Are Naga fathers ready to shed their masculinity?

Are Naga fathers ready to shed their masculinity?

A course at the ‘Father School’ might show the way


Morung Express news

Dimapur | June 21


“I neither bothered to attend church nor had a proper relationship with my wife and children, but after attending the Father School (FS), my life changed for good,” declared Tia Jamir from Kohima who testified with confidence that his foray into the FS has been a life changing experience. “In a nutshell, I would have been a divorcee if it wasn’t for father school,” commented another graduate from Mokokchung as a matter-of-factly, summing up how his life has been impacted by FS.


According to the New York Times, the Father School (FS) has been making Korean fathers “emotionally aware” since 1995, when it started at Duranno Bible College in Seoul, with a mission to curb “the growing national epidemic of abusive, ineffective and absentee fathers” and counter the traditional categorization of an “authoritarian” father. It reached United States in 2000 and exploded since then. By 2011, nearly 200,000 men have graduated worldwide.


The wave reached Nagaland in 2009 when the Ao Baptist Church Association (ABAM) brought the resources person from South Korea and trained the pastors of two of its biggest churches, Mokokchung Town  Baptist Church (MTBA) and Kohima Ao Baptist Church (KABA). Since then, the two churches, apart from its own congregation, have conducted FS in more than 30 churches respectively and over 2000 students have graduated collectively. It includes not only Ao Churches but many other communities as well. All expenses related to the course are borne by the Church.


Talking to The Morung Express, a pastor in KABA, Rev. Asangba Longkumer informed that it was one of its biggest “mission challenges” targeted at fathers tailored into a five-day programme covering A-Z of a father’s duty.


For MTBA, with the theme “Lord I am a father,” the church has trained 12 local resources persons who help impart the church mission. MTBA Pastor Temsuwati commented that the FS has helped in changing lives of many fathers. “They are attentive and more sensitive to family issues and their relationship with their wives and children have become stronger,” he stated.


According to Rev. Longkumer, among other things, the course teaches fathers how to share spousal responsibilities, building intimate relationship with children and wives, creating a new and healthy family culture, and become a person of integrity in the society through biblical as well as secular experiences.


A graduate, Wati Ao explained that initially, as a full bodied Naga, there were inhibitions among many regarding the activities imparted at the schools, but as the course progressed, these inhibitions melted away. “We were made to realise that that both the partner has equal responsibilities in a marriage. For instance, I always consider about looking after the children or waking up early in the morning a women’s duty.”


Besides, forget about saying ‘I love you” saying ‘Thank you’ or giving a simple hug to our spouses is quite unusual among the Nagas, but such gestures improve family relation considerably, he confessed from his own experience.


Another graduate, Meren of Aliba village feels blessed after being a part of the FS. Apart from quitting drinking and taking tobacco products, he believes his health problems were also ‘cured’. “When I was working in the stone quarry, a big stone rolled down. The person besides me yelled but could not escape fully. I broke my leg and back. But I thank God that I am still alive,” he revealed in his testimony.


For Tia Jamir, who graduated from FS in 2009 and working as a counsellor for three years now, the biggest transformation was his life and how it changed the relation with his wife and children. “They were studying outside. I never bothered to enquire how they were coping. Only my wife used to deal with my children,” he admitted adding that he connects emotionally with them now. “To see the happiness on others learning that I have changed is the biggest blessing,” he maintained.


At the concluding night, in one of the most emotional acts, the students were told to wash the feet of their wives as a gesture of love and biblical significance of service shown by Christ. We became willing participants and almost all the congregation teared-up, they all attested. With a tug of sentimentalism, the FS is often faulted as “childish” by others. But students and trainers believe that this notion may rise from the perceived notion of a traditional stoic Naga male. However, they affirmed that transformation decisively outweighs other concerns. Scientific studies too have shown FS Program improves quality of marital and family relationship.


Given the positive impact it generates, both MTABA and KABA have fully packed schedules in the coming days. Rev. Asangba informs that the target is to reach 10 Ao churches and 3 other churches per year and the schedule for next two years is almost fully booked, including Sumi Baptist Church, Dimapur and Pochury Baptist Church, Kohima this year.