Father’s Day: Why we should celebrate this resilient species
Fatherhood. One big word that carries such a wide variety of meanings; hero, provider, caregiver, mentor, coach, cheerleader, role model, golden standard. We could go on and on the positive attributes of fathers. To the world, they may be just another group of men going about their business, but they mean the world to their children.
The job also comes with life-long responsibilities – and no job description. One must figure it out along the way as one does the job. The one thing about fatherhood is that it is its own reward. From the moment a child is born, to the point at which they start calling out “baba”, when they walk down the aisle with the loves of their lives, up to the point when they are in their prime and start parenting their fathers, the journey is both as exciting as it is scaring.
In Kenya, fathers play a big role in shaping out their children eventually turn out. Fathers who make a conscious decision to invest in good quality education for their children — sometimes choosing to forego
their own needs — influence society’s destiny given education’s potential to create long-term wealth.
But what happens to the fathers whose hearts are willing, but whose circumstances have conspired to make the dreams of their children hard to reach? Does that make them bad fathers? In short, should fathers be judged on the strength of their character, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jnr, or should they solely be judged on their ability to provide?
That appears to be the dilemma that many fathers grapple with today. It is not easy to find the right course, especially when times and tide work against a man’s best intentions. And that is what makes fatherhood such a daunting responsibility.
Even when a dad is carrying the weight of their children’s world on his shoulders, not everyone can see how this is weighing him down. And that, to an extent, explains why fathers grapple with mental health challenges. Everyone around them expect fathers to be strong pillars. They expect fathers to overcome all obstacles in their way. This is what makes it hard for fathers to rise up and keep walking again after they fall. When Covid-19 hit over the last two years, fathers felt the most acute pain; they suffered from it because they had to go out and earn their daily bread, they paid medical bills for their loved ones, and when companies started shrinking, they paid the price of losing their jobs.
Then, more than at any other time, fathers needed someone they could lean on. They needed someone to hold their calloused hands and speak to their broken hearts. Today we celebrate this resilient species that knows the word defeat, but still refuse to acknowledge it. Stand strong fathers. We are because you are. To fathers!