ and to be ‘on very friendly terms.’

Informal reports from an unnamed friend of the actor confirmed the rosy picture. ‘He is beaming about his daughter,’ the source told a US magazine. ‘He is not with the mum anymore but he’s absolutely thrilled.’

Grant met his daughter for the first time the day after she was born, staying with the baby for half an hour before jetting off to Scotland to take part in a celebrity golf tournament. He will, it is expected, play an active but perhaps slightly distant role in his daughter’s upbringing.

This would not make her an unusual case. Nearly a quarter of British children grow up with a single mother, a proportion that is rising all the time.

Dad’s the word

Many sociologists will think Hugh Grant is wrong to be so casual as he adds another single parent family to the UK’s growing total. They say fathers have responsibilities that can only be met when mother and father live together in a stable long-term relationship. They warn that children who grow up in fatherless households miss the influence of a good male role-model and can have problems at home and at school.

So far, however, most commentators seem to think that Grant has no reason to be ashamed. Fathers are important – everyone agrees on that – but they can play a rich and valuable part in children’s lives without having to be part of a traditional nuclear family. To claim otherwise, say Grant’s many supporters, is to lag behind the times.

You Decide

  1. How important are fathers to families?
  2. Hugh Grant has said he will be 'supportive'. But what should supportive mean in this context? What sorts of support are the most important in fatherhood, and is this the sort of support you think Hugh Grant will provide?

Activities

  1. What does modern fatherhood mean? Create a poem, song or artwork expressing your thoughts on this.
  2. The failures of fathers are blamed for a host of social ills. Is this fair? Do some research and write a short article arguing one side of the question or the other.

Some People Say...

“A family can't be healthy without a father living at home.”

What do you think?

Q & A

So times have changed then?
Yes. Moral rules about children born outside marriage have come a long way in most societies. Historically, there used to be a huge burden of social stigma attached to an unmarried birth.
That's harsh on fathers!
Actually, mothers bore the brunt of the abuse. Women who had children while unmarried were regarded as permanently shamed. The children themselves were labelled 'bastards', despite being totally blameless. Fathers often got away totally free.
Do fathers really matter in families?
It used to be thought that fathers were an irrelevance in family life. These days, however, an ever growing body of research indicates that fathers have a big impact on the development of their children.

Word Watch

Commitmentphobic
The term 'commitmentphobia' was coined in 1987 in the popular psychology book Men Who Can't Love. It describes a condition which makes men unable to settle down in long-term relationships and has been widely taken up in popular culture, although it is not medically recognised.
Caesarian section
A medical procedure in which a baby is surgically removed from the womb rather than being born the normal way. It is often done in cases where a normal birth could be dangerous to the baby or the mother, but is sometimes simply a matter of preference.
Phone hacking scandal
The scandal which erupted when it emerged that the News of the World newspaper had been illegally hacking into the voicemails of celebrities. Hugh Grant, whose phone is believed to have been hacked, has become a leading voice in the campaign to restrict unethical journalistic practices.
Nuclear family
A traditional family set up with a mother and father who live together and are married or in a long-term partnership. Nothing to do with atomic missiles or reactor meltdowns.

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