Mention my father to any of his acquaintances or contemporaries and the conversation is immediately linked to memories of three sterling qualities of him: Respect, Responsibility and Relationship.
I have been pondering over these qualities lately and have come to the humble conclusion that every father must evince them. A real man or father must have these attributes. In commemoration of this year’s Father’s Day on June 16, I would want to share my thoughts on these three qualities.
The macmillandictionary.com defines ‘respect’ as “a feeling of admiration that you have for someone because of their personal qualities, their achievements, or their status, and that you show by treating them in a polite and kind way”. A father must practice respect.
Fathers who respect themselves live an exemplary life and therefore, are good role models to their children. In recent times, for example, a lot of socialisation of children takes place in rush hour traffic as families leave and return home. A father involved in road rage in the presence of his children is actually giving vent to the expression ‘action speaks louder than words”. These children might implicitly imbibe their father’s traffic misconduct as the rule of thumb.
There are many fathers whose struggles with drugs and alcohol can be traced to the errands they made to procure these substances for their fathers as children.
The ability to self-regulate is so crucial in our everyday life that it differentiates winners from losers. In fact, it is the bedrock for life. A father who has incestuous relationship with a daughter obviously does not have this ability. On the other hand, choosing to spend time with the family in order to develop healthy attachment or bonding, thereby ensuring healthy socio-emotional development of children, is a demonstration of restraint.
A father who treats his children and wife with respect will get respect in return. A father cannot disrespect his wife, the mother of his children, and expect the children to respect him. If he insists, what he gets would be pseudo-respect. You can’t command respect, you must earn it; and by earning, it means you must first offer it!
According to Vicktor Frankl, ‘responsibility’ is the “essence of existence”. He further suggests that “a man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears towards a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life.’’ He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how".” Isn’t it amazing that living for your family, caring for them and remaining connected to them has a survival value? We have often heard this of mothers, “I will sell my last unsewn cloth to take care of my children.”
When fathers remain rooted in the lives of their families, they live long,` period! Being a responsible father means ridding oneself of chauvinistic tendencies that imprison us and estrange us from our families. Connecting to the she in us makes us more humane and sensitive. A responsible father would therefore be friends with his children and wife, gives a hand at home, and above all, lead his children to discover their purpose in life.
Fathers must pursue relationship and honour it. Relationship is all about connection. Fathers must know that we are embedded in different relationships: as fathers, husbands, sons, colleagues, friends etc. All these relationships are nuanced differently which demand different levels of commitment.
Relating to our wives in the same way we relate to our friends, may create difficulties. When fathers make the sustainability of their relationships, particularly, domestic relationships a priority, they enhance their personal and family well-being.
By Adolf Awuku Bekoe
HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY!