Viewpoint

June 17, 2024

Unsung heroes: Celebrating Fathers beyond Father’s Day

Father’s Day:

By KAYODE OJEWALE

A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way. – Unknown

Father’s Day, celebrated annually on the third Sunday of June, is a special occasion dedicated to honouring and appreciating the contributions, sacrifices and love of fathers and father-figures. While Mother’s Day often receives widespread attention and celebration, Father’s Day sometimes seems to take a back seat. Yet, the role of a father is equally pivotal in shaping the lives of children and the dynamics of the family. This day provides a chance to reflect on the importance of fathers and recognise the profound impact they have on our lives.

Traditionally, fathers were seen primarily as providers and disciplinarians. However, the role of fathers has evolved significantly over the years. Today, fathers are not just breadwinners but also nurturers, caregivers and active participants in their children’s lives. This shift reflects broader changes in societal norms and family dynamics, where the emphasis is now on shared parenting responsibilities. Modern fathers are more involved in day-to-day child-rearing activities. From changing diapers and preparing meals to helping with homework and attending school events, fathers today play a hands-on role in their children’s upbringing. This active involvement helps build stronger bonds between fathers and their children and contributes to the overall well-being and development of the child.

Research consistently shows that children benefit from having involved and loving fathers. A father’s presence and engagement positively influence a child’s cognitive development, academic achievement and social-emotional well-being. Children with involved fathers are more likely to perform better in school, exhibit healthier self-esteem, and develop strong social skills. Fathers also serve as role models for their children, particularly in demonstrating how to navigate the world, manage relationships, and handle responsibilities. Sons often look to their fathers for examples of masculinity and fatherhood, while daughters frequently view their fathers as a standard for future relationships with men. The values, behaviours, and attitudes that fathers exhibit can leave lasting impressions on their children.

Conversely, the absence of a father or father- figure can have significant negative impacts on a child’s development. Studies have shown that children who grow up without a father are at a higher risk of developing behavioural problems, academic struggles, and emotional issues. Without a father’s guidance, children may lack the structure and discipline that are crucial during formative years. This can lead to wayward behaviour, as children without father-figures often struggle with setting boundaries and making responsible choices.

The significance of a father’s role is further emphasized when considering these outcomes. A father provides not only physical and financial support but also emotional stability, mentorship, and a sense of security. This paternal presence helps children navigate life’s challenges more effectively and builds a foundation of trust and confidence. By being actively involved in their children’s lives, fathers help foster resilience, responsibility and respect, which are essential traits for personal development and social interaction.

Despite the rewards and joys of fatherhood, it comes with its own set of challenges. Balancing work and family life is one of the most significant hurdles faced by modern fathers. The pressure to excel in their careers while being present and active at home can be overwhelming. This balancing act requires constant adjustment and often involves making sacrifices in one area to succeed in another. Moreover, societal expectations and stereotypes about masculinity can add to the pressures faced by fathers. The traditional notion that men should be stoic, unemotional, and solely focused on providing financially can hinder fathers from expressing their emotions and seeking help when needed. Breaking free from these stereotypes is crucial for fathers to embrace their roles fully and contribute to a more inclusive and supportive family environment.

Father’s Day is an opportunity to show appreciation and gratitude for the fathers and father- figures in our lives. Celebrating this day can take many forms, from simple gestures of love and acknowledgment to grand celebrations. Thoughtful gifts that reflect a father’s interests and hobbies can make the day special. Spending quality time together can be one of the most cherished gifts. The key is to create lasting memories and strengthen the bond between father and child. Recognise your father’s contributions on social media or in a family gathering. Publicly acknowledging his efforts and expressing gratitude can make him feel valued and celebrated.

The love and guidance of a father extend beyond the immediate family, creating a ripple effect that influences communities and societies at large. Fathers who are engaged and supportive contribute to raising responsible, empathetic, and well-rounded individuals. These individuals, in turn, are more likely to become positive contributors to society. Moreover, the changing dynamics of fatherhood challenge outdated gender roles and promote a more equitable distribution of parenting responsibilities. When fathers take on nurturing and caregiving roles, it encourages a culture of shared responsibility and partnership within families. This shift not only benefits children but also promotes gender equality and supports the well-being of both parents.

While Father’s Day is a special occasion to honour fathers, the appreciation and recognition of their role should extend beyond a single day. Celebrating fatherhood daily involves acknowledging their efforts, supporting their involvement in family life, and fostering open communication and emotional connection. Encouraging fathers to participate in parenting workshops, support groups and community activities can also help them navigate the challenges of fatherhood and build a network of support. By creating environments that value and support fathers, we can ensure that they have the resources and encouragement they need to thrive in their roles.

Father’s Day is more than just a date on the calendar; it is a reminder of the invaluable contributions that fathers make to their families and society. As we celebrate this day, let us take the time to honour and appreciate the fathers and father-figures who have shaped our lives with their love, dedication and sacrifices. By acknowledging their importance and supporting their involvement, we can create a society where fatherhood is celebrated and cherished not just on a particular day but every day.

*Ojewale of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, wrote via [email protected]