Being a father does not confer fatherhood
Do you know who a father is? Are you a father? Who is a father? Someone who gets a woman pregnant? Someone who pays the rent? Any man who has children?
It’s father’s day today and so far, social media has been awash with great posts on fatherhood. While we celebrate and appreciate or even remember some unpleasant fatherhood experiences, it is time for us, especially the men to take stock of the kind of father’s we have been or intend to be. Fathers champion the molding on the family. The family determines the structure of the society.
I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.- Sigmund Freud
It is also time to evaluate how much appreciation we have shown to our fathers who are still with us. How often do we call them? How much do we strive to make them proud or try to make them understand our vision? If they are getting old, do we still appreciate their wisdom or treat them as kids? I can be called a Daddy’s boy, but I wish to stay close to my Dad. There is a lot of wisdom to tap at close range.
The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get.- Tim Russert
According to Wikipedia, “A father is the male parent of a child. Besides the paternal bonds of a father to his children, the father may have a parental legal and social relationship with the child that carries with it certain rights and obligations. An adoptive father is a male who has become the child’s parent through the legal process of adoption. A biological father is the male genetic contributor to the creation of the baby, through sexual intercourse or sperm donation. A biological father may have legal obligations to a child not raised by him, such as an obligation of monetary support. A putative father is a man whose biological relationship to a child is alleged but has not been established. A stepfather is a male who is the husband of a child’s mother and they may form a family unit, but who generally does not have the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent in relation to the child.”
We can see an adoptive father- through legal adoption; a biological father- the father whose semen produced the child; a putative father- alleged but not proven yet; and a stepfather- a non-biological father who has married the mother of a child.
Doing a google search will show many different interesting depictions of a father. Some of which include:
- A man in relation to his child or children. In this category will be the adoptive father, foster father, stepfather;
- An important male figure in the origin and early history of something. For instance, “he is revered as the father of optometry”
- A man who provides care and protection. Like a leader, elder, senior figure, patriarch, Senator, guiding light,
- The first person of the Trinity; God the Father. “Our Heavenly Father”
- Used as a title of respect for an old and venerable man or for something personified as such a man. “Father John”
- A title or form of addressing a priest. Its synonyms include priest, pastor, parson, clergyman, father confessor, churchman, man of the cloth, man of God, cleric, minister, preacher;
From all definitions and in all cultures and religion, fatherhood is a positive responsibility of a high order. To recount great experiences of fatherhood is not to slight or mock those without such positive experiences. Personally, my father has been a rock and an exceptional source of inspiration to me. I will never forget a renowned journalist of blessed memory-Agwu Nwogo, after recounting my Dad’s moral uprightness and impeccable reputation, telling my siblings and me never to forget who our father is. It stuck with me till today even during my youthful exuberant years. I also always remember one of my very close friends being so surprised to see my Dad and I having some talk in my room during our teenage years. Unfortunately, he wished to have such relationship with his own Dad.
Some of us call people who are neither our biological nor adoptive fathers, Father. Why? Because of the care, love, and guide, they gave or still give us. In our secondary school days in the Seminary, we called and still call Reverend Oguike, a priest who was special to all of us, Father. He was then yet to have a biological child but remained a father to all of us. Many have such fatherly relationships.
According to an Islamic blog article- How to Be a Father in Islam, in Islam, the role of the father in the life of his child is paramount. The Qur’an likens this relationship to that of the sun
When Joseph said unto his father: O my father! Lo! I saw in my dream 11 stars and the sun and the moon prostrating towards me. (Yusuf 12:4)
It is well known that the eleven stars represented the brothers of Yusuf (peace be upon him). However, according to Al-Tabari (a renowned Muslim scholar), the sun represents the father. The article goes on to outline 5 ways to be a great father:
- Passionately love your wife. The Prophet (PBUH) said about `A’ishah (may God be pleased with her): “I love this woman”.
- Be a Man of Integrity–or your words will fall on deaf ears. It is said that a man’s worth is found in his words.
- Your Children’s Importance to you can be measured by how much time you spend with them.
- You, more than anyone else, can give your children lifelong self-worth. Our children build their worth from our words and actions. Avoid being negative and saying: ‘you always do things wrong’. Such words are like bricks that lay the foundation of our future men and women. It is important to give them support and love. God describes noble words as ‘a good tree’.
- Communicate as a family. As a father, it is easy to push one’s opinions on the household. However, it is not necessarily the most fruitful method. Talking and listening to others will further allow them to feel that you truly respect them and value their thoughts and ideas
According to a Christian website, there is a strong divine believe in fathers. It goes on to write how highly regarded fatherhood is by outlining that Christians believe:
- In the Father As “the ideal of the man who puts his family first.”
- That “by divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible for providing the necessities of life and protection for their families.”
- That in their complementary family duties, “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
- That far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable.
“In short, the key for men is to be fathers. The key for children is to have fathers. The key for society is to create fathers. While these considerations are certainly true and important, we know that fatherhood is much more than a social construct or the product of evolution. The role of a father is of divine origin, beginning with a Father in Heaven and, in this mortal sphere, with Father Adam.”
“For men, fatherhood exposes us to our own weaknesses and our need to improve. Fatherhood requires sacrifice, but it is a source of incomparable satisfaction, even joy. Again, the ultimate model is our Heavenly Father, who so loved us, His spirit children, that He gave us His Only Begotten Son for our salvation and exaltation.”
Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Fathers manifest that love as they lay down their lives day by day, laboring in the service and support of their families
To be a great father, the writer admonished:
Teach and nurture: “And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.”
“That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”
Discipline and correct: As Paul said, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.”
But in discipline, a father must exercise particular care, lest there be anything even approaching abuse, which is never justified. When a father provides correction, his motivation must be love and his guide the Holy Spirit:
“That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”
Provide and maintain: The Lord has said that “all children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.”
Breadwinning is a consecrated activity. Providing for one’s family, although it generally requires time away from the family, is not inconsistent with fatherhood—it is the essence of being a good father. “Work and family are overlapping domains.”
“Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another. …
Love and care for the mother: Loving the mother of his children—and showing that love—are two of the best things a father can do for his children. This reaffirms and strengthens the marriage that is the foundation of their family life and security
To young men, take cognizant of your future role as a provider and protector, and start now to strategically position yourself. Live your life so that as a man you will bring purity to your marriage and to your children
To all the rising generation, no matter where you rank your father, decide to honor him and your mother. It is every father’s longing as expressed by John: ‘’I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.’’
To the fathers of the Church, you may wish to be a better father. You may wish to be a better provider. Notwithstanding our constraints, let’s keep fighting on. Surely, despite our inadequacies, our Heavenly Father will magnify us and cause our simple efforts to bear fruit
A good father makes all the difference in a child’s life. He’s a pillar of strength, support, and discipline. His work is endless and, oftentimes, thankless. But in the end, it shows in the sound, well-adjusted children he raises.
To the aspiring fathers, God will make all things beautiful in His time and you will count your blessings. Only continue to prepare yourself.
In addition to admonitions of the spiritual authorities, in an article in askmen.com, it is generally expected of a good father to:
- Lead by example
- Accept that his kids are not exactly like him
- Be open minded
- Spend quality time with his children
- Be Supportive And Loyal
- Challenge His Kids
- Teaches His Kids Lessons
- Protect His Family, No Matter What
- Show Unconditional Love
Above all the gifts, toys and other things, you could give your kids as a father, believe in them. Let them grow to say, like Jim Valvano,
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”
How can you be an ideal father? Feel free to make an addition.