Championing the Cause of Fatherhood

The other day, someone asked me what I wanted to do after graduation. I said that I was unsure. I would love to pursue academia, but I’m afraid that the stress of studying would affect my health even more, as it has done to me this year. So I figured the best thing to do would be to take a gap year to work before deciding whether to continue pursuing a Masters or a PhD.

The person suggested that it might be worthwhile championing a cause during that gap year. He shared about a young lady who, after her graduation, flew off to a developing country, and volunteered to do journalism in the English language for them for a low fee. Apparently, she made a huge difference to that place, and of course, gained a lot of experience useful to her Masters (either in journalism or mass communications, I don’t remember).

That got me thinking… What cause should I champion/promote/work for?

Yesterday, I had an inspiration!

Perhaps I really should champion the cause of good fathering! Now, this seems rather odd because I’m still not married and I don’t even have any kids of my own. But I think it’s very very important to champion this. I think all too often, fathers/husbands aren’t very much present in the lives of their children. Sure, they may love their children, but more often than not, they’re so busy with work that their children rarely receive much fatherly care. Moreover, I don’t think work is a valid excuse to not spend time with the family. So what if you’re working so hard to provide for the family? The numerous marriage counselling cases and divorce cases indicate that making money is never sufficient in holding a family together. In fact, the excessive time spent on work translates to more mistrust and less communication among spouses as one neglecs the other for the sake of work.

What worries me the most – and why I think championing good fatherhood is essential today – is the fact that so many people I know in my social circle are either broken, or come from broken families, and their fathers are largely to blame for the hurt/breakdown. Their dads either suddenly disappear from their lives, have an affair with someone else, incur the burden of huge debts, or are just so absent in the lives of their children that they resent their fathers for it. This problem is soooo bad, I’ve heard stories from friends about the failings of their dads, that I’m no longer surprised whenever people share with me their personal stories.

I shouldn’t generalise, but it tends to be the case that fathers are failing to keep to their roles of being a good husband and a father, and they tend to be the ones who break up a family and hurt their children the most.

It’s a huge problem. And I think so many people are so affected by such broken families that these days, I often hear people say, “I don’t believe in marriage,” or “I don’t want to raise children because I don’t want them to be broken (as I am – I don’t see how I can raise children without them being broken by my own brokenness).”

What annoys me the most is that there is a group of conservative people who insist that women should stay at home, not pursue a career, and look after the kids. What about the fathers? Why aren’t they sharing the responsibilities of raising the kids? Why should it be a woman’s thing? It’s so easy for them to blame the rest of society for all its moral failings, when these irresponsible men are also a contributing factor, having washed their hands off the responsibilities of being a father, leaving the mothers to do everything. So what if you’re the bread-winner? You are absent from the child’s life!

Anyway… A few weeks ago, I attended the funeral of the father of my friends (they’re sisters). The poor guy died in a cycling accident. He wasn’t wearing a helmet, and he fell off his bike, and landed on his head. Ouch. Anyway, my friends shared a beautiful eulogy of their dad. Sure, eulogies are where you have to say nice things about someone, but I think, whatever good things are said are usually the ones that are significant and have an impact. What was inspiring was their sharing of how wonderful and loving their dad has been. He was a man who loved his daughters and always bought lots of delicious foods for them to eat. He always ensured that they were home safe and sound, and he would stay up all night just to wait for them to arrive home. In fact, he’ll even drive his car to fetch them home no matter how late at night, just to keep them safe from potential dangers. He was strict, yet, he sounds like a very friendly and fun guy.

I thought to myself – I’d love to be that kind of a dad. If anything, the sharings pointed out that this was a man who put his family first – giving it more importance than his career and everything else. And he did pretty well in life anyway. We tend to hold this misconception that unless we put our careers before everything else, we will not go far in life. Here was a man who busted this myth – you can go far and have a wonderful and loving family even if you do not put your career first.

And I like what they shared, because it sounds like being a father is indeed something doable. People imagine that being good parents involves making so much money so that they can put their kids in all kinds of classes, and shower them with all kinds of stuff. Here was a man who was just always there for them, listening to them, being a friend and a father to them. It’s probably harder than it sounds, but I think it’s more effective than always giving stuff and making money, but not being there for your kids.

I’d like to be a dad, and in fact, I can’t wait for that day. I love children! Anyway, let’s see how I can go about in championing the cause of good and responsible fatherhood. I think our society is in dire need for more good and exemplary fathers.