OPINIONPeople Daily

Modern fatherhood under severe stress

The world recently celebrated Father’s Day.  Of course, it was a low key affair. But I must admit, I was lucky I received best wishes from the ladies in the house! Modern fathers know this kind of gesture does not come easily.

According to men’s lobbyists, Father’s Day “is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to the community, family, marriage, and child care, while highlighting the discrimination against them”.

Now, even as the world tries to make fathers irrelevant, their role in families cannot be gainsaid. According to experts, the involvement of a father has profound effects on children. A positive interaction between a father and child promotes the latter’s physical well-being, perceptual ability and competency in human relations.

Ideally, a conscientious father can help a child demonstrate greater ability to take initiative and self-control. But it is a tough time to be a father today, what with all the perennial male bashing that has pervaded society.

Although they are loath to admit it as men, fathers are currently undergoing serious financial, emotional and psychological torture, whose repercussions are evident in the high rate of suicides and homicides.

Many marriages are failing as spouses either walk out on, or stress out their financially challenged partners.

Thank God if you are broke, but still have a supporting ‘until death do you part’ partner. Forget the dictum ‘in good times and hard times’. When the crunch comes, that is when the ugly truth falls on many fathers that they are just as good as their next pay check.

Secondly, fathers are also under siege from both the Christian and feminist brigades. If the new gospel does not change in the near future, fathers might abandon an institution that has become complicit in their emasculation.

May be it is the high time fathers broke out from their cocoons and spoke out about increasing marginalisation. By keeping their cool, fathers are losing control to a conniving society. In the majority of family conflicts, the voice of mothers is heard loudest, as fathers shy away from openly expressing genuine grievances.

Moreover, there is also an emerging phenomenon that society needs to take into account. This is the increasing number of single fathers, as mothers pass on and leave behind children who need continued nurturing, a gift largely and naturally endowed to mothers. Where are the widowed fathers turning to for this crucial support for their children? 

Conscientious fathers are also adapting to the new economically-driven social circumstances. For instance, many fathers now playing the mother’s role when the latter is either indisposed, or busy doing something else.

Suffice it to say that there are a few rotten apples of neglectful fathers, who spoil the name of the conscientious lot. Every father must take the God-given responsibility for his offspring, whether in or out of wedlock.

Of course, it depends on circumstances, but it is better to be accused of trying and failing, than not trying at all. As for me, the best present my children can give me on any Father’s Day is obedience. But I do not mind a dark chocolate either! – The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst.  [email protected]

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