Understanding The Reality Of Father’s Day Celebrations.

By Richard Agwu

Father’s Day is a day set aside for honouring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of the fathers in their respective homes and the society at large. The day is celebrated internationally around the 3rdSunday in the month of June. For the year 2022, it falls on Sunday19 June, 2022. As we celebrate the 2022 father’s day, it is imperative to note that, it is a day to celebrate the man whose influence in our individual lives cannot be measured. This man doesn't have to be your biological father, it could be a man you perceive as a father figure or mentor in your life.

As Nigeria joins other countries to mark the 2022 Father’s Day, it is pertinent for us to understand the origin, the idea and why father’s day which is singular is used instead of the plural form of fathers’ and to understand much more about the day we all cherish to celebrate.

The importance of fatherhood in the family, society, and the nation can never be over-emphasised. As heads of their various homes, fathers would continue to chart the right way for their family to thread. Aside from providing for the needs of his immediate family, any responsible father should be able to defend his family from any form of aggression and danger.

Various accounts have been given on the origin of the father’s day. A version alludes that in 1907, a mining disaster in Monongah, West Virginia, killed about 361 workers including 250 fathers in which a local service was held the following year that eventually led to the celebration.

Another school of thought believes that the holiday was when a woman in 1909 began promoting the idea of a United States of America holiday for fathers because she was raised alongside five siblings by a single parent named William Jackson Dodd.

These qualities and principles were noted by Sonara Smart Dodd in 1909, in the life of her father, Williams Jackson Dodd who she said singlehandedly brought her and her sibling up after the death of their mother.

The Father’s Day as presently celebrated started in 1909 when Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Spokane, Washington. During the sermon, she was inspired to dedicate the day to her father who stood by them in the absence of their mother.

Sonora could realize the greatness of her father and how deeply his love and sacrifices have touched her. To pay a tribute to her great father, Sonora Smart Dodd held the first Father’s Day celebration on 19th of June 1910,(coincidentally same date the 2022 day holds) on the birthday of her father. She was the first to solicit the idea of having an official father’s day observance. However, unlike Mothers’ Day, which was readily accepted, Father’s Day was received with mockery and hilarity until 1913, when a bill in accordance with making the day official was introduced. The idea was later approved by US President, Woodrow Wilson in 1916. In 1924, the idea gained further momentum as it was approved by President Calvin Coolidge. In 1926, a National Father’s Day Committee was formed in New York City. However, it was thirty years later that a Joint Resolution of Congress gave recognition to Father’s Day. The Bill was passed as a singular father ,hence, the apostrophe ‘s for a singular father. Another 16 years passed before President Richard Nixon established the third Sunday of June, as permanent national observance day of Father’s Day in 1972.

And today, the United States is one of the few countries in the world that has an official day on which fathers are honoured by their children, celebrated on the third Sunday of June. Like Mothers’ Day, Father’s Day was not conceived by hallmark but from a daughter who was moved following the sacrifices, courage, selflessness and love from her father to them. The Father according to her did not abandoned the children in the midst of difficulties and ran to the arm of another woman, but stood on his ground to see them succeed.

Father’s Day celebration is therefore, a reflection of what the fathers have contributed to development of a family and individual members of the family, especially the children. Though, the celebration is not limited to the children alone; the mothers also see it as a day to show love and compassion to their husbands for being there to build the home with them.

Looking at how the fathers have faired in the light of the decaying socio-economic situations means different things to different folks. The complex nature of the evolving society has created a difficult scenario, whereby corruption and godfatherism that reign supreme provided avenues for fathers to be contaminated with irresponsibilities. Some men when faced with challenges resort to crime instead of seeking the wisdom of God. The challenges faced by Nigerian men have also left many of them in pitiable and criminal conditions. Cases abound in the country where fathers engage in shameful and unimaginable activities, unworthy of a father. This is why the father worth celebrating today is one that nurtured his children through thick and thin to greatness without giving excuses like some other fathers of this generation who will shirk their responsibilities at any giving circumstances.

Despite the breakdown in the value system in our country presently, there are still some fathers who are struggling without engaging in questionable ventures to see to it that all the necessities of their home are met in order to mould a united and happy family. The role of a good father deserving an honour in today’s society is to create in his children, morals that would guide them to become great people that would add value to the society. A great father is one that will resolve before God to take full responsibility for himself, his wife and his children. Those that have fathers worthy of honouring will tell the sweetness in the father being their role model.

Unfortunately, despite this reality that fathers are the backbones of their homes, many men are unable to meet up with the expected standards. The day should enable us to have a deep reflection that fathers remain critical within the family institution. It offers an opportunity to evaluate how fathers have been discharging their duties as the head of the family to correct any filial shortcomings. No doubt, enormous powers lie in the hands of fathers and father-figures. Hence, the use of these powers invariably has a profound impact on the lives of the children and other members of their households.

Today, an increase in social vices among youths can be traced to fathers’ absence in the training of their children right from infancy. As a result of this, many women have been made to become single mothers and solely nurturing their kids. This creates a problem for the proper upbringing of a child because for a child to be properly groomed with the right moral standards, the father should be contributory to the process by being physically available to give the time, resources and moral support. Men should never be found wanting in living up to their responsibilities in grooming their children and wards and avoid exposing them to social vices and moral ills.

Fatherhood is the ever a complex process that requires having the understanding and responsibilities of a man to his wife, children, and society at large. The absence of fathers in training the children has serious social menace and avoidable consequences such as divorce, which would eventually have a negative influence on the children. The family is better off when fathers and mothers stay together to raise the children. In doing this, they attempt to understand their differences, similarities and in the process, live happily together. The home is meant to be a place to celebrate and not a place to cause disaffection, hatred, and lack of respect. Fathers, as breadwinners, should stand up to their responsibilities, irrespective of the prevailing circumstance and conditions.

According to Wade F. Horn, Director, National Fatherhood Initiative, Washington DC, USA, fathers are important for the wellbeing of children. So, too, are traditional families. They ensure the continuity of civilization by propagating the species and socializing children. Everyone seems to understand the obvious benefits of propagation, but the important role that parents play in socializing children is widely misunderstood and undervalued’.

No matter what the advocates of “gender-free parenting” may say, mothers and fathers do parent differently. Mothers tend to be more verbal, whereas fathers are more physical. Mothers also tend to encourage personal safety and caution, whereas fathers are more challenging when it comes to achievement, independence, and risk-taking. And mothers tend to be stronger comforting figures than fathers who are more intent upon establishing and enforcing rules governing the behavior of their children

The fact that mothers and fathers parent differently is not to say that one group does it “right” or “better” than the other. What children need to develop good character is the combination of what mothers and fathers bring to the parenting equation. Take the fact that mothers tend to be nurturers and fathers tend to be disciplinarians. Parenting experts used to believe that families socialize children best when both parents adopt a nurturing but permissive role, demonstrating high levels of love and low levels of control.

Decades of research have shown, however, that when children are reared this way they act out through chronic bad behavior. Permissiveness as a “parenting style” simply doesn’t work. Boys and girls need a high level of nurturing balanced by a high level of control. Those who are reared in families that exhibit this combination are friendlier, more energetic, and better behaved. Those who are reared by single mothers, therefore, are warm and affectionate but have difficulty learning self-discipline. Conversely, those who are reared by single fathers are obedient but often plagued by anxiety and insecurity

This view contrasts sharply with the “two pair of hands” argument, which holds that when it comes to parenting, two people are better than one and it makes no difference whether they are mothers or fathers. In reality it matters greatly to whom the “two pairs of hands” are attached. Kids don’t need impersonal “caregivers”; they need loving moms and dads

Fathers have a role to play in the lives of so many not just their biological children but many of them that have no fathers by setting examples to lead an exemplary life. This vacuum becomes a big issue for a child as he/she grows up without a father. From infancy, children have a lot to learn from their parents. Fathers should ensure that they monitor their children, make sure that they are not drifting away, and letting children know that the eyes of their father are constantly on them.

Fathers should remember to be constructive in approaching the issues of life, pursue integrity, holiness, righteousness, be a critical thinker, and accept responsibilities. To make fathers truly fathers, they should be celebrated, allowed to eat from their toil by being paid their salaries and allowances to discharge their domestic responsibilities. To become great fathers requires putting the right things in place by every member of the family and society. This is when it matters and it becomes gladdening and worthy to celebrate father’s day.

Let it be noted that such care and love from their wives and children will go a long way in elongating their lives because they feel that people around them really care for them. But where contrary is the case particularly from their children whom they make a lot of sacrifices for we can share their pain like that found in William Shakespeare’s King Lear: “How sharper than a serpents tooth it is to have a thankless child”. Any child who on today’s occasion will not make time to appreciate his/her father will likely make him unhappy and invariably contribute to the shorting of his father’s life. Remember, a man at Washington was able to raise a lone six children on the farm as part of his contribution for the well being of the family. This is why children must make time to remember their father figures today. Really, there are such fathers who have made and are still making more sacrifices for their children and their homes because it is in their portfolio to do so. Yes, unless you look round and very deep too you may never discover such people although heaven may be aware of them and their enormous contributions. However, for the fathers who have gone to be with the Lord like the writer’s father, but played their roles well while alive, may their souls continue to rest in perfect peace. Amen!

Indeed, as we celebrate our fathers today, it is also good we place a note of caution because necessarily there are some fathers who are not living to the bidding of their responsibility. Often times, such fathers may glory more in keeping of mistresses, drinking and rabble rousing type of life to the detriment of their families. Of course, we have cases of broken homes dotted all over the places. But should it be so? However, the time in which we are in does not give room for irresponsible living.

Every father must take to heart the Biblical warning that says: “but if any provide not for his own and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel”, (1 Tim. 5:8). It, therefore, behooves all our fathers to step up their love and care for the family so that on an occasion such as father’s day today their wives and children unashamedly will celebrate them. Benjamin Franklin American (1706-1790) noted thus about a father: “he is a treasure, a brother, a comfort, a friend and is both”. Necessarily, a father should be a shoulder upon which every member of the family should cry upon. We, therefore, sincerely pray that our fathers will live out that for which God purposed for them.

As we celebrate our fathers today, It is our desire that God grant wisdom generously to every father to make amend in any way they have failed their children and wife.

May God bless all our fathers and grant them long life, prosperity and wisdom to raise godly home in Jesus name, Amen.

Happy Father’s Day to you all.

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