How to celebrate Father’s Day even when dad is absent.
I’m not going to wax lyrical about those of us who are good Dads, those of us who know and understand our roles as fathers, those of us who go the extra mile, those of us who know that this silly little commercialised day is as significant to our ego as a fart in the wind. But hats off to you if you fall into this category, keep it up and spread your good energy to other Dads
I do however, want to pay tribute to the millions of moms out there who due to absent fathers, have had to assume the role of “Mommy Daddy.” This weekend (Father’s Day and Youth Day), I’ve been invited to address a group of single mothers raising their kids on their own. I still haven’t figured out exactly what I’m going to say to them. Should I focus on the negatives, bad mouth the absent fathers? Should I praise their efforts and encourage them to continue to go it alone? Should I tell them to force the issue with the Dads, using all means necessary, including legal, to force a relationship of some sort between the fathers and their children?
I guess I’ll see what happens when I stand before them. What I do know, as we all do, is that you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. And the same sentiment applies to absent parenting. There is a lot of emotion and hurt attached to failed relationships and its impact on parenting and our biggest challenge is dealing with that emotion. We need to make sure that the anger and toxicity of the adult relationship does not infect the parental relationship with the child concerned.
In practical terms what this means is that, by all means exhaust the options open to you to make sure the other parent is involved as it pertains to their legal responsibilities. As a young journalist I used to sit in during court appearances and one of the lasting memories of that part of my career was witnessing a grown man reduced to a blubbering mess when the magistrate asked him if he had brought his toothbrush (implying that he was going to jail, for yet again not meeting his maintenance payments.)
However, if the man still refuses to have a relationship with his child, let it be. Time will ensure that he will have the opportunity to face his kid, probably as an adult and will have to explain. Do not let your anger over a situation you cannot control affect the way you raise your child. That anger and emotional immaturity will be absorbed by the child and manifest in the same way later in their life.
On the flip side, to those men who want to be a part of their children’s lives, but are prohibited from doing so for whatever reason, my counsel is the same. Do all you can to be a part of your child’s life, but do not let you anger and resentment towards the mother reduce you to bitterness. The time will come when the mother will also have to explain.Making the most out of life
In the meantime, focus on fostering new relationships with individuals who can add to your happiness. Life is too short to dwell on recurring anger and sadness. My message to Fathers and Mothers on Father’s Day is to let go of whatever issues you may have (if you have a dysfunctional relationship with the other parent that is) and even if it is just for today (Father’s Day), do something different that will bring you all a bit of joy.
My gift to you all on Father’s day is my Free Parenting eBook, Parenting Tips by Marlon Abrahams. Sms the keyword 'parent' followed by a space and your email address to 47439 (R3.00/sms) to receive your own copy, or even send another sms with the email address of your favourite father figure or even Mommy Daddy
and surprise them with this Free gift. Read more by Marlon Abrahams.
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.Who are the father figures in your life?