By Miss Adol Makeny Dhieu, Sydney, Australia
December 7, 2016 (SSB) — Role of fathers in their children lives is not a Western idea only. It is as universal and natural as creation itself. Western cultures have however advanced in making it a focal point of research and study simply to reinforce its important in a developing child’s life. Developing societies too have their ways of reinforcing this idea, for example, in South Sudan villages and across rural Africa, men take on various roles deem manly with their sons en-toed.
They could go hunting together, storytelling, herding, cultivating, making tools (if bless with blacksmith or engineering skills) etc. In cities for example, a true Southern man would spare time and spend it with his children, ask about how their day went and what they did at school, tell them about his work and the impact it has on the society etc. Child-rearing, was never a woman job only, nor is it parents only, it indeed takes a village in Africa and elsewhere for that matter, to raise a child, especially boys.
South Sudanese parents in the west, especially in Australia and specifically fathers, have either lost touch with this idea at no fault of their own or have intentionally decides to neglect their primary roles as fathers. This article intend to outline issues that led to failure of not meeting this obligation, few alleviating suggestions and lastly, the importance of a fatherly role in a child’s life.
But because there is so much materials to fit into one paper, I decided to write it in two parts. Part one, this one, will focus on causations and suggestive solutions, part two will be a research paper on the importance of fathers’ roles in their children lives.
So where did men fail as fathers
Most Southern Sudanese men have set off in search of the unknown, some with good intentions, and others driven by blind visions and egotistical agendas leaving behind mothers to raise children on their own. Some are driven by “culture” of marrying many wives. As soon as they have a spare dollar in their accounts or fortunate enough to have good credit that could lend them few thousand dollars from the bank, they took off to South Sudan to marry “Binia suker”, as if child abuse is something to gloat about.
Others are unfortunately victims of “westernized” women, while some have simply thrown their towels in, spending time with like-minded friends on the street shops and cafes in Sydneys’ Blacktown, Melbourne Footscray, Perth Mirrabooka and other Australian cities street shops and cafes.
On the other hand and largely so, some have due to marital problems with wives, chose to take off in search of another and a new beginning. The children in these fail marriages are therefore neglected and left with their mothers to carry the crosses, whatever happen to them, is none of his (their fathers) problems.
The solutions: Men/fathers
There are no specific remedies to the above as these issues are purely subjective, though their impact universally affects us all. So I think:
- Charity begins at home. Your future is now, when you invest in your children and raised them right, the future of a community and indeed the country is bright, and that’s half your job done.
- Dealing with difficult wife? Remember what’s at stake. Your relationship maybe important, but your children are more important.
- Want to marry many wives? Think about the off-springs and your involvements in their lives. While there is nothing wrong with moving on, children should not suffer because of it. Find consensus on how you are going to live your separate lives but prioritized your children. The fault however, may not lies in your stars but yourself. A new beginning, may not be so different after all.
Contributory factor/s: Women
Women are not spot and blameless when it comes to some men not meeting their fatherly roles. As I mentioned earlier, some fathers absents in their children lives resulted in faults that aren’t theirs. Women need to know the importance of men is not just sex, sperm donation and support (financial or others) as some took this idea and ran away with it straight to the bank.
Some women in the west, especially here in Australia, have driven husbands and fathers of their children out of their homes for various reasons. Women with legitimate reasons of leaving their husbands amount to less than 50% (this is not a scientific estimate or fact, but base on personal observations and stories). Rest are absurdities, for example, husband is too old for my liking now, ancient force marriage grudges, selfish pursuit of personal “freedom and happiness” etc.
Further, we have “westernized” women who think they now have what it takes to raise children on their own, because they are somehow educated, have jobs and others, have Centrelink (Centrelink is a government welfare agency in Australia). Some went ahead to call Centrelink “monydie centrlink” or “my husband Centrelink”, because it fulfils the financial aspect of a man/husband/father.
While holding degrees, jobs or welfare payment is good, it serves a small aspect in children upbringing. The impact of these absurdities are that children end up being neglected as the attention and care their fathers use to provides lags and the results are psychological and behavioral problems, prisons, gang memberships and at worst, death. We’ve had a record number of deaths by suicide and alcohol induced accidents in our community, yet no one talks about it, another form of failure/deficiency in the community.
Being independent does not mean breaking up families or social fabrics of a society, had this been the idea of real Western females and feminists, West wouldn’t be what it is today. Furthermore, we do not see real Western women kicking their husbands and fathers of their children to the kerb, simply because they can afford to raise them.
A true Western woman would do anything to have a father in her child/ren lives, even when divorced, she makes sure whatever household arrangement in place pertaining to children remains unchanged. However, it should be noted that not all single mothers have fail.
Many have succeeded (and note that most single mothers who succeeded are those who came here single for good reasons manufactured by situations out of their control, and those left but just to raise their children) in raising children as single parents, and others will.
Therefore, the real solutions may lie with us women:
Women: Men are not just sex machines, sperm donors and cash cows. Those with this kind of mentality aren’t helping but feeding into the already bad situation with our men.
The buck stops with us. Despite being placed at the margin of our society, we are the glue that holds the social fabric of our communities together, including the cultures that does so little to our comfort. Let gather the strength our great grandmother’s and the generations before them had.
- Our mothers and our mothers’ mothers, faced the same challenges, whatever they maybe, but they put first one thing and one thing only, their children. We could do the same. Put our children first.
- If you are fortunate to have in your life a man and father who knows his priorities, respect and encourage him, not only as a household hero, but also as his communities keeper as is being done by some whose husbands are serving South Sudanese communities voluntarily across Australia.
- If you are blessed with children and a mismatch father, don’t get discourage and consumed by it, encourage the little contact he may afford to his children, for their sake, ever heard of a father figure?
- If you are blessed with children and an outright lunatic, by all means your safety and that of children is paramount. Keep him out if you must, but let him be involved in their lives in whatever way possible.
- Relationship gone South? No one can force a non-existence relation. But civility in the name of children should be in place. Remembering that if their father couldn’t do right by them, what will be of a random man and/or stepfather?
South Sudanese men and women need to sit and ponder upon how this failure came about, regardless of where you stand as a family man or woman in the community here in Australia.
We need to do a lot of soul searching and start talking, not gossiping, and talking to each other about these issues in order to help ourselves, our children or those of our community members.
You can reach the author via her email: Adol Makeny <email@example.com>
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