31 July 2008

'Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child'

I'm the kind of person who often reacts to stereotypes, including positive ones. I've seen many, many photos and paintings of mothers holding their babies. It's a cliche, though a positive, wholesome one. When we were planning the cover of Misyon for November-December 2007 my assistant editor, Anne, took photos of friends of hers here in Bacolod, Renante and Cristina Uy with their first child, Keifer Thomas. We discussed which photo to use and eventually opted for this one - with Renante rather than Cristina holding Keefer.

Years ago in Mindanao I heard a young father, a lawyer, say that he never held his children. That was his wife's job. I thought of how much both he and his children, whom he loved, were missing. Some of my own happiest memories from my childhood are of my father's affectionate love. He was a carpenter and made a little saddle for me on the crossbar of his bicycle. I have one clear memory of being on the bike with him. It was before we moved house three months or so after my third birthday.

I've known persons who lost their father's through death when they were very young and who have felt a deep sense of loss throughout their lives. But in some parts of the world today fatherhood is seen almost as something abhorrent and certainly not needed. This report is from the July-August issue of Personal Update published by Family and Life in Ireland.

Father’s Day Removed from School and Family

A primary school in Scotland told its teachers to omit any classwork relating to Father’s Day lest those children without fathers would be made to feel inferior. This comes at a time when the British parliament has voted to recognise in law that a child no longer needs a father. This trend to dismiss the role of fathers takes place when clear evidence is accumulating that fatherless families have definite negative consequences for the socialisation of young children. The decay of family life in the United States is well documented, and its negative consequences quantified. Nearly two of every five children there do not live with their fathers, and…

* 63% of suicides of youths are from fatherless homes. [Census Bureau]
* 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
* 85% of all children that exhibit behavioural disorders come from fatherless homes. [Centers for Disease Control]
* 80% of rapists motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 pp. 403-26]
* 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
* 85% of all youths in prison grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia Jail Populations and Texas Department of Corrections, 1992]

As they say in the USA, 'Go figure'.

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