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Is fatherhood worth celebrating?

Source: Monica Taiwo - Nigeriafilms.com

BEING a father is not easy, it is one of the biggest tasks any man looks up to. Recently, the world celebrated Father's Day to honour and celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds, and their influence in the society. It complements the Mother's Day. But are men really worth celebrating?

One would wonder why men should be celebrated because when compared to women, many believe that men are not as valuable. The fact that most men hardly know anything about their children, their favourite food or colours, their performances in school, their dreams, and the fact that most of them spend less time with their families has made the Father's Day quite superfluous. Also, every woman wants a man she can be emotionally attached to, someone who shares her commitment as a partner and who will not place his career above the family life; most men do not fit into this picture.

"My father is not always around. He exerts his energy on his job and comes home late in the night. Sometimes, I wonder if I really had a dad. It is more of a mystery to me because the experience is the same for my friends," said a teenager when asked what he would love to buy for his father on the Father's Day.

Yet another commented, "I am not close to my dad. I don't like the way he yells at me whenever I ask him for things. Also, he hardly cares for our needs. Mum does all the neccessities."

Most men are grappling with how to keep their careers and sustain the family and in the process, spend less time with them. This is worse when the pressure is much and felt by the children. How do men become the fathers they ought to be so that celebrating them can be worthwhile? Here are tips to help:

• They have to trust their instincts and learn to live with chaos. This is hard because men are used to being able to manage by doing one thing at a time. In the realm of family life, they have to deal with the unexpected constantly. Men need to accept the realities of family life: Things get dirty, they don't happen the way they want or plan. Things are going to be messy, emotionally and psychologically.

•Men have to learn to shoulder responsibilities without being told, as well as to pick up on moods, this is something women do. Picking up on how everybody is doing. Figuring out if something is up or doesn't seem right, is a part of parenting that is seldom acknowledged. It is so important for men to get good at it.

•Men also need to speak up to each other, to their bosses, and to their wives because only good things will come out of their efforts.

•They should also share time with their children. Most children with involved fathers do better in school than those that have less connected fathers. They don't only do better in academics, they are strong social learners as well, feeling more satisfaction with school and friends. This is not to say that the father's touch is a guarantee, but it reassures the children that having a dad in their lives, or someone who acts like one and feels like one, is an enduring resource for them.

•Men need to seek out time to be with their children, as most mothers do. That is probably why most children are attached to their mothers. Children need frequent, undivided and genuine attention and interest. There is no substitute for those precious times that make a child feel loved, valued, and worthy. Children know when their fathers are feigning interest in their stories, half-heartedly playing games with them, or mentally preoccupied. They know when they are faking it, and in their minds, you are loudly proclaiming that you would rather be elsewhere, that you are uninterested in them and in their world. Turn off the television, shut off the computer and take that call another time after your children are in bed.