The Sunday News
HAVING an absent father has got to be one of the most torturous experiences for a child and without much support and attention, children feel unwanted, rejected and literally, they just feel like they don’t exist.
Talking on this topic was Men’s Conference guest, Pastor Kilton Moyo, (Affectionately known as brother KK), a leader, a friend and a father.
Q: What is being a father and the effects of absenteeism?
A: Absenteeism affects the child in every aspect of their lives because fatherhood was never meant to be absent. Fatherhood is meant to be present, because it is about sourcing or resourcing a child, it’s about protection, provision, leadership, encouragements, warmth, love and embracement. It’s also about paying attention and listening to the child, because a father is a pillar to lean on and a friend.
To a girl child, a father is the first man introduced to her life and to a boy, he is the example of fatherhood. So, naturally, fathers are people who are there to take care of the child up until the child is able to stand on their own.
Q: What are the different dimensions of absenteeism?
A: When we talk of absent fathers, let’s look at it from different angles. There are absent fathers because they never showed up, they rejected pregnancy and ran away, they totally don’t exist in the world of the child.
There are also fathers who are absent by virtue of being away at work, they are working far from home, even in the diaspora, they are also spending time away from home as they will be at work. They sometimes come home late; those fathers are also absent in the child’s life even if they are literally there and responsible. The fact that they can’t spend quality time and talk about day-to-day struggles with their offspring, it means they are absent. They are not connected with the child’s life spiritually and physically, all they do is make sure there is money and food on the table.
There are other fathers who are present, always at home with the family but very absent, because they are irresponsible. They can’t teach or discipline the child; they can’t guide or reflect with the child. They can’t help with anything even homework.
In all these three dimensions of absenteeism, children are affected. There are children who are living a good life, living in a nice house but the father is not literally there. Those with fathers who never showed up in life are better because they concluded in their minds that the father doesn’t exist, so they are focused on their lives.
Q: In an African setup: Patriarchal society as it were, do our elders have the humility to seek forgiveness from the children they abandoned?
A: Traditionally or culturally, men were socialised in a rather stupid way, that they can’t be questioned or that the child can’t question their authority or speak their feelings to the parent because a parent is a parent. A child traditionally, is regarded as if he/she has no feelings, they cannot think or say anything. All of this is deception, it’s totally wrong.
In most cases, men pretend to come back in their child’s life as fathers and pretend that all will be well. I think that is lack of respect, immaturity, unwiseness and foolishness. Many men are unable to bow and say sorry and apologise to their children and try to receive genuine love not forced love. Men need to really grow up in this area, and we have to mature out of it and understand that children have feelings and they are completely human.
You might have been absent as a father for many years but if you get time to do things well, it is a beautiful thing to reconcile with your children. Most of us (men) must throw away this useless male pride which the society has instilled in us. You must throw it away when it comes to your children and blood. Embrace, move on and love. Be embarrassed in order to build for the sake of emotional grown and stability on your child.
Q: How can family elders be supportive for the benefit of the child without pursuing to satisfy their grudges over what happened in the past?
A: Looking at it from an African context, or simply a human context because this is a global problem, human beings are struggling relationally. They are failing to build sound relationships that benefit everyone. There is so much selfishness, hatred and jealousy. There are so many things that poison relationships. However, the door for reconciliation is always there but a few men fail to enter that door or go through that path because of prickly pride, fear, greed and selfishness.
Men need to be a people that can let go to receive and receive our all and move on. I would love to encourage reconciliation, as long as you live where ever you are, go and reconcile with your child, go and reconcile with your parent. It is beautiful and a Holy thing. Don’t die with grudges, the power of reconciliation breaks every chain. There is victory and healing in reconciliation. Forgive, embrace and enjoy the peace of life.
Q: Parents may become impatient; they may try to force the child to embrace the new setup of reconciliation. What does it mean to take responsibility as a father and as a step to reconciliation?
A: Men are afraid of responsibility, we love justifying and blaming, it must be us on the right and everyone else must be wrong. In such cases, traditionally, culturally and generally, women are to blame for the father’s reasons for being absent and that is wrong. Men will always blame women for their shortcomings.
Men need to own up to their flaws and follies and say sorry. Men lack humility, it is hard for us to be humble enough to bring ourselves down and just say “I am sorry I was wrong please forgive me”. However, we are not too late, in this day and age, we need to be humble. Humility is not learnt at any university, it’s not bought at any pub or shop.
Humility comes from the word of God because it is a spiritual product. Just Pray about it and reconciliation will be smooth.—anchor.fm/mensconference/episodes