Father makes family strong
Even a casual reading of magazines or opinion polls show the 21st century as 'time without father', 'civilisation without father', 'society without father'. One can see that father's identity has been lost, and father does not fulfil his function. A child needs both parents to have normal growth. How can we restore the due place to fatherhood? How can the gap, which absent, immature fathers, usually called big kids, make, be bridged? And how are we not to forget these fathers who are examples for their children and who fulfil themselves as fathers and are proud of their roles?
The biggest immigration of our times is the immigration of fathers leaving their children. The contemporary world demands involvement and professional activities from men, which has a negative influence on their decisions to marry and being conscious parents. Fathers spend less and less time at home. They work in other places, must be mobile, prepared to change forms of work, ready to participate in courses and trainings. Children often have no idea what their fathers do, fathers whom they see at weekends. Sometimes fathers kiss their children when they are asleep, before they leave for work, and then they kiss them when they are already in bed... Consequently, the family relationship is broken and we face the situation that mothers take on upbringing when fathers are absent and fathers do not follow changes in their children's growth. But the saddest thing is that children ignore fathers' opinions and fathers have no time to mature to their fatherhood and be proud of it. Even if some father spends time with his child they are emotionally separated. Fatherhood, which is an experience, requires men to have time to be fathers. Therefore, one cannot be an external father.
Father (not) present
Many adults feel resentment towards their fathers because they did not play with them, did not take them for walks, did not talk about their problems when they were children. They were hurt by indifference, withdrawal, and negligence. But a child will always remember his father's words 'I am proud of you' or 'I love you'. Children will always recollect building castles on sand with their fathers or will recollect fathers teaching them to ride a bike, will remember a walk in the forest, reading fairy tales, pitching a camp, carrying them piggyback as well as playing football together. Healthy relationships are built on father's ideal, father who was with his child, looked after it, was responsible for his family, made a learning-friendly environment and motivated his child to study. An upright character of a son and a good example of a man for a daughter cannot be formed without the testimony of the father's life. And a good father is the one who respects and loves his wife - mother of his children.
Fathers used to support their families, were patriarchs, protectors, authorities, mediators and dealt with the most important family matters. Today, fathers are mothers' partners, aggressors, alcoholics or losers whose words do not count. They can also be their children's mates. Thus a contemporary boy cannot find an ideal of man and does not know what it means to be a father and husband. The statistics show that if a father is missing in the process of upbringing, the mother cannot teach her son what maleness is. So he will learn from the media or his companions. Surfing in the Internet he learns that men have sex outside marriage and without considering the dignity of human person. Playing games on the computer he learns that being a man means being able to commit aggression. He can see in bookshops that magazines for men are pornographic. And who is he to learn faith in God from?
The crisis of fatherhood can be a sparkle that will begin fight for mature fatherhood, happy childhood and healthy families. There are many fathers who want to grow up to fatherhood because they know that even the dearest toy or best computer will not replace mature love. To meet the needs of families, within the framework of St Cyril and St Methodius Foundation, Tato.Net initiative was created. It is a network of fathers who want to share their experiences, knowledge and abilities. Using the web page www.tato.net, and magazine 'Tato.net', trainings, conferences, publications as well as opinion polls and researches, the initiative helps men develop the vision of responsible fatherhood and build individual plans of being active and fulfilled parents. Emphasizing that family is strong by father's presence and father's heart should be returned to his child, the initiative states that the task of every man is to mature to fatherhood. It is time for renewal. Children are worth it!
This text is based on the conference entitle 'Fatherhood vs. contemporary challenges', organized by Fundacja Cyryla i Metodego (Ks. W. Danielskiego 10, 20-806 Lublin, tel./fax: 081/527-99-13; www.tato.net; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) within the framework of the project 'Let us give back child father's heart'. The conference was held on 25 October in Lublin.