For the past seven months, the world has been mystified by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which has devastated world economies, human livelihoods and social relations. However, as we are in the middle of this pandemonium, trying to look for answers, one thing that we need the most, to provide us with some sort of stability, is leadership. Leadership is in high demand in the nation, in homes, in churches and communities. Today; as the world is celebrating Father’s Day, I would like to share some thoughts about fatherhood and the symbolic leadership that comes with being a father in crisis situations like those being experienced now. However, before I go further, I would like to put the concept of fatherhood in perspective, as different schools may understand and define fatherhood differently.
Fatherhood, in my view, is not only about one’s ability to sire children. Fatherhood is not only about one’s age but also mainly about one’s ability to take up responsibility to mentor and inspire others. It is about standing up and being available when the call to leadership avails itself. I became a father to many people when I was as young as twenty years old and some of the people who looked up to me as a father were much older than myself. Today, having lived for about 46 years in this world, I still have people I look up to as fathers. These are people I hold myself accountable to. Fatherhood is, therefore, a symbol that every man is supposed to represent. So, what are some of the attributes of fatherhood? Firstly, a father is a symbol of authority. People will look up to you as a father because of your natural position of authority in the home. It is said that men are heads of the home and that mantle entails authority and leadership.
Naturally, everyone in the home will look up to you as a father to provide leadership and direction. As such, if one wants to be counted as a father, one needs to have a vision for one’s home and inspire all to rally behind it. As a man, you will be held accountable for whatever happens in your house, regardless of whether it is your wife or children directly responsible. In the Bible, a story is told of the Garden of Eden, where Eve conspired with the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit. But when God appeared, He held the man accountable. He asked “Adam, where are you?” For whatever is happening in our homes and communities, the question that should be asked is “Fathers, where are you?” Numerous wrong things are being normalised in homes because fathers have neglected their position of authority. An additional interesting feature about the story in the Garden of Eden was that Eve never felt naked when she ate the fruit but the feeling of nakedness came after Adam also ate the fruit. In other words, God was waiting to see the reaction of Adam: the two would never have felt naked had Adam refused to eat the fruit. There are things that are being normalised in this world because fathers
have allowed them to be that way. If fathers could stand up and be responsible men, most boys would not have been on drugs today; most young girls would not have been in prostitution. Most young men and women today are suffering from an identity crisis and lack self-worth because of growing up under an abusive or absentee father. This has led to most young people lose the sense of purpose and meaning in life. The moral decay in our society today is a sign of the absence of true fatherhood. As regards the Covid-19 pandemic, heath experts have given us an outline of things that we need to do to protect ourselves from not only catching the disease but also from spreading it. These things are supposed to be followed by all of us. However, truth be told, if there is a group of people that is so stubborn when it comes to complying with these regulations, it is that of men. If you may observe, it is men who usually do not wash their hands when entering or leaving a site or even after visiting the toilet. People that are most likely to obey rules, like wearing face masks, are women –not men. Men’s ego usually tells them to break rules. However, the challenge is that fathers are natural role models and people look up to us for direction and guidance on how things ought to be done. We set the standards in the psyche of communities and
if fathers continue behaving in this way, it is most likely that everyone will follow suit. Men, as fathers, need to know that their leadership is greatly needed if these prescriptions are to be followed by everyone. Secondly, the father is the symbol of security and comfort in a family. Somebody else told me that the father is the most important person in the personal development of every child. The presence of a responsible father brings so much security and comfort to the children. It is from the father that the boy child learns how a man should treat a woman and handle situations; it is from her father that a girl child appreciates what a husband should be, psychologically or otherwise, to a wife. I have noted, in respect to my four daughters, that a girl child is more open and free with a loving father than the mother. In most cases, when daughters are not finding this comfort and security from their father, they look up to another father-figure for such and this scenario has led to most girls being abused. A father is every girl’s first love and it determines her subsequent attitudes towards men. It is more expected of us fathers to be the source of peace, security and prosperity in our homes and the nation. But, instead, men have become the source of pain and
destruction. The political violence we see today is mostly done by men. The physical and emotional abuse being suffered in most homes is mostly being done by men. Men make up over 80 percent of prisoners in this country. People that should have been out there shaping the nation and the next generation are the ones responsible for its destruction. In respect to the Covid-19 pandemic, fathers, as leaders of our homes, should bare in mind that we will easily be obeyed if we use our influence to set rules in our home regarding, for example, to hygiene issues and the movement of our children and visitors to our homes. This disease is real and pre-cautionary measures in the homes need to be taken and if we, as fathers, take a lead in this, these measures are likely to be followed to the letter. As fathers, we can also use our influence to ease the tension and anxiety that comes with the disease by being the sources of strength to our families.
Scenes of dead people we see on television sets can be very depressing and our words of assurance and comfort will valuable and reassuring. It is also important that if the family has health insurance, we should, as a father, ensure that in such times the policy is well updated, to adequately cover our ill family members. Thirdly, fathers are supposed to be the providers in the home and this is the responsibility that everyone expects of us. It does not matter how much our wives earn but it is first and foremost our responsibility to see to it that all the financial concerns of the home have been taken care of. In these days of COVID 19, the economic hardship in most homes is becoming real and that burden rests on our shoulders, as fathers. If the children go to bed hungry, we are responsible. If bills are not squared, we are responsible. As such, we need the courage and grace to keep up with the growing pressure. Additionally, as fathers, we are not only supposed to be the providers of physical needs but also spiritual needs of the home.
We represent the Creator in our homes, both in words and in deeds. Unfortunately, most of us have misrepresented the Creator to the extent that most young people today have hated the notion of God being the divine Father. The young people hate the Father image because of the disorganised and sometimes scandalous behaviour of their biological fathers in their families. Most churches, at that, are not functioning as they ought to -te moral compass that is loving, all-embracing and the steady provider of spiritual nurture. It is, therefore, our responsibility as fathers to ensure the spiritual well-being of our homes. We are supposed to take up the role of the priest and give spiritual guidance to our children by leading them in the ways of the Lord. We need to pray for our children every day for divine protection, in addition to our encouraging them to follow the set health guidelines. Let me say it directly, as I conclude: Fathers, we have a huge responsibility in this crisis. Let us stand up and be counted.