Saturday, 6 September 2008

father's day

tomorrow is the one day we set aside in the year to recognise fathers. much like mother's day, this can seem more of an insult than a celebration ie every day should be a day when father's are valued and recognised. why reserve only one day in the year for it?

but what can i say, my girls have been looking forward to father's day, and preparing for it. it means something to them, and who am i to take away that special moment they'll have with father tomorrow? at least i've instilled enough of my values into them that they don't feel the need to spend huge amounts of money to show their love. a home-made card and a home-made banana cake (with a box of chocolates) show more love and attention than any fancy gift could have done.

so a day to reflect on fatherhood. fathers don't tend to get much good press these days. the focus tends to be on the absent ones, and the ones who fail to pay their child support. as an accountant, i've seen my fair share of self-employed fathers setting up trusts or companies in order to avoid paying child support.

poneke talks about the outrageous slur on fathers by a cop in a kindergarten. as an aside, while i don't believe that 1 in 4 girls were abused by their fathers, i do believe that 1 in 4 girls has suffered childhood sexual abuse. i base this belief on the personal experiences of women i know. ok, a subjective test, but i can't believe that the sample of women i know is so much different to the norm. nonetheless, i do concur with his anger at the behaviour of this particular police officer.

then there are this lot, who are planning to give simon power a hard time to try to get some attention. as well as burning the flag, and various other goings-on. i wonder if these worthy fellows think about the kind of role-models they are providing for their own children. i have no problem with protests (having been on quite a few myself) nor with off-the-wall activism designed to capture headlines, but the kind of harassment that is being dished out here hinders the cause rather than helping it.

part of the problem with fatherhood is the changing roles of men and women in our society, of which plenty has been written by better minds than me. we're in a period when relationships are being redefined, old structures are falling apart while new ones develop. it's an odd period of change, and no wonder everyone's a little confused.

i've been thinking about what i want from the father of my children (for them of course, not for me!). these would be some of the most important:

1. that he should love them more than anything else in the world, and let them feel that love, be aware of it every moment of they're awake.

2. that he should bolster their confidence, and make sure they know that they are wonderful people. his children should not go through life feeling that they are a disappointment to him.

3. that his relationship with them should be such that they feel comfortable telling him about their problems.

4. that he should listen to them, comfort and support them in their times of sorrow and celebrate their successes with them.

5. that he should provide financial security for them while they are children, and provide them with the education and skills necessary to develop their own financial security as adults.

6. that he should accept their choices (as long as they're legal!) even when his children take a path that is different from what he wanted for them, at all times remembering that we don't own our children.

7. that he should provide boundaries for them, and let them know clearly and firmly what's right and wrong. oh and that he should live by these values as well!

i'm sure i could think of plenty more, if i spent more time at it. looking through the list, i realise that these are all things i expect from myself as a mother as well. so what makes fathering different? i'm not sure i can say, other than i know there are some things my girls will share with me that they won't share with him. had i been a mother of boys, that may have been different.

of course no-one is perfect, and not all fathers will be all those 7 things at all times. for those not-so-good days, as long as they can achieve number 1 on my list, that will be more than sufficient thank you.

of course there are many wonderful fathers out there, who struggle and sometimes come up short, but have done their best and raised wonderful children. you're stars, all of you. i hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow, and that you're families take the time to let you know how special you are.

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