Recently, I watched a clip of a comedian compare Mother’s Day as the second most celebrated holiday after Christmas (first it’s Jesus, then yo’ momma!) to Father’s Day, which he lamented was a lowly 16th place.
Of course, it was played for laughs but as with many things there is an element of the truth within.
Fathers often feel as though they don’t matter, are underappreciated and that their main function is that of an ATM.
Even using the word “feel” is difficult as many of us fathers and men in general are apparently expected to have no feelings. We are trapped in that “man” box.
However, global and local evidence shows a clearer picture.
The 2019 State of the World’s Fathers Report notes that 85 per cent of fathers want to be much more involved in the care of their children, especially during early childhood.
It also notes the need for adequate paternity leave measures in support of this.
The 2021 report is being launched on June 16 and is promoted online locally by the Caribbean Male Action Network—CariMAN (of which I am a member).
There are other examples. The existence and strong voice (sometimes viewed as controversial) of the Fathers’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago (originally Single Fathers Association) came about because men locally have countless stories of what they indicate are discriminatory judgments against them by the family court system.
On June 16, they will host a panel discussion on “Fatherhood in Society”. CariMAN has launched the Men’s Pledge (see cariman.org) and other initiatives addressing gender-based violence.
And across T&T there are numerous examples of men engaging, mentoring, seeking advice on fatherhood and other positive endeavours. A lot of this is now online and through social media, given the realities of Covid-19.
What does this all mean? That as Father’s Day 2021 approaches the narrative is changing. The rest of society needs to acknowledge and encourage it as the benefits will be immense.
Fathers are also caregivers, not baby-sitters, not part-timers, not “atms”, but actual parents. If society shows that we matter, just maybe we will continue to be better and there is only profit to be had in a community of caring, involved fathers.