Father’s Day in Guyana was adopted from the commemorative day that was founded in Washington in the United States by Sonora Smart Dodd as a tribute to her single dad. Father’s Day was celebrated on the third Sunday of June for the first time in 1910.
Businesses recognise that celebrants of this day would want to make the day special for the paternal figures in their lives with gifts, gourmet foods and special beverages, so in weeks prior to the celebratory day, they usually stock up various commodities in anticipation of the volume of projected sales. Ironically, it is the traditional family wage-earner whose money is most often used to buy his own gifts. However, many sensible, enterprising mothers, recognising the significance of the celebratory day, encourage their children to create their gifts for their fathers, because those have more value than store-bought ones. Sentimental fathers often display these hand-crafted gifts in prominent places in the home.
The role fathers play in their children’s lives is incalculable in the character –building and personality-formation of young minds. Fathers who are derelict in their responsibilities towards their children lose golden bonding opportunities with future adults who could become their best and most loving companions.
The legendary love and trust between girls and their fathers and boys and their mothers, and between children and their parents as a family unit, have no parallels in human relations, except in many instances between grandchildren and grandparents.
However, single parenthood precipitates many ills in families and societies. Fractured families are most often caused by delinquent fathers who shirk their responsibilities to their families in selfish pursuits; but there can also be other contributory factors, such as job-related instances or health reasons – or even death – that consequence a woman to bear the burdens (and joys) of parenting children alone.
Worldwide, single mothers are forced to assume the roles of both parents. One of the greatest challenges of single mothers who lack spousal support is safe care for their children. There are many instances of role reversal, where single men are sole parental caregivers for their children. Forward-thinking employers are providing subsidised childcare facilities in the recognition that man hours are lost because of this problem faced by many parents. Staffed with professionals, which often includes a nurse, parents are assured of the safety and well-being of their children.
Delinquent fathers often breed delinquent children. Lack of a male role model and an authority figure in their lives – which only a caring, responsible father can provide – has been irrefutably proven by statistics to often cause children to fall prey to societal predators, even criminals.
One official has said that he considers non-payment of child support a form of child abuse. Custodial and support problems that arise from divorce can also cause irreversible emotional and psychological harm to children, especially when fathers walk away from their children to start new families.
There is a societal backlash against the flight of men from the bonds of family life, in that young girls who are seeking an equivalent father figure often fall victims to paedophiles, with related problems such as school drop-outs, child pregnancies, abusive relations, etcetera, with a recurrent nightmarish continuum of self-destructive behaviour.
Similarly, boys who grow up in fatherless homes are often lured into anti-social, even criminal, behaviours.
Men have been engaged in a massive migration away from their children for centuries. Statistics worldwide indicate that divorce rates are nearly tripling, and out-of-wedlock birth rates more than quadrupling since 1960. Demographers say the typical male spends a smaller portion of his adult life living with his children than ever before.
“There’s a growing realisation that the increase in fatherlessness constitutes a clear and present danger, not only to the children, but to the long-term health and success of our society,” said David Blankenhorn, President of the Institute for American Values, a New York-based organisation concerned with family issues.
Fathers who shower their families with love and care, and bring up and nurture their children into mature adults who are confident of their individual human worth, are rare treasures in the demographics of families and societies, because their worth is incalculable; and every day they should be celebrated, with Father’s Day merely providing a platform for expressions of appreciation for excellence in paternal parenting.