Once again we are in the month of June, preparing to celebrate Father’s Day. Many fathers complain that Father’s Day is often not given the same attention as Mother’s Day. I am sure that many of you as fathers also feel and believe that Mother’s Day is overrated, and that Father’s Day is underrated. If that is the case, you have to begin to ask yourself why?
You really have to come to grips with the fact that in our society, mothers are viewed as and expected to be the primary caretakers and primary educators of their children. Men are socialized to be selfish, while women are socialized to be selfless. Father’s are given permission to abdicate their roles as fathers, abandon their children, and not be held holistically responsible for the health, welfare, safety, and very existence of their children. On the other hand, not only are mothers expected to be with their children, no matter what the situation, they are also expected to first learn to celebrate themselves and take on the responsibility for their relationships with their children, in childhood and in adulthood. Mothers are also expected to take on the full responsibility and levels of accountability for their children, with or without the father of their children taking the same level of responsibility, and they are punished for not doing so.
If mothers abandon their children, leave them with others, including their fathers, they are not only vilified, they are criticized, ostracized, and minimized in society. Whereas, fathers are often allowed to celebrate their freedom away from their children, as well as celebrate themselves, while expecting others, including their children, to also celebrate them as males and as fathers. It goes back to the socialization of males compared to that of females. It is this socialization that men are then able to make excuses for developing and maintaining unhealthy relationships, and for not being accountable or responsible for correcting them by simply stating, “It’s A Man’s Thing!” What is, ‘a man’s thing?’
Because of society’s rules and regulations and socializations that are more than often dictated by men, the selfishness of many men often makes it difficult for great men to move from one to two, or from manhood to fatherhood. It is often difficult for them to share of themselves, their time, their love, and other valuable possessions (not just material possessions). When one doesn’t want to share, doesn’t know how to share, or feels he is forced to share, there is resentment. Resentment doesn’t allow for healthy and positive relationships, especially between fathers and their children. However, as a father, you must realize that you contributed o the creation of your children, therefore you bear equal responsibility for sharing and caring for them, along with establishing healthy and positive relationships with them.
Not only are mothers expected to start and model healthy relationships with their children, they are also held accountable for mending the relationships with their children when they are broken. However, there seems to be a sense of entitlement put forth by many fathers who have not been in the lives of their children. When there has been no relationship between fathers and their children, it is often because of abandonment issues, parental denial, divorce, irresponsibility, or other acts that can often be controlled. The prevailing sense of entitlement afforded men, allows fathers to hold their children responsible for mending broken or nonexistent relationships with their fathers, or fathers blame everyone else for the brokenness of their relationships, including the mothers of their children.
I am sure that many of you have had some great relationships with your father, and that many of you reading this blog are great fathers. And it’s not because as a child, you had to work and take responsibility for engaging in a healthy relationship with your father, but because of the commitment he had/has with you in order to develop a healthy relationship with you. He showed responsibility and accountability for his role as father, whether biological, adopted, or surrogate. And because he knew how to unselfishly celebrate himself, he celebrated you as his child, even under undue pressure. He chose to do so! His sense of privilege has not been based on his selfish feelings of entitlement, but based on the inner happiness and feelings of being blessed to have you as his child. His role of father and sense of privilege has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with you as his child. He is proud and willing to openly show his feelings, whether he was/is in the home with you or not. As a result, you have learned the elements of developing and maintaining healthy relationships with your children from the model and role model exemplified through your own father. As a result, because your father had/has no problem celebrating himself, while celebrating you, he in turn can now receive celebration from you on Father’s Day and every other day of the year.
As fathers, if you are not willing to or if you can’t take care of yourself, it then becomes a daunting task for you to effectively take care of your children. And taking care of your children is much greater than providing monetary and material things that so many men get hung up on. Taking care of your children involves sharing of yourself unselfishly. Yes, there is a monetary contribution, but taking care of your children also involves prioritizing your children, being present whether you live with them or not, showing and expressing unconditional love, being emotionally available, showing emotions, spending quality time with them, providing spiritual guidance, providing direction, as well as correction.
As a father, taking care of your children also involves you letting go of your painful and negative past. It’s getting professional mental health treatment when needed, instead of avoiding issues and not dealing with your inner pain, because of your pride and your ego. It’s doing as Prince once sang, ‘acting your age and not your shoe size.’ If you are not emotionally healthy, it is difficult for you to be emotionally present for anyone, let alone your children. It’s getting past the issues you have with the mother of your children and taking responsibility for your children.
All in all, it’s you as a man and as a father, taking responsibility and being accountable for the relationships with your children while they are young, which will dictate how those relationships will manifest when they are adults. All relationships must be nurtured with love, sprinkled with respect, covered with attention, and intention, from the onset.
Fathers, in order to ensure healthy relationships with your children, it is imperative that you get to know and accept yourself as a man, preferably prior to becoming a father, which many times does not take place. But if as a man, you do not avail yourself of the opportunity to get to know you and have an unselfish relationship with yourself as a man, prior to having children, then take some time to work on you as a man, while learning the skills it takes to be a great father. There is no excuse for not being taught or not knowing; it’s up to you to learn!
It's imperative for you as a man and as a father to remember that you are the author and the finisher of how your life and your relationships start and how they are maintained. It is also imperative that you move beyond the blame and shame of your past that has permeated and dominated your present, while negatively encroaching upon your future. In order for you to gain forgiveness, you must also learn to forgive yourself. And sometimes, in order to be forgiven, you have to ask for forgiveness. You are ultimately responsible for not only developing relationships with your children, but also for the maintenance of such relationships until they are adults. If you build those relationships on a solid foundation, when the cracks and turmoil of life interfere in the relationships between you and your children, not only will you be able to pull them back in line, your children will also understand and know what to do to help. After all, you would have already modeled for them and taught them, and they won’t have strayed away from those teachings. Healthy and loving fathers are one of the best teachers children can ever have! I challengeALLmen and ALLfathers to either become the teacher or continue as the teacher for the sake of your children and for the sake of human kind!
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