The word ‘Father’ is derived from the Latin word “Pater” and is defined in several dictionaries as a man who has engendered a child, a male parent, or a person who takes responsibility for protecting, caring, rearing, and nurturing children. The definition itself declares the amount of responsibility placed on the shoulders of a father. Christian evangelist Billy Graham has said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, un-praised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society”.
As a special event, Father’s Day was first celebrated in the United States of America, and thereafter the tradition spread to other parts of the world. The celebration was first initiated by Miss Sonora Louise Smart Dodd, from Washington, while she was attending the Mother’s Day service in 1909. She felt that if there is a day to honour and respect the mothers, then why not a day be kept aside for the fathers? Ms Dodd’s father, Mr. William Jackson Smart was a civil war veteran. Her mother died due to complications related to childbirth. Sonora was just 16, and Mr. Smart raised his newborn daughter and his five other children all by himself.
Although Father’s day was celebrated in different countries, yet they are observed differently and at different times. In Germany, Father’s day is celebrated on Ascension Day (the Thursday, forty days after Easter), which is a federal holiday and it is also called men’s day, where traditionally groups of men go hiking tours. In Haiti, Father’s Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of June. Fathers are recognised and acknowledged with several gifts. They are also treated to special meals at the beaches or at the hillsides. In France, lighter manufacturer “Flaminaire” introduced the idea of Father’s Day in 1949 to promote sales of their products guised as the perfect gift for the occasion.
American writer Clarence B Kelland quoted, “My Father didn’t tell me how to live, he lived, and let me watch him do it”. A Father plays a vital role in the family as well as in the society. Several books, films, and stories have presented the character of an ideal father. As I reflect on what I have read, and what I have experienced in my own life, I feel these are some of the roles a father should shoulder:
A father should play an active role in providing financial, emotional, and spiritual support to his family. His family looks up to him for safety. He should share his knowledge and wisdom to his children, and also provide spiritual guidance in order to let them grow and develop in all aspects of life. He should show the act of kindness, loyalty, and compassion to his family members. A father disciplines his children even though he may find it unsettling to punish his children at times, nevertheless, he must do all he can to ensure his children do not go astray. He should live an exemplary life, filled with integrity, righteousness, and humility so that his children will carry on his legacy. The person who inspires me the most is my father. We have eight siblings in our family and my father, as the head of the family, not only administered us but also taught us several other good qualities. He treated all of us equally and was never partial. I still remember when I was a kid he taught us about cleanliness: to keep our surroundings, neighbourhood, and town clean. Daddy, as we affectionately call him, taught us to be hospitable to all, even strangers.
Even to this day, he reminds us that we are the image of our society. A health freak, he has instilled in us the zeal to wake up early, exercise, and have a proper diet. Not surprisingly, one of his favourite quotes is “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise”. It wasn’t just the big things, he ensured all of us had proper etiquette and posture. He told us to have strong ambition and determination, to work hard and labour in order to achieve one’s goal. With a smile, he’d quote, “Little drop of water makes the mighty ocean”, and “Rome was not built in a day”. What I’m today is because of my father, he had taught me so many things about life. I can always find in him a person I can depend on. All credit goes to my dad for his unfailing and unconditional love, for his advice and valuable teachings. It must be nerve wrecking for all fathers at times. They must wonder if what they are doing is right, and if their ways are ideal. As children, we may feel that our fathers are unfair at times, too strict, failing to understand us. What we must realise is that behind that facade of a hard exterior is a man who loves us beyond all measure. His love is what powers his actions and a father will never, in no way, think evil of his children. Maybe, all we need is patience, and the willingness to see things from their perspective, and then the love they bear for us will be evident.