Merge Father and Mother’s Days: In Favour of Parent’s Day

In Ghana (and elsewhere), many fathers complain that they are not given as much recognition on Father’s Day as is given to mothers on Mother’s Day; Father’s Days are not as hyped as Mother’s Days. In trying to resolve this imbalance, on Mother’s Day this year I posted a Facebook status that said, “Happy Parent’s Day” instead of “Happy Mother’s Day”. Immediately two females commented. One reminded me it was Mother’s Day; the other asked what my status meant and that I should allow mothers to be celebrated.

There have been arguments justifying why, generally, mothers are cherished more than fathers. And there are several stories of some fathers deserting their families. I wasn’t surprised to see a comment from a man who said that he considered his mother as his father because he had nothing to do with his biological father. But we also know of several examples where many fathers have been indispensable in the lives of their children; and where, on the contrary, some mothers have abandoned their children.

I do understand that for many years, mothers generally have been at a disadvantage, so it makes sense that they be cherished beyond measure. However, things have changed now. My wife goes through a lot as a mother, but I also go through a lot as a father. My mother went through a lot to bring us up, but my dad also went through a lot. The difference is that because we were often with our mum, it was easy for us to see what she went through to take care of us, but it was difficult to see that of our father. Things only made sense to us when we grew up.

The point is, despite the limelight increased contact with their children places mothers in, the role fathers play cannot be regarded as second fiddle. And I strongly believe that the two distinct celebrations, rather than acknowledging the equal role played by both mothers and fathers, puts mothers on a pedestal and relegates fathers to the background. But what kind of future do we want to see if the current generation of fathers-to-be feel their role will not be as much appreciated? Evans Adu Gyamfi, author of A Toast to Fatherhood: Sons and Daughters Appreciating the Fatherly Role, has argued that appreciating the institution of fatherhood cannot be ignored if the current fatherhood crisis is going to see an end. Thus, it is important that we acknowledge equally what mothers and fathers do to bring up their children, and not transfer our experiences of the past onto the institution of fatherhood.

But that’s not the only point. I think the current distinction between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, with the recognition of the former as more important than the latter, creates friction—friction in homes and in society at large. It creates some sort of competition, envy, jealousy between father and mother, and it strains our efforts at redefining gender roles and advocating gender equality. I also think that it does not foster forgiveness in situations where fathers or mothers might have hurt their children. 

Instead of having two separate days—one for mothers and the other for fathers—I propose a single day to celebrate parents (including single parents). To make the proposal effective, I suggest that neither the day assigned currently to mothers nor fathers should be used; instead a different day should be designated as Parent’s Day. This way, parents can receive equal recognition. I believe this will be a step towards valuing equally the roles mothers and fathers play, and it will encourage fathers (and uncaring mothers) to be more interested in the affairs of their children. 

What is more beautiful than reaching out to both parents, if there are, and wishing them a Happy Parent’s Day, and using that day as an opportunity to reconcile differences between mother and father and between parent(s) and child? The need to reunite our families is long overdue and it must start now!

So, on this day I wish all parents a happy Parent’s Day. As long as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day exist, I will celebrate a double Parent’s Day—one in May for both my mum and dad, and the other in June for both my mum and dad. You can also join the cause.

Disclaimer: My wife Patience G. Okyere Asante, with whom I author this blog, does not agree to the merger of Mother’s and Father’s Days into a Parent’s Day, but she does recognize the need to cherish fathers and mothers equally.

Photo Credit: Siir Koby Photography

Advertisements

Turning the Hearts of Children to their Fathers: ‘A Toast to Fatherhood’

Book Review: Evans A. Adu-Gyamfi. A Toast to Fatherhood: Sons & Daughters Appreciating the Fatherly Role. Accra: Scopen Minds, 2016. 117pp. Paperback, ISBN 978-9988-2-2272-7. Review by Michael K. Okyere Asante.

I wish A Toast to Fatherhood had come at the time when I held offenses against my father; amongst other things, I had blamed him for my mum’s premature departure to her Maker. It will take me three years after my mother’s death, at a men’s conference, to forgive my father and to appreciate his role in my life.

Truth is he was not even aware I had this feeling of resentment against him. But when I understood the need to focus on the good, forgive and let go, and I saw in my own life that I was as imperfect and needed forgiveness, I wept and said to myself, “Dad, I forgive you.” That grudge nearly marred the 23-year beautiful relationship I had with my father.

This is what Evans Adu-Gyamfi’s book A Toast to Fatherhood seeks to do: to turn the hearts of children to their fathers. The book provides a solution to the fatherhood crisis we have in our nation and around the world. Many are bitter towards their fathers and have decided to focus on the negatives instead of the good. They might have been abused, neglected, rejected, provoked by their fathers, but Adu-Gymafi helps us to see a new possibility where this fatherhood crisis can be a thing of the past: focus on valuing the good of fatherhood.

While the agendum has been to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children, Adu-Gyamfi embarks on a reorientation that seeks to turn the hearts of children towards their fathers. It doesn’t always have to be fathers making the move. As Adu-Gyamfi notes, we can make the first step by being appreciative; by respecting and honouring our fathers; by learning not to berate but value the institution of fatherhood; and by choosing to be good fathers (and mothers) ourselves (Chapter 1).

In this book, the author’s definition of ‘father’ is not limited to a biological concept, but extends to anyone who plays a fatherly role in a person’s life; it can be a step-father, a father-in-law, a mentor, a foster father or even extend to religious leaders, teachers, and other people who contribute to our personal development. The author points out the importance of verbally acknowledging the role of fathers in our lives; that it takes personal initiative to do this.

The author advocates a direct, impartial and articulated appreciation, not one hidden in gifts but expressed in genuine words (Chapter 5). Fathers need to hear from their children and protégéswhile they are alivehow beneficial their roles in the lives of these ones have been.

Even for those who have had bitter experiences, the author encourages: ‘I remain grateful, knowing that my “past experiences, no matter how bad, are never a total waste!”’ (p. 18), and adds, “as we look back on life we must understand that whatever relationship we had with our fathers (whether they are alive or dead) was but to teach us a lesson or two about this life” (p. 21). The author shares several examples in that respect in Chapter 4 titled “Life Lessons from My Fathers”.

The book encourages children (both young and grown) not to transfer their experiences of the past onto the institution of fatherhood, for in many respects, even though they may have been neglected by their biological fathers, disappointed by a father-figure, or heart-broken by the actions of a potential father, they should make “a toast to fatherhood” and see fatherhood as an institution and not as individuals (Chapter 2).

What kind of future will this produce? Adu-Gyamfi writes, “…the fathers of the generations to come shall be better versions of what we have currently” (p. 5). Isn’t that great news? But this means that sons and daughters will have to beat the premature desire for freedom from their fathers’ supervision, what the author has presented in Chapter 3 as the Maturity-Freedom Matrix.

The book is of high quality, the design and layout and the weaving of stories into the writing makes it a delight to read. Adu-Gyamfi, an advocate of fatherhood and care for the aged, coupled with his experiences over the years, is indubitably qualified to bring this subject to the fore. The emphasis of his call is this: “let us turn the hearts of children to their fathers”.

I recommend A Toast to Fatherhood to anyone who has a reason or is struggling to be thankful to a father-figure (biological or non-biological) in their lives.

Copies are available at Challenge Bookshops, or click here to purchase online.

The review was first published in the Daily Heritage newspaper, April 13, 2017, p. 6.