I attended a funeral over the weekend and as per usual, all the speakers had great things to say about the deceased. Two things stuck out for me. The eldest son’s tribute moved me so much, had me wondering whether, in my lifetime, I would leave such an indelible mark on my children and they would speak so wonderfully about me in death as well as actively live out the values I had taught them in life? The son’s speech stirred so much emotion in me because I know him well and he was in no way euphemizing the way he lived, which was a way in which his father had been proud of in life and now, in death too. Then the MC stood and thanked him, and made a remark that is still sitting in my stomach as I write this. He thanked the son for speaking so wonderfully, he said what a wonderful thing it is for a son to have received many a good values, lessons and advice from a father, it was when he said “it’s a pity that we are living in an increasingly fatherless society” that I almost wept.
I wasn’t sad because I’ve never had a father, in fact, I have two. I was sad for my son, who I think the world of (as do all parents), who will not look back at the age of 46 and remember his father instilling solid values when he was a child. I was broken as I remembered after having attended a school camp out for fathers and children and my boy took me. He took it in his stride, but it was not lost on me, or anyone there for that matter, that this young man came with his mother. I cried for the better part of that camp-out. My fatherless son. Not because of death or illness, but he literally does not have a father. And yes there are male relatives, but they are not and will never ever be his father.
He is not alone. I know too many women raising boys on their own. Call me old fashioned, but there are things that fathers and sons should do. Not because women are unable to, but because it makes so much more sense to. Soccer matches, in fact, sports matches would be a mile better if a father took his son. Haircuts should be a male ritual that I now participate in because, well, who else will? As much as it’s a new, modern day, there are still things that come to men more naturally and I feel that I can never give my son the things a father should…not that I want to because my job is to be an outstanding mother.
I’ve asked this question so often, you’d think I would have accepted by now that it is what it is, but I still can’t get why men are not active fathers to their children. Same children they co-created. Why do some men do it and some men don’t? Why are we so complicit in living in a fatherless society? I say “we” because we all fraternize with men who don’t take care of their kids or have a relationship with them, we marry those men and live with them, we are their mothers and friends, we sit back as they go about their lives as though nothing changed? Why are we so comfortable to fraternize with causers of such a horrible social ill…a crisis? Is this how it will always be? A perpetuated cycle of young men raised by mothers only? When does it end? I am in no way saying we must all marry, but to actively parent and co-parent is something we need to be consciously aware of and talk about in society because what I do know for sure is that an absent father is more respected in society than a woman who has had children out of wedlock.
Writer: Palesa Motau