I recall from my early years a quote from Aristotle the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist: “We are what we repeatedly do.” Excellence is not an act but a habit. Fatherhood is not an act it is what males should repeatedly do. It should be a natural instinct not governed by rules.
Father’s Day is the day set aside to celebrate the special man that is or was in each of our lives. Needless to say it should be every day. While mothers are usually considered the ones who nurture families, on the corresponding hand I think of fathers as the backbones of families.
However, there is enough circulating negativity surrounding fatherhood—particularly Black fatherhood—that more needs to be spoken either in positive or at least for pragmatic purposes. Since our society has been inundated with negative information about fathers that do nothing to make things better, I intend to deliver my contribution to make things easier for fathers who may want to do better.
Unfortunately no man can be a perfect father, husband, leader, provider etc. so when the majority of men are examined we find a collection of men with lives full of broken relationships and inconsistent actions. On account of divorce, abandonment (both literal and emotional), general apathy, lack of concern, our community is rarely made up of complete families, ideal marriages and solid relationships. Many times we discover that the real fathers in people’s lives are not consanguineous (blood) relations, but are those who have become mentors and directors in the lives of others. This may be on account of divorce or abandonment but good high quality blood fathers are scarce commodities. An ever increasing number of children are raised without a father or father figure in their lives. Statistics on children raised in homes devoid of a father are disproportionately candidates for the revolving door of problematic lifestyles. For children from single parent family are twice as likely to drop out of high school, to have a child before they are 20, and to live in poverty. Also children who do not have a father in the home are more likely to do worse in school than those who do regardless of their household income
The nucleus family as we formerly knew it several years ago has become an endangered role model.
Generally speaking, fathers are considered to be good role models when they exhibit good morality and self-discipline. Therefore the father is the model for his offspring, especially his sons. A good strong father can make the difference between a lifetime of disappointment and anger, and a lifetime of fulfillment and good parenting in turn. Fathers are encouraged and urged to get more involved along with mothers in their children’s education. In fact fathers and mothers should keep reading to their children and reading with their children even through vacation. While math and science scores have shown slight improvement in recent years, our children’s overall reading level cannot boast the same. It has remained just about flat and reading ability wanes when children are out of school.
Fathers have been tasked with teaching their sons how to become good fathers, and along the way to also teach their daughters how a real man is supposed to be, and how a husband should treat a wife. Yes, fathers give out sage advice to their children from the time of birth until they are adults and even further past. Along the way fathers assist in guiding the children through the tough decisions and the life challenges.
How many fathers actually and regularly tell their children that they love and treasure them? Pray tell me what holds them back from doing so? Is it cultural? Genetic? Environmental? Fear of being too un-macho? Or is it attributable to our modern day society that attaches sexual connotation to every gesture? Whatever it is maybe it is time to reconsider rewriting this portion of gender history. A child makes connection with other human very early. One of the very first way is through eye contact, along with hugs and holding (human warmth). Fathers hug your child/ children; look them right in the eye and say “I love you” even before they are capable of emitting words from between their lips.
An essential difference that separates effective fathers from all other fathers is that they really and truly know their children. Effective fathers know what hurts and haunts their children, as well as what brings them joy and pleasure. They are aware of every aspect of their children’s personalities and labours to accentuate the positive and discourage the negative. As with any employment perfect attendance is of prime importance, and so it should be with fatherhood.
In fatherhood most of what happens without a father being aware is the loving and modeling. When you display regular presence it will be difficult to be excised from the world of your child even from a legal stance. Remember to honour the mother of your child/children, regardless of your present feelings about her. You do not need to be reminded that even though you both may not be wed, you once took her to bed. She was the vessel through which your child entered the world, so if now you treat her like a germ; it speaks volumes for the quality of your sperm. Refer to you three as a family, and behave as such so that the child can see.
Do not neglect to pay child support if you want to avoid having to report to the court. Let this remain imprinted in your head – Children need to be fed. Not for one day, but every day, all the way.
Granted fatherhood is challenging and can be difficult at times but so is life. If your father was less than stellar then strive to be more. If your father was a good father then you owe it to him to deliver that to your own child. Most importantly you owe your child the best that you can give so that the world has one less screwed –up human being.
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers biological or otherwise.
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