• EDITORIAL

    The travails of today’s fathers

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    THERE are no words to describe exactly what it feels like for a man pacing about for hours in the waiting room of the maternity ward as his wife inside the delivery room struggles to give birth to their child, particularly in the aftermath when the nurse comes out of the swinging door to deliver the good news.

    It’s boy! Or, it’s a girl! The baby’s gender doesn’t really matter. What counts most is that heady sense of fatherhood, of parenthood, the transformation from lad to dad and its life-shifting ramifications—a natural high beyond the customary greetings of Congratulations! Or Happy Father’s Day!

    The ideal father is the man, the provider and the cornerstone of the house, who does his best to meet his growing family’s needs. Ideally, he is able to send his children to a good school, buy them decent clothes and take the family out to dinner once a week. Ideally, in today’s world, the household has to have at least a desktop computer and a laptop so the kids can do research for their school assignments and log on to Facebook or connect with friends and relatives, which means a subscription to a stable and reliable Internet service provider. Ideally, the wife and each of the kids have their own smartphones, preferably with mobile internet.

    But there are times, and those times happen to be more often than not, when life is perfectly imperfect. Life deals them a capricious fate, and Mom and Dad are thrown into a situation where they have to make a gut-wrenching decision to work abroad. But even if Dad goes overseas on a two-year contract, life goes on. He sends money back to the Philippines, so that the kids are able to continue their schooling and live a decent life.

    When Dad gets a home leave, often it’s celebration time for the family, friends and relatives. If his home leave happens to fall on the third Sunday of June, then the family celebrates Father’s Day.

    The portal Art of Manliness traces the history of Father’s Day in two versions. “According to some accounts, the first Father’s Day was celebrated in Washington state on June 19, 1910. A woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd came up with the idea of honoring and celebrating her father while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at church in 1909. She felt as though mothers were getting all the acclaim while fathers were equally deserving of a day of praise. (She would probably be displeased that Mother’s Day still gets the lion’s share of attention.)”

    In the second version, the first Father’s Day in America happened in Fairmont, West Virginia on July 5, 1908. Grace Golden Clayton suggested to the minister of a local church that they hold services to celebrate fathers after a deadly mine explosion killed 361 men.

    It wasn’t until 1972 that Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday in America and many other nations followed the tradition.

    Most Filipino families usually celebrate Father’s Day by taking Dads to a Sunday lunch after church, a boon to hotels, restaurants and gift merchants catering to special occasions. That’s why shopping malls were more crowded than usual on June 18, and most restaurant tables were hard to come by without joining others on a waiting list, all for the greater glory of fathers.

    Life is fast, and before we know it a generation has turned and a new breed of fathers comes to fore. Just by being there, a father lends life a sense of security, stability and wholeness.

    According to the Book of Proverbs (20:7), “The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.”

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