Father’s Day: The First Superhero to his children

On Sunday, across most of the world, people will celebrate Father’s Day.

Anyone can father a child, but being a dad takes a lifetime. Fathers play a role in every child’s life that cannot be filled by others. Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength. Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and supportive, it greatly affects a child’s cognitive and social development as well as instils an overall sense of well-being and self-confidence. A father influences the way the child sees relationships and a daughter will decide who her future partner is based on the relationship between her mother and her father as well as how she sees her father treating others. A son, on the other hand, will model himself on his father’s character because he sees his father as the role model for how an adult male should behave. And this is not just for biological fathers, even father figures play a very important role in a child’s life.

Children with sensitive and supportive fathers have higher levels of social competence and better peer relationships. Children whose fathers provide them with learning materials and speak with them frequently perform better in school and have more advanced language skills. A father also influences a child’s well-being indirectly through his relationship with the child’s mother. Conflicts between parents is detrimental to a child’s well-being, especially if the conflict is hostile and unresolved. Supportive co-parenting relationships, by contrast, are related to better self-regulation and fewer behaviour problems in children.

For centuries, the Eastern Orthodox Church has appointed the second Sunday before Nativity as the Sunday of the Forefathers to commemorate the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, starting with Adam and emphasising the Patriarch Abraham. This feast can fall between December 11 and 17 and includes the ancestors of the Mother Mary. A customary day for the celebration of fatherhood in Catholic Europe is known to date back to at least 1508. It is usually celebrated on March 19, as the feast day of Saint Joseph, who is referred to as the fatherly Nutritor Domini or the Nourisher of the Lord in Catholicism and the putative father of Jesus in southern European tradition. This celebration was brought to the Americas by the Spanish and Portuguese with the Catholic Church actively supporting the custom of a celebration of fatherhood on St. Joseph’s Day from either the last years of the 14th century or from the early 15th century, on the initiative of the Franciscans. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, the celebration of fatherhood dates back to the 15th century is also observed on St Joseph’s Day, but on July 20.

The day which is mostly celebrated today originated in the United States. This day was not celebrated in that country until the 20th century outside of the catholic traditions. People started celebrating in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day by celebrating fathers and male parenting. After Anna Jarvis’ successful promotion of Mother’s Day in Grafton, West Virginia, the first observance of a day honouring fathers was held on July 5, 1908, in West Virginia. In 1911, Jane Addams proposed that a citywide Father’s Day celebration be held in Chicago, but she was turned down. On June 19, 1910, a Father’s Day celebration was held in Washington state by Sonora Smart Dodd to honour her father Willday and felt fathers should also have a similar holiday to honour them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday in June and on June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day was celebrated.

However, in the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying and it faded into relative obscurity, but she started promoting the celebrations again in the 1930s. She had the help of retailers who realised that such a celebration would help promote their products and services, which are specifically targeted at men. In addition to Father’s Day, International Men’s Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 to honour both men and boys.

Fathers are important to children’s well-being. Sensitive, supportive, and involved fathers contribute to children’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and social adjustment. Fathers also influence children’s well-being in conjunction with mothers and other caregivers, making it important to understand father-child relationships as part of entire family systems.

To all my readers who are fathers and father figures, here’s wishing you a very Happy Father’s Day! And to those who have fathers or father figures, please take some time on Sunday to spend with them and wish them.

Global Day of Parents

sarvatIrthamayI maataa sarvadevamayaH pitaa
maataraM pitaraM tasmaat sarvayatnena pUjayet

Mother is (the embodiment) of all pilgrimages, father is (the embodiment) of all deities. Hence, mother and father are to be revered with all efforts.

Old Sanskrit Shloka

Parents are the bedrock of society. Without parents to nurture a child, physically, mentally, spiritually, socially and psychologically, we may well have been living in isolation! They say a parent a born along with the child and so the importance of a parent in the child’s life, especially in the early years can’t be emphasised enough.

Being a parent is the most important job in the world. The first 1,000 days of life is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a baby’s brain and shape a child’s ability to learn and grow. Parents want to give their children the best they can. Yet, many have no choice but to work long hours, often away from home, to support their families. Parents need time to give their child the best start in life. Parenting is probably one of the most fulfilling, if not the most demanding job we will ever have! The responsibility to care for another tiny human being who depends on you and your partner for their very survival is immense, but it is something we humans do so quite instinctively. After all, the urge to procreate is in our DNA, though there are exceptions to the rule.

A parent is a child’s first hero. A girl’s first love is her father and when she looks for partners as she grows up, she will look for a man like her father if she has been brought up in a loving environment and the opposite of her father if her father had been abusive growing up. Likewise, for a boy, his mother is the first woman in his life. He will probably look for a woman like her when he is looking to get into a relationship and will most likely compare women he meets with his mother. Again, a loving mother will inspire him to look for similar qualities in his partner and an abusive and non-maternal mother figure will make him look for someone with the exact opposite qualities.

Parents nurture their children throughout their lives, guiding them, sometimes invisibly. They play multiple roles in their children’s lives – as teachers, as coaches, as psychologists, as friends and as parents.

Because parents such a huge role in everybody’s lives the United Nations decided to observe June 1, that today as the Global Day of Parents. This day was proclaimed in 2012 and honours parents throughout the world. The Global Day provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.

Emphasising the critical role of parents in the rearing of children, the Global Day of Parents recognises also that the family has the primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children. For the full and harmonious development of their personality, children should grow up in a family environment and in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.

The central goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the world leaders in 2015, focus on ending poverty, promoting shared economic prosperity, social development and people’s well-being while protecting the environment. Families remain at the centre of social life ensuring the well-being of their members, educating and socializing children and youth and caring for young and old.

In particular, family-oriented policies can contribute to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 1 to 5 relating to doing away with poverty and hunger; ensuring healthy lives and promoting of well-being for all ages; ensuring educational opportunities throughout the lifespan and achieving gender equality.

So why celebrate such a day? Days like this reminds us to respect others. As a child, you are taught to respect others, especially our elders, but I believe that you have to respect everyone, irrespective of the fact that they are older than you. Our parents have been with us through thick and thin and have been there for us in every stage of our life. A parental unit is not just a mother or a father, it is the two individuals who have brought you to life, so a day like this showcases the other parent who may not be taking an active interest in their child’s life, but on days like this, they can spend some time with their child or vice versa and learn from each other. Parenting is like playing a game of tag. It is hard going it alone and so when you are a parental unit, you have to recognise that both partners play an equal part in bringing up their children.

So take some time today to talk to your parentsm, your first teacher and nurturer and tell them how much you love them and appreciate all that they have gone through to bring you up to be the person you are today. And if you are a parent yourself, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!