The family is the most unique institution known to mankind for from it emanates the value formation that harness children on how to face uncertainties in life.
As a school, the family is just one of a kind which offers a never ending course. The lessons start from the baby in a cradle being introduced to the wonders of new adventure, a child given precautions on how to take a first step, a juvenile carefully guided against intricacies like placing square peg in a round hole and as adults imparted with ripe knowledge before raising a family of their own to complete the cycle.
Yet the exercise will not stop from there for life and family are continuing education.
Considering these lessons embodied in our lives, we can safely conclude that family is the most important component in our midst. And all over, the wisdom of patriarch noticeably felt, from the cushions he provides to reinforced perspectives that will save us from pitfalls. This is the critical role of father in maintaining the strong foundation of his family. No doubt, a mother shares equal burden but it takes a father a greater part in strengthening its structure to ensure its stability.
As I have seen in my family, a father plays multi-roles with overlapping functions. He is our breadwinner, moral teacher and a model for various sorts unimaginable. He works to support us financially and provide us with what we need and sometimes indulge on what we want. He monitors the way we act, the way we speak and the way we deal with other people in the community for he’s too particularly meticulous with our behavioral attitudes.
The role of fathers has gone through drastic changes. Before, mothers did almost all the caring, but a much greater share is carried out by fathers today. The United Nations Programme on the Family said that this change is brought about by internationally recognized importance of gender equality and the increased of women who participate in the labor force. Because of this, there is now an increased emphasis on father as co-parent, fully-involved and actively participating in both emotional and practical day-to-day aspects of child-rearing.
In July 2007, the United Nations Population Fund, observed the World Population Day under the theme “Men at Work”. Highlighted under this are four sub-themes which exposed the responsibilities of father in the family.
Firstly, “Support Pregnant Wife”. A father is not just a father. Inside a nuclear family, he has two title holding at the same time – being a father itself and being a husband. He does not only look at the condition of his children but also to his wife especially during the time of her pregnancy. And how can he do that? Well, he should make sure that his wife is eating proper diet required in such condition, gets plenty of rest and of course assisting her in whatever she’s doing.
Secondly, “Care for Baby”. As a supportive paternal role, early involvement between a father and their child is important in its own right, too. Research shows that fathers involved in caring for their baby, such as bathing etc. enjoy closer contact with their child when they reach the age of 10 or 11. Also, a really important role for a father is to gradually help the mother regain more independence and achieve some furlough from the baby at times by spending time with his child.
Thirdly, “Educate Daughters”. In this time of change, many daughters, especially teens, entered the world of violence. What a father needs is to educate and discipline them. Studies suggest that fathers who respond calmly when their children misbehave have children who are more popular, boys who are less aggressive, and girls who are less negative with their friends. Fathers exercise a critical role in providing their children with a mental map of how to respond to difficult situations. This is why they have to learn the art of self-control as they interact with their children.
And lastly, “Share Parenting”. According to Population Commission, shared parenting between husband and wife is needed to determine and achieve the desired number, spacing and timing of their children according to their own family life aspirations, taking into account psychological preparedness, health status, socio-cultural and economic concerns. Together, a couple should decide the plans for their children and to the family. Because if only one decides, a conflict between them may begin.
While the role of father has been changing over time, the challenges the family face remain as strong as ever. One of these challenges is the absence of a father from the family. It may due to the separation of couple which then caused more and more children to live in one-parent households, usually with their mother. Also, it is caused by the migration of either father or mother in far places to meet the increasing financial demand of the whole family. Therefore, it is their duty to keep in touch in the best way they can preserve harmony and to let their children understand the reason why he is away from them, to avoid the feeling of being rejected as they grow up.
The rising crisis of sickness among children posed greater challenges to every father in the family. It increases his adrenalin to another level to respond to the immediate needs of his sick child, to handle medical situations and emergencies, and to have an understanding about childcare.
In addition, a very serious challenge is when a father himself is the source of violence within the family. Child violence may appear in four structures: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. This violence may lead to traumas among children leading to psychiatric problem when not treated immediately. The government had implemented laws regarding this matter and helped those victims through education and treatment.
Responsibilities always come with challenges. As a father, it is important to promote a positive environment inside the family. Yes, fatherhood is difficult but the only key is “motivation”, motivation to be a good father, motivation to build a strong family and motivation to fulfill your responsibilities and to pass through the challenges for yourself as a father and for the other people in your family who rely in you. (SANDY MARIE B. BELARMINO, 4th Year, San Pablo City Science High School)