Fatherhood Series: Part 2 – What is your father?

Last week, I started this journey of looking into Fatherhood because of its most essential role in rebuilding a broken society as well as reviving the body of Christ. The first part of the series was titled ‘Who is a Father?’ and in that article, we looked at the various key roles of a father to define who a father is. It was a critical starting point in this series, so do read that if you haven’t done so yet.

The second part of the series will focus on helping us identify who your Father is or was. Why is this important? I believe we cannot undertake a journey into our Fatherhood without searching and acknowledging what we are a product of.

Unfortunately, most black men, for obvious cultural reasons, have not taken time to study their father. Yet, the mindset, style, language and tone of our fathering are largely a fruit of the fatherhood we received. Not to mention the many unresolved issues originating from the relationship with our fathers. 

Fatherhood impacts on both sons and daughters but sons are affected the most because of the natural tendency for a son to seek to please his father. I genuinely believe that one of Africa’s biggest obstacles to true development is the relationship between fathers and sons (more on this in another article).

So, what is/was your father? 

The Absent Father: This includes fathers who were rarely at home and those who were at home but were silent and buried in their newspapers, news magazines and TV. Under this category are those raised by single mums. Most of the men with absent fathers had no male influence growing up and still feel the emptiness of not having a father-and-son relationship.

The No-nonsense Father: Some had fathers who were strict, unforgiving, stickler for his rules, hardly smiled or joked with the children, didn’t allow play around him, mistakes were not accommodated, etc. These sorts of fathers were dictators who were greatly feared by mothers and the children. Interestingly, some men still fear their fathers (even some who are dead) despite now being full-fledged adults.

The Angry Father: These sorts were not necessarily mean and strict but were fathers who took out their anger on their family regularly. For many men, all they can recall of their father was a man who was always angry (in reality it wasn’t always but it seemed like it was) and would shout, scold, beat, threaten eviction or rejection, etc. Some men wonder why they are constantly angry and short-fused but have not looked carefully on the impact of their fathers on them.

The Distant Father: This sort of father may have been around, supported the family but expressed no emotion. They were the type that never cried and wouldn’t permit their sons to cry. They couldn’t hug their sons and even their daughters, and found it hard to say ‘I love you’ or ‘I am proud of you’. Many sons sought to do great things to get some affection from such fathers but nothing changed and such fathers produced sons who are replicas living in a more expressive world (I heard of a father in his 40’s who finds it difficult hug his children, much as he longs to).

The Unappreciative Father:  Men with such fathers found that nothing they did was appreciated. Rather, they were constantly told they weren’t good enough or haven’t done enough and were regularly compared to others. The constant negative words spoken destroyed the confidence of many men.

The Wife-beating Father: This sort of father had elements of one or more of the qualities listed above and most did the beating in front of the children. Some men even had, in their thoughts, plotted how to eliminate their fathers and most are still hurting from the emotional trauma. 

The Weak Father: In some homes, the mother or step-mother was the boss and the man had no say. The headship in all matters (including extended families) was in the hands of the woman. Men grow up in such setting despising their father for his weakness but forget they unconsciously learned that culture. Some go the extreme opposite and dominate their wives and children.

The Addicted Father: Some fathers were into drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, paedophilia, etc. As a result, many of such brought shame on the family, particularly the sons and they also squandered the finances of the family.

The Loving Father: A few men were fortunate to have fathers who loved, cared, provided, counselled, mentored and befriended their son who in turn became well rounded fathers today. They were not perfect but these godly fathers understood their God-given assignment and played the full part. Their sons are reproducing this godly model in their families.

The list is not exhaustive so if you haven’t seen your father, you can add to the list and I would like to hear from you. This point has to be reiterated – one man produces generations that take after him. Therefore, it is pertinent for you and I to search within us to identify and acknowledge the type of father we had.

Usually, those with bad memories tend to bury their past even though the effects do manifest today.
Our healing comes when we confront the past we have ignored. Are you willing to open up?

by Bobby Udoh