Giving fathers their due
"The older I get, the more I can see
How much he loved my mother and my brother and me
And he did the best that he could, and I only hope when I have my own family
That every day I see a little more of my father in me"
- Song For Dad - Keith Urban
Tomorrow, we will celebrate Father's Day. It's a whole lot quieter compared to the loud 'noise' made about Mother's Day. Much criticism has been directed at absentee fathers, their lack of input in the family's structure, while mothers are praised and their flaws overlooked.
Former lecturer and administrator at the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre Chloe Morris shared with Family and Religion that the time has come for fathers to receive their due.
"Statistically, many fathers have been absent for one reason or another. It is, therefore, very sad that these very men can be heard reflecting on the type of celebration that takes place for Mother's Day versus Father's Day," she said.
Morris also encouraged mothers to "give a little" to good fathers by recognising the father's role and supporting him, especially in difficult times, bearing in mind that each child is different and will need to be respected for his or her differences.
"Acknowledge the good in these fathers and (do) not label them with negative words used to describe irresponsible fathers," she said.
Emphasising fathers' involvement in their children's emotional well-being, she said, is central to the emotional well-being of the children.
"The father's involvement is demonstrated in his affection and support. He can contribute greatly to the child's cognitive, language, social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem and authenticity," she pointed out.
According to Morris, this primary relationship with fathers - good or bad - can affect all of the child's relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses.
"It prepares the foundation for the mastery of every kind of association throughout life, and a sense of self. Girls will look for their father in the men they meet in the future; while boys will model the behaviours they see around them and will seek their father's approval."
Morris also had high praises for men who have stepped in and become the kind of mentor or 'fatherly influence' that the child needs.
"It is not so much as having a father figure to replace the biological father; it is having a man who takes the responsibility and plays the role of father. He could be an uncle, grandfather, stepfather or a mentor from the community, church or school. This man should be cognisant that the boy around him will be a man, father and husband tomorrow," she said.
Citing society's ills, Morris said research has shown that boys without active fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to go to jail and nearly four times as likely to need treatment for emotional and behavioral problems just boys with fathers.
"William Pollock, Harvard psychologist, postulated that without the guidance and direction of a father, a boy's frustration often leads to violence and other anti-social behaviour," Morris shared.
As for tomorrow, Morris said she is hoping that the focus will be on change and also that children will present their father with the "greatest Father's Day gift ever" - forgiving them if they somehow hurt them in the process of fathering.
"It is not about his reaction; it is a decision to set you free. Do not remain a grown man or woman dying on the inside. Speak and free yourself."