By Mutryce A. Williams
It was the Reverend Bill Graham who said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” This week’s issue of Navigating “Island” Parenting provides reflections for fathers as they celebrate Father’s Day.
Navigating “Island” Parenting is a submission of quotes, tips and parenting advice that I have gathered over the years as a source of inspiration and as tools to deal with the daily challenges of parenting. The hope is that this submission would make the journey of parenting a bit easier or brighter, even if it is for one person.
Parenting is hard work. We need as much support as possible. Given our culture, as parents we are also not apt to ask for help, as it expected that we already know everything. This is a fallacy that we have to overcome. As West Indians we also consider our way or style of parenting to be the best way of parenting, but any good thing can be made even better.
I am also aware that with the heightened political climate that there is anxiety and tension, parents can become easily overwhelmed. Let us not forget life’s everyday challenges, any bit of advice or support that would help us navigate island parenting can go a long way.
Fathers, like mothers are not born. Men grow into fathers and fathering is a very important stage in their development.” David Gottesman
Having Children Doesn’t Make You a Father — Raising Them Does!
Are You A Great Father?
Have you taken responsibility of your child?
Do you provide for your child?
Are you a good disciplinarian?
Do you love your child unconditionally?
Are you affectionate with your child?
Are you there when your child needs you?
Do you spend quality time with your child?
Do you enjoy spending time with your child?
Are you patient with your child?
Does your child trust you?
Do you respect your child?
Do you respect your child’s mother?
Do you communicate well with your child?
Are you open-minded?
Do you allow your child to make some mistakes?
Do you accept your child for who he or she is?
Do you teach your child life lessons?
Do you lead by example?
Are you a supportive father?
Do you protect your child?
Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity they think of you. H. Jackson Browne Jr.
Reflective Quotes for Fathers
A man’s worth is measured by how he parents his children. What he gives them, what he keeps away from them, the lessons he teaches and the lessons he allows them to learn on their own. Lisa Rogers
Every dad, if he takes time out of his busy life to reflect upon his fatherhood, can learn ways to become an even better dad. Jack Baker
I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection. Sigmund Freud
That anyone could father a child, but a real man chooses to be a dad.” J. Sterling, The Perfect Game
It is easy for a father to have children than for children to have a real father. Pope John XXIII
It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. Johann Schiller
“A child looks up at the stars and wonders. Great fathers put a child on his shoulders and helps them to grab a star.” Reed Markham
“A child playing with its father screams louder, laughs harder, jumps more eagerly, puts more faith in everything.” Lydia Netzer
“Of all the titles that I’ve been privileged to have, the title of ‘dad’ has always been the best.” Ken Norton
“An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. [speaking of George MacDonald]” C.S. Lewis, Phantastes
“The greatest lessons I learned from my father didn’t come from lectures or discipline or even time spent together. What has stuck with me is his example. From watching, I chose whether to be or not to be like him.” Richelle E. Goodrich
My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me. Jim Valvano
“Behind every great man is a man greater, his father.” Habeeb Akande
“I talk and talk and talk and I haven’t taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.” Mario Coumo
One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters. George Herbert
“Since human fatherhood, as a reflection of the Fatherhood of God, was designed to be the pillar of the family, the disappearance of esteem for fatherhood has led to the collapse of that pillar and to the disintegration of the family.” Joseph A. Cirrincione, St Joseph, Fatima and Fatherhood
A boy needs a father to show him how to be in the world. He needs to be given swagger, taught how to read a map so that he can recognize the roads that lead to life and the paths that lead to death, how to know what love requires, and where to find steel in the heart when life makes demands on us that are greater than we think we can endure.” Ian Morgan Cron, Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir…of Sorts
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. Ruth E. Renkel
You may have thought I didn’t see,
Or that I hadn’t heard,
Life lessons that you taught to me,
But I got every word.
Perhaps you thought I missed it all,
And that we’d grow apart,
But Dad, I picked up everything,
It’s written on my heart.
Without you, Dad, I wouldn’t be
The (woman)(man) I am today;
You built a strong foundation
No one can take away.
I’ve grown up with your values,
And I’m very glad I did;
So here’s to you, dear father,
From your forever grateful kid.
By Joanna Fuchs
By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder, infinitely prouder to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven.” General Douglas MacArthur
Fatherhood – The story of knowledge acquired too late. Ben Fountain
“Much of life, fatherhood included, is the story of knowledge acquired too late: if only I’d known then what I know now, how much smarter, abler, stronger, I would have been. But nothing really prepares you for kids, for the swells of emotion that roll through your chest like the rumble of boulders tumbling downhill, nor for the all-enveloping labor of it, the sheer mulish endurance you need for the six or seven hundred discrete tasks that have to be done each and every day. Such a small person! Not much bigger than a loaf of bread at first, yet it takes so much to keep the whole enterprise going. Logistics, skills, materiel; the only way we really learn is by figuring it out as we go along, and even then it changes on us every day, so we’re always improvising, which is a fancy way of saying that we’re doing things we technically don’t know how to do.”
One of the biggest needs in our generation is for men to step into the lives of boys to train them, equip them, and cheer them on to grow up as they begin the process of manning up. Dennis Rainey — Stepping Up.
I really don’t believe that there is a man in this world who doesn’t want to accept the responsibility of being a father, what I rather believe is that because of fear or lack of courage he shuns his responsibility, as he is afraid that he is not properly equipped to be a model for the new life that he has created. He is afraid that he would be inadequate, and that he has nothing meaningful to contribute to the well being or development of this child. If he has not had past successes in his life, or even a father to teach him how to be a father, he retreats even deeper into himself, as he can’t stand the thought of being a failure to the one person that he secretly treasures and holds good, so in order not to tarnish it, he stays away.
Think on it, even the men who have not “accepted” “supported” or “taken” their children as we say in our vernacular, still have a little smile or sense of pride at the mention of the child, now the mention of the other parent may be another story, but that’s for another edition of Navigating “Island” Parenting.
We need to take a serious look at the factors that are preventing our men from being the fathers that our West Indian society requires, and the fathers that our children deserve. Is it that they are just “good for nothings?” In our society it is very easy to label men as ‘worthless’ or ‘dirty’ but if we really sit with them and get to the heart of the matter we would realize that a lot of their behaviours stem from fear.
The quote by Dennis Rainey calls for men to step up into the lives of boys, and this is indeed true, I can’t speak for men however as I am a woman, but I firmly believe that we all need to play a role in eradicating a generation of fatherless children. As a woman I can say that mothers play a vital role in shaping the ideals of future fathers, mothers are the ones doing the majority of the parenting. This requires our setting our sons free, cutting the navel or apron string, so that they can go out and be men, go out and be the fathers that they never had, and we need to encourage them that even if they did not have fathers that this is no excuse to not try, ‘nothings beats a failure but a trial.’
I think too many of our sons hear, “I raise all my children without the help of any man.” This stays with them, and they in turn may not truly understand how hard it is to parent a child, as the message that we are indirectly sending is that a ‘woman can raise a child all by herself; a man is really not needed.” Our daughters have heard us say it as well, and when they enter into relationships they throw this line to the men, and what do the men do they leave, because the women have declared that they can do the job themselves. What men need to hear is that no woman truly wants to raise a child by herself. If she has to, of course she will, but given a choice a woman would rather have the support of the child’s father, and I am not just referring to financial support.
What we can do is take a look at past generations, and also our culture. What is the father’s role? What does he perceive his role to be? Is he just the breadwinner or the man who brings the “child support” every Friday evening? Is his role diminished if he can’t provide the funds? Is the court’s number on speed dial should he fail to produce the funds? Is he still allowed to see the child if he comes empty-handed? Is he permitted to develop a healthy relationship with the child if the relationship with the child’s mother ends? Does he have the support that he needs from society, other men, or his family in his quest to become a good father?
What men need to hear also, and both parents need to understand is that the end of a romantic relationship does not mean the end of one’s parenting responsibility, the relationship changes so that both parents may effectively, respectfully and unselfishly parent the child. The message needs to be sent loud and clear that fathers are needed. Fathers are important. Fathers are required.