The Role of a Father in a Child Development and Behavior (Part 1)

Posted: December 7, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Featured Articles, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Miss Adol Makeny Dhieu, Sydney, Australia

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Introduction:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Dealing with difficult wife? Remember what’s at stake. Your relationship maybe important, but your children are more important.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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 <adolamckeny@gmail.com>

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

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Comments
  1. william Abur says:

    First, Miss Adol Makeny Dhieu well done for raising this topic for discussion. Second, the fact this issue is raised by you as a female in a South Sudanese community in Australia has added some weight to the debate. Until many educated women like you start speaking up about social issues in our community, we a long way to go to my sister.

    Our people have or had lost direction when it come to rearing or raising children in Australia. It is heartbreaking to see young men and young women’s futures is wasted in a country with many opportunities as like Australia. I’m a social worker by profession and I worked with both young people and families.
    I cannot blame young people, but welfare system and social security. Many families break up because of social security payment, lack of understanding of freedom and western culture. In the west, people do start thinking and working for 20 or 50 year project.This is exactly what happened when it come the South Sudanese situation in Australia.
    I have done my PhD research on settlement related issues and I can tell people, those young men and young women who have contacted with the juvenile system in Australia will have a bad future if they continue living in Australia.They will have no jobs because of bad records. A lot of parents don’t see as a problem for their children.
    I know a lot of mothers and fathers who are not doing the right things. Some men gave up on their families because of the situation they have been exposed to in their own families by their wives. We all know this if you are living in Australia. Lack of education and trauma are also among the contributing factors when it comes to this problem.

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  2. Deng Ajak says:

    And add on to your comment too, Adol Dr Makeny Dhieu, you said all, your incitement photos still have weigh on board too. I was first born child , raised as well disciplined, I was subjected to cattle keeping where by I was subject to many disciplines ground as my parents alone won’t be able to do that job by themselves, but the society and community at large were my mentor. Though I was raised in wealth family, but that was not limit to my childhood behaviour , everyone could beat me on disciplinary measure, I was naughty boy as my boys now do. Western culture on other hand is good to be embrace, but it bad for child development.

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  3. Kur Wel Kur says:

    My sister, thanks for your well-written and well-balanced article. I live in Australia so I know the problems you highlighted most in depths. Surely, men have roles to play in their children’s lives, but in foreign lands with foreign laws, women must bear the leading roles.

    Why?

    Women and children are lifelines of anybody’s traditions/cultures. However, when the laws of the land are their (women) sides and some women take advantage to mistreat the fathers of their children, then we all fail. Some women submerge themselves in some monologues or dialogues in presence of their children, blaming men for any failure, children will unconsciously or consciously believe that their fathers are wastes of human souls. They (them children) rebel as soon as they become of age. So, my sister, the continuity of traditions/legacies as South Sudanese of various tribes, especially the Dinka are squarely in the palms of our women.

    If these concerns such as those you raised in your article are discussed in our women’s parties: ‘Nyok de dugaam'(loosely translated as midwives thankyou party), baby’s shower, Hena-night parties, and many other women’s parties, then our families’ and our children’s future is bright. However, dancing to Dinganyaai’s, Mony de Akol Yin, …and their likes never allow our women to reflect on real issues, hope-extinguishing issues.

    Otherwise, my sister, thanks for your well-written article. I would have written an appraisal article on your article, but I don’t have time.

    With best regards,
    Kur Wel Kur.

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  4. Atem Atem says:

    Adol has raised an important problem: the role of South Sudanese parents in the life of their children (thanks Adol). This is timely for South Sudanese in Australia with South Sudanese young people in Melbourne causing lots of pain. I should note that it is a small number of South Sudanese young people (boys) in Melbourne who are causing headache.

    I feel that Adol’s writing is problematic and responses like that of William Abur make it harder to make sense of the situation of South Sudanese young people and their parents in Australia. There is a clear confusion about what parenthood means in South Sudanese cultures. It is not clear whether Adol is referring to a specific South Sudanese culture – village culture in a particular region, rural urban culture, Sudanese city culture (juba vs Khartoum), displaced camp culture, Egyptian culture, refugee camp culture (Kenya, Ethiopia). This confusion by itself is not an issue but it leads to wrong assumptions being made about the South Sudanese culture and therefore about the role of parenting and family.

    Adul seems to hold the Western culture in high esteem and suggest that it is advanced because the role of the father is placed in focus through research. Again, there is confusion about what makes Western culture. If one follows the recent Australian Royal Commission on Child Sex Abuse one would not view the Australian culture in terms of child rearing a good Western model for us to place against South Sudanese cultural attitudes of men towards children. I am also not sure what Adol Means by ‘Westernised’ adding more confusion to the piece.

    What is at the heart of Adol’s piece is her genuine desire to highlight an issue she is passionate about and making some observations that come from her lived experience. She wants to see men and women from South Sudan who live in Australia (Sydney) to take responsibility for their families not only by investing in their children but also working together. This call by Adol need to be heeded. The truth is that South Sudanese families have problems like any other family and parents need to do something about these problems.

    The responses that follow Adol’s piece are equally not helpful. I pick on Willam Abur’s comments because william Abur has a PhD and his thesis investigated some of these issues. Abur blames ‘our people’ for the demise of young South Sudanese in Australia and predicts a dark future for South Sudanese young people. He blames the Australian welfare state. It is not helpful to blame the whole community for bad media headlines about a small number of young people. I don’t understand how a social scientist could blame all of us, South Sudanese, as a people for failing to manage our families. This is not helpful because it doesn’t provide any solutions to the problem at hand. Abur also blames Australia’s welfare system for the demise of the South Sudanese family in Australia. The welfare system in Australia is not a problem in relation to South Sudanese families. In fact, without the welfare support South Sudanese families get at least initially settlement in Australia for South Sudanese could be much more complicated. Imagine coming to Australia with nothing no access to financial support. It seems to me that Abur is pointing to a particular problem that some South Sudanese families experience in managing welfare support monies. This doesn’t mean that the welfare system is to blame for what is going on in South Sudanese families. Again, there is confusion over what the problem is.

    Abur also suggests that we, all South Sudanese in Australia, see South Sudanese family problems in the same way and therefore agree with his description and analysis and conclusion. This is not true. South Sudanese have a diverse experience of family and different views on how they see the problem South Sudanese families are facing in Australia. Lack of education and experience of trauma by themselves are not a problem in relation to managing family. The majority of South Sudanese families are functional and problems are handled responsibly most of the time though South Sudanese families have experienced traumatic situations before coming to Australia and many came to Australia with little or no education.

    My concern about Adol’s piece above and the responses that followed is that a complex problem is presented in a very misleading manner that portrays South Sudanese in Australia as people who have failed to manage their families. There is a genuine concern about South Sudanese families in Australia and all of us, South Sudanese in Australia, have a role to play to address those concerns. However, the definition of the problem should be guided by grounding understanding in the experience of South Sudanese families and not making generalisations based on unfounded simplistic assumptions that fuel confusion leading to further misunderstanding of the problem.

    South Sudanese people and their families are resilient and have done well in the majority of cases. When discussing their issues, there is need to bring out the complexity of the issues and the positive role played by South Sudanese in resolving these issues so that South Sudanese people and families are not presented as deficient and victims of their actions and the system they are bounded by.

    I look forward to reading Adol’s next piece.

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