Being abandoned by a father is painful and has a negative impact on a childÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life. However, some fathers who have abandoned their children realise their mistake and would like to return to their families but are held back by the childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resentment. Fletcher Simwaka examines the other side of the coin.
Twenty-year-old Stella Victor is very angry with her father. She cannot come to terms with the reality of living without a father who divorced her mother for another woman 10 years ago.
“The impact of divorce weighs heavily on me and has affected my education.
“But God is great. One day, my father will see the folly of his conduct,” says the girl who comes from Mulanje and is now employed as a maid.
It is such statements that frighten Amata Phiri, of Chilomoni, from going back to his home village in Ntcheu and reuniting with the wife and children he dumped 12 years ago.
Phiri is too ashamed to face his children, who may not take his suggestion of reunion kindly.
His fears could be genuine, especially if one listens to a bitterness-tinged story like that of Stella.
Running away from family responsibilities is becoming a common phenomenon, especially among poverty-stricken homes where fathers end up in new families wherever they go.
This renders the possibility of a reunion all but illusory, taking into account that the grown-up children could not easily accept back their runaway father.
But social and religious experts argue that parent-child reunion is possible, contending that all it takes is a well-meaning parent and child to reconcile.
Chancellor College sociologist Dr. Jubilee Tizifa says the reunion depends on who takes the initiative.
However, Tizifa acknowledges it is not easy, citing circumstances that led to separation as determining factors.
“If it is a child who wants to dig roots, then the onus is on the father to accept the child back. Of course, some children may not want to meet their fathers after being raised by their mothers. In that case, reunion may be difficult.
“But if a father denied fathering a child during pregnancy, he may not be willing to accept the child and that may jeopardise reconciliation,” says Tizifa.
College of Medicine psychologist Professor Chiwoza Bandawe agrees with Tizifa, saying it depends on who wants to reunite with who.
But Bandawe says for any meaningful reunion to take place, it depends on the father than a child. He says the father is better placed to understand the need for reunion, hence the need to seize the opportunity. Chiwoza says the father understands better the cause of separation and appreciates the suffering inflicted on the children. He, however, cautions that the father must be prepared for both acceptance and rejection based on how the children understand as factors underlying the reunion.
Pastor Stowell Kumwenda of Living Waters Church toes an-all affirmative line of argument on the need for reunion. He says a father-child reunion is a must for every God-fearing mortal.
“A child cannot be blessed if he lacks a forgiving heart towards his runaway father and the same applies to a father. A father has to realise that what he did by running away from the responsibility is wrong and must take an initiative to reunite with his children. He has to know that while he was away, the children went through pain and emotional distress. They missed a father’s guidance which is very necessary for upbringing of a child,” he says.
Alternatively, suggests Kumwenda, the two parties have to go for counselling for advice on how to go about the healing process.