Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
Creating a new life is a relatively uncomplicated process...as we all know. One's biological father may be different than the man who fathered you during the time you grew from an infant to an adult. You may have had more than one father or a strong father "figure" such as an uncle, grandfather, older brother or step father in your life. If your father left, died or was never there in your home, you may have had a teacher, a coach, a mentor, the military, a boss or religious leader-even a gang leader who served as a "father" to you, to guide you growing on to adulthood. If you were the first in your family when your parents were young; you probably had a different experience than children born to older parents or as the youngest in a large family when your parents were older and more tired/experienced by the time they parented you. In any of these circumstances and others, if you had a father present most of the time in your home growing up, who tried to be a "good father" leading you on a path to right action, hard work, integrity and provided for you all-you were/are fortunate. Sadly, in the 21st century...you are in the minority.
Statistics gathered in most western countries for over 50 years, show that families where the father is absent most or all of the time results in the highest rates of children who have behavioral problems, addictions, teenage pregnancies, relationship problems, criminal behavior and suicide. See this site and documentary, graphs and stats from the USA, as one example: fathers.com/statistics-and-research/the-extent-of-fatherlessness/
Due to relentless conflicts, wars, natural disasters, many families are displaced from their homes, communities and families and find themselves without a "father" or elder males to provide guidance, financial and emotional support to children growing up. The most recent estimate of children in crisis in refugee camps and otherwise "displaced" as of the end of 2017, is a staggering 31 million.
Children are our most valuable and our most vulnerable resource for our future. However, those who take care and teach children-these people and these professions are some of the lowest paid and least respected occupations in western countries. Even mothers or fathers who are able to be at home caring/working for their family are still denigrated in media in subtle and blatant ways, as a result of very misguided "feminist" and political movements.
The push in North America specifically, against men, against boys and the psycho- social engineering language bombarded through media about "toxic" masculinity ad nauseum, fuels the divide between genders, confuses the role of men and diminishes the vital importance of two parents, two genders i.e. male and female, in healthy parenting. Moreover those who seek to divide people over outward appearance of race, ethnicity and religion further drive wedges between the possibility of close relationships between fathers and daughters, fathers and sons, mothers and sons and mothers and fathers.
A significant percentage of young adults in 'western' nations aged 22-40, have inwardly decided not to even attempt parenting and long term bonding with another human being because of a number of reasons and pressures-real or contrived-against having "normal families". Many come from families where their parents divorced, where they were forced into "step families" or endured living in single parent households with economic and emotional hardships they associate with being parents and having a family. Many would be fathers are almost afraid of the unrealistic demands of what they view as "extreme responsibility" i.e. "being everything to everybody" involved as a father. Fathers are in the same situation mothers were in the 80s and 90s, when women found themselves having to be "superwomen" to be "cool moms" and having impossible standards set for being a "successful woman" and "successful mother" and "all roles" concurrently.
There are situations where the only work men can obtain is overseas or out of the country or state. I am not including fathers who are in the military and must serve overseas-they have a unique situation and fortunately far more support now than previously, but it is still very hard on families and marriages to have one parent away for months at a time over years at a time-especially if they are deployed to dangerous posts.
I have seen many ex-pats, especially from South and Central Asia, as well as the Caucasus countries, who have no possibility of earning enough money to work in their own countries and must leave for a year or years at a time. If the wife/mother has a large family who supports her in his absence, that is one way a family can sacrifice by having an absent father for years. Otherwise, it is the children who suffer the most.
Men who are fathers and have been justly or unjustly convicted of a crime and must serve time in prison, also place their families in a higher risk of having the next generation have serious issues in their lives. There is less support, sympathy and resources for families in this situation. In many countries men are hauled off to prison for political reasons or on the basis of a lie or contrived evidence, and their families never see them again.
The stigma of having a parent/spouse in prison is pasted onto the family during and after the incarceration. This stigma is very difficult to remove. There are a few, children (they are the exception statistically) who are able to rise out of their circumstances of suffering and succeed in all ways, untuning the previous generation's mistakes or misfortunes, and becoming good and even great men and fathers. This is what we hope and pray for in healthy communities.
While my own father was away much of the time when I was growing up, pushed to provide more and more for his ever growing family of six children; I was fortunate to have a large extended family with loving uncles a very supportive paternal grandfather and lots of male cousins in addition to having some excellent male teachers, coaches and mentors throughout my life. My father took me to the track as soon as I could walk, showed me how to hammer a nail, lay slate, taught me music first and even though he was a classical musician, it was he who brought home the first Beatles record for us. He was a strict, Sicilian man who expanded his thinking to promote my sister and I to excel and strive for high standards graduating from Georgetown and Princeton university, respectively. He accepted both my youngest brother when he came out as gay, and one of his nephews when he came out as an openly gay man. He made many mistakes, some quite serious ones, but he did keep trying to change and adapt.
My father, grandfathers and uncles endeavored to be 'good, strong men' but were not concerned about being 'nice' men. As I recently read and agree with: “Nice” says nothing of spine, of edge, of valor, and thus it can say little of righteousness or purpose. Nice requires no courage, no conviction, and no willingness to make enemies with the wicked."-Greg Morse-"Not Safe but Good" on: www.desiringgod.org/articles
My parents created the "extreme responsibility rule" in our family which was: "Whoever is the eldest is responsible". I was/am the eldest child in our half dozen, so it was always me. My siblings soon learned that whenever I was babysitting, which was very often, they could get away with almost anything since I would be blamed. The few times I tried to reason with my parents about the inequity and unfairness of their rules, they replied sternly: "Life isn't fair." That was the end of the attempted discussion. Any inquiry about their methods and reasons would result in the blanket statement: "Don't be fresh!" A very different meaning then, than in use today. This statement was usually punctuated with a slap to my face as an exclamation point to remember. Both my parents used violence as a tool/strategy for behavior management. I don't think it is/was necessary and there are more effective strategies to raise children but they both came from small families and my mother only had two sisters. They had no clue about how to raise a large family with four sons in various locations and cultures of the USA, so they 'experimented'. We used to be referred to as "holy terrors" by my mother when we were children. By contrast with most children, we actually were very "well behaved" most of the time. I know this after being out in wider society, in hundreds of schools in dozens of countries over the decades.
The first two of us, my brother Robert and I, were the guinea pigs for the rest to follow. My younger siblings benefited from our examples. We bore the pain from which they gained. The younger four of us had it much easier growing up yet my brother Robert and I are the only two of our parents six children, who became parents ourselves. Two of my siblings have never married. Fairly typical of that generation of children of immigrant families who grew up in the USA.
The man I married who was father to our children came from an immigrant family, too. He was the youngest of four and his German mother once told me she "gave up on him" because he was so "difficult and impossible to handle". As a consequence he wasn't held accountable for his actions. His own paternal grandfather was the one who endeavored to teach him and admonish him to be more responsible. His grandfather encouraged and supported my husband's choice to go into the US military. But my husband's grandfather died before our son was born.
My husband used to moan that taking care of our young children was in the 'too hard category' for him. He said, "I'd "rather be climbing K2 than take the kids for the weekend." When we were married he was gone between 6-8 months of the year as a mountain guide and climber. He ended up being a "deadbeat dad" in more ways than one. He thought of responsibilities, especially in connection with being a father for our children, as his "shackles". He tried to break free whenever he could no matter what the consequences. Marty didn't want to be a "granpa". I never understood nor sympathized with his attitude.
Our son, Denali was a very responsible person, perhaps too responsible; since he wouldn't let his father go alone to his death at the end. He took on extreme responsibility and "led" for his father as far as he could on the mountain K2. Denali, would have made a wonderful father, I believe. He liked and wanted to have children and told me once he would be "a present, not an absent father". But that is/was not to be.
(Photos below of "fathers" in my family including my paternal grandfather (my father's step father), my father, my husband and my brother (USMC-Retired) who is a father and grandfather now. None of my other siblings chose to be parents.
Certainly there are men or couples who physically cannot father (or mother) a child and therefore cannot become a biological parent in their life. However, there are some who care take and parent other children who need parenting in their extended family, or even take in foster children or orphans and parent them with love and support. These men become the ones responsible for their child's or children's guidance and growth. There are those who become teachers, coaches, trainers and leaders and "father" or mentor those younger and imprint important lessons by their example. I am writing here of the positive examples. Sadly we hear all too often of the twisted, sick, criminal and evil "fathers" and the tragedies left in their legacy of abuse, cruelty, torture, abandonment, exploitation and neglect.
Father's Day was celebrated on Sunday, June 16, 2019 in a number of countries. My best to all of you who have undertaken willingly and lovingly the responsibility of being/becoming a father. This will be your most important "job" and the consequences of not "doing your job" affects other human beings for the rest of their lives...therefore please take this responsibility seriously.
Tonight in the chill of south island winter and wind, I remember the sunny songs of Harry Belafonte in connection with memories of my father. My Dad used to put on Harry Belafonte records when he was babysitting us by himself. He would have us dance and sing with him to these songs. I still remember the lyrics. He would stage our dances sometimes by having me and my sister come down the stairs, with my brothers beating on tables to the drums of the album "Calypso" with Harry Belafonte calling out "OOO Look, look at Dolly..." and then the refrain, "Cause she gonna dance, she gonna sing - she gonna cause the rafters to ring!" He would eat a banana while singing the "Banana Boat song" just for fun. Those were times of joy, warmth and true togetherness. Thank you, Dad.
Till next week may you hold your fathers in your prayers wherever you may be....they need them now more than ever whether still on this Earth or across the threshold.
Harry Belafonte"Dolly Dawn" on his Calypso Album
FYI: Harry Belafonte is still alive.
Born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr.; March 1, 1927-Jamaican/American