Sunday, June 17, is Father’s Day—a day society is expected to reflect on the role of fathers, in a world, which now seems hell-bent on relegating them to spectators in own homes.
According to men’s lobbyists, “It is an occasion for men to celebrate achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage and child care while highlighting discrimination against them”.
Even as the world tries to make fathers irrelevant, their role in families is invaluable. Psychologists say the involvement of a father has profound effects on children. The interaction between a father and child promotes the latter’s physical well-being, perceptual ability and competency for relating with others.
In addition, such children demonstrate greater ability to take initiative and self-control. Of course, this is the ideal. Currently, this picture has been distorted almost beyond repair as social values become inverted.
It is a tough time to be a father today, what with all the perennial male bashing that has depicted men as good for nothing, both individually and collectively! Although they may not admit it, fathers are undergoing serious financial, emotional and psychological torture for various reasons. We all know the repercussions when this stress becomes unbearable.
First, the harsh economic times experienced in recent years has put a very heavy strain on the ability of fathers to effectively perform their bread-winning responsibilities. In a material world where money talks, this unfortunate situation exposes them to ridicule, oftentimes even by those who should be having their backs.
It is the reason why many marriages are failing as spouses walk out on their financially non-performing 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 cheque.
Secondly, fathers are also under siege from both the religious and gender brigades. I foresee a situation where in a few years, churches will be mainly the preserve of women and children, as fathers walk out on an institution which has become complicit in their emasculation.
May be it is the high time fathers broke out of their cocoons and spoke out, nay, gossiped, about their increasing challenges. By keeping their cool, apparently to save face, fathers have lost power to a conniving society. In the majority of family conflicts, the voice of mothers is heard most and loudest, as fathers shy away from openly expressing genuine grievances.
There is also an emerging phenomenon that society needs to take into consideration. This is the increasing number of single fathers. Recently, a relative brought this to my attention when she noted that so far this year, she has attended the burial of five young mothers.
Now, these mothers are passing on and leaving behind children who need continued emotional nurturing, which is a gift largely endowed to mothers. But since life must go on, where are the widowed fathers turning to for this crucial component of their children’s growth and wellbeing?
Suffice it to say that there are a few rotten apples of neglectful fathers who spoil the name of the conscientious lot. Conscientious fathers are trying hard to adapt to the new economically-driven social circumstances. For instance, I am seeing many fathers now playing the mother’s role when the latter is either indisposed, or busy doing something else.
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 Father’s Day is obedience. But I do not mind a dark chocolate either! – The writer is the Executive Director, Centre for Climate Change Awareness—[email protected]