Little or no attention is usually paid to the commemoration of Father’s Day, which comes up every third Sunday in June every year. Reason is not far fetched – the roles of fathers in the life of a child and in society are underestimated. Most people assume that all that is expected of a father in a family is to cater for their needs. This is completely untrue. In most cultures, fathers are assumed to play only the role of a provider. Whereas, a true father plays two more roles apart from being a provider, he is also a protector and disciplinarian. It is not to say that mothers are not functional in these roles but fathers are usually noted for these roles. Let it be noted that mothers could do as much as fathers.
Fatherhood isn’t just a mere status one attains, it comes with responsibilities, obligations and selfless sacrifices. Parenting as a father is characterised by sacrificial duties. Sacrifice becomes an integrated phase of a father’s life. To a good father, his personal life needs to take the backseat while that of his children take the front seat. A perfect epitome of a responsible life is that of a good father.
The paternal bond between a father and the child demands that the father provides unflinching care and constant sacrifices. A father is not just a male who begets a child, there is more to who a father is in the life of everyone. A father is not just the male parent of a child, he is the mentor of that child. He coaches his child in a fatherly manner leaving indelible marks in the mind of that child. The child looks up to his father to provide a feeling of security and confidence. A father talks less and acts more. He leads the way by acting on what he professes. He may not always declare his love for the family all the time but he shows it always.
Not every good man is a good father, but every good father passes for a good man. Good father in this context means a man who displays desirable character for their children. A responsible father constantly reminds their children of the consequences of their actions later in life as he disciplines them calmly and lovingly. Whether the children realise this or not, good fathers are role models to their children.
We cannot overemphasize the role a paternal presence plays in the life of a child as a father’s impacts outlive their existence. Research revealed that people with actively involved father figures in their lives during childhood are more likely to have a lasting marriage. People without father figures in their lives may likely have difficulty in having an influential role model and developing some true values of life. A child from a father-absent home may have trouble in his academics and eventually drop out from school. Father figures here refer to biological, adoptive, or step-father. A father builds and leaves legacies. He wears himself out to enrich the child in wisdom and knowledge. This portrays the teaching skill nature bestows on fathers. It is the father-effect a child has that determines how well his father impacted him.
One cannot under-estimate the involvement of a father in the cognitive skills development of a child in his early and middle ages. At these stages of life, the child builds with the assistance and guidance of the father skills that will help him perform tasks associated with judgment, intuition, perception, awareness and reasoning. The father can only achieve these tasks with the child via availability, accessibility, engagement and involvement.
A father is the first teacher who gives his growing child an insight into the world of men. He is the first to instruct the child with directives and order. He shares with the child life’s lessons in simple and understandable ways. A child grows to learn at his father’s feet.
Indeed, a father forms an important pillar in the development of a child’s emotional and physical well-being. Good fathering is an investment that will not only benefit the family but society at large. The returns from a well fathered life are enormous because such life has been prepared for challenges ahead. Irresponsible fathers could be relegated to mere sperm donors but responsible fathers are the bedrock of the family. In all, good parenting will shape the life of a child and launch him on the right track to lead a life of his own. What a child sees his parents do strongly steers him into adulthood, so the onus lies on the parents, not just on the father alone. Good fathers deserve to be commended and celebrated for all that they do for their families.
- Kayode Ojewale is of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority