Why Fathers’ Day quietly vanishes

Moses Mpanga

What you need to know:

  • Many African cultures require a man to be a provider, side-lining him in regards to child rearing. 

Last year, June 21 prowled in quietly and ebbed without a trace! The lockdown did not help the already grim precedent.
Fathers’ Day has always vanished in thin air for as long as I can remember.  Children  hardly have any fond memories to celebrate or that are worth talking about. This is mainly attributed to father absenteeism, either emotionally or physically or even both.
Also, gender roles that have normalised men as providers and women as nurturers have deemed fathers as passive members of the family, giving birth to the term ‘father wound’.

‘’This is my beloved Son (or daughter), in whom I am well-pleased” (Mathew 3:17; 17:5). Like Christ heard from His father, children naturally have a deep longing to know they have pleased their fathers. The inability to have a feel of these affirmations and presence is what overtime births ‘the father wounds’.
According to Dr Daniel Passini, a father wound is the deficiency or absence of love from your father, whether intentional or unintentional.  It is the experience of being unfairly attacked or abandoned by one’s father. It can be a real attack or abandonment, a conceptual attack, or a combination of these experiences.

According to Freud, one of the major contributors in psychology, from 3-6 years, a child becomes aware of anatomical sex differences, which sets in motion the conflict between erotic attraction, resentment, rivalry, jealousy and fear which he called the Oedipus complex (in boys) and the Electra complex (in girls). 

These conflicts are resolved through the process of identification, which involves the child adopting the characteristics of the same sex parent. A child’s progress from this stage to another is greatly determined by the presence of the father. Failure to resolve the Oedipus and Electra complex a breeds behavioural/conduct problems, hatred for men, suicidal ideations, and cross-generational relations among other problems. 

According to the Centre for Disease Control, 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioural disorders come from fatherless homes.
I have had opportunities to professionally interact with young university students engaged in cross-generational sex and relations. Many of these come from financially stable backgrounds and outwardly admit that they are not in the cross-generational relationships for the money, but for the reliable emotional support that stems from being around older men.

What most of them share in common is that they were raised in fatherless homes. Because of abandonment and emotional inadequacy from their fathers, there is  a gap created that they unconsciously seek to fill up. 
The young partners are unconsciously on a relentless search for their fathers in older men, who are unconsciously trying to catch-up with their childhood experiences they never had due to abandonment, neglect. It is a vicious cycle for both, and as such, they too are not in position to find any fault with their relationships.

In Robert Bly’s book ‘Iron John’ 1990, he posits that when you look at a gang, you are looking at young men who have no older men around them at all. Gang members try desperately to learn courage, family loyalty, and discipline from each other.
He shares examples of young men who culturally live together in New Guinea, the pygmy territories and Zulu lands. In these societies men live together in heart unions and soul connections for hundreds of thousands of years. As such, a child grows up with a visible master, who acts as a safety net.

In our contemporary societies, I know husbands that work hard for their wives to be able to spend ample time with their children. Consider this as absenteeism! When your children turn into successful adults, don’t be tempted to dirge, “After everything I did for you!”
Father wounds leave a wake of destruction in their paths that dig deep into the soul. This goes on to highlight the relevance of fathers in their children’s lives during parenting.

Many African cultures require a man to be a provider, side-lining him in regards to child rearing. Men have overtime accepted this fate. It is no wonder; when Father’s Day arrives there is hardly anything to celebrate as most children are reminded of the painful memories of growing up without a father. It is, however, important for survivors of ‘the father wound’ to realise that their health depends on making genuine peace with the disengaged child in them. 

The author, Mr Moses Mpanga is a Clinical Psychologist, Founder & Director MIND Nest Uganda


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