I’m not a huge fan of definitions, I don’t particularly want society to place any form of expectation on me based on my gender, age, colour, job title, relationship status, the food I eat, the shape of my body or the choice of clothing I wear to cover it…
If there is one classification that has the best chance of defining who I am, that honour would humbly go to the title of…
Or perhaps you may prefer the term Dad, Pappa, Padre, お父さん, पिता, Baba or Cha but no matter the terminology, it is a role that comes with it’s own inherent set of challenges which is an exhausting experience but I’m more committed to this role than Matthew McConaughy playing Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, although my dedication will not gain me any critical acclaim or an Oscar win.
I’m pretty sure my perception of fatherhood has been tainted by the absence of my own father, whom I used to think of as more of a mythical character from an ancient legend; because I related to him through my fictional imagination and in the process created a magical ideal of who I thought he should be as opposed to who he actually was.
We physically met for the first time when I was twenty four and with no shared body of experience to fall back on (other than a few photographs, letters and an occasional phone conversations) our first meeting was surreal and strange at best.
Although meeting my father did provide me with an opportunity to understand a set of external circumstances that ultimately allowed me to experience this crazy thing we call life. It’s a constant swirling dichotomy to feel indebted to a man who had more of a profound influence through his absence than active involvement.
This does not make him a bad person neither does it guarantee, if he were more proactive my childhood would be filled full of rainbow coloured wonder. I understand he did his best with the capacity of understanding he had at the time, which probably has a lot to do with the absence of his own father…but it’s a shame…as I have a very disconnected relationship with a man, that is only tied together through biology.
Since being inducted into club fatherhood over a decade ago, I realise just how essential it is for a child to be around a strong, nurturing male presence; not strength in terms of physicality but in terms of character. With my own children, I realise the weight of influence I can carry through just the tone of my voice and more importantly my sons are around a male who understands first-hand how to navigate the turbulent cyclone of testosterone that has the capacity to overwhelm logic.
The lack of prominent father figures has negatively destroyed communities and there is more than enough research to suggest that positive relationships between children and their fathers contribute to better academic performance, less criminality, reduced promiscuity, better participation in later relationships, developed emotional intelligence and better mental health.
Perhaps by reading this you can recall the power of influence a negative or positive relationship with your own father has had on your very soul, therefore I do not deserve any extra credit for not running away from my parental responsibilities like my father (or his father before him) but watching a child (that you’re partly responsible for introducing into the world) grow and develop their own unique brand of individuality is one of the few experiences that is worth more than all the gold medals won in Rio.
Until next time.