While listening to a religious radio programme, the moderator noted that only men could teach their sons certain lessons. Living in a matriarchal society, the percentage of fathers who live with their sons is decreasing, for a variety of reasons. Women have had enough of being treated unfairly by their partners and they ask the fathers to leave. Some men choose to abandon their families. Other men live apart from their children who are raised in other households. Yet there is an increase in the percentage of men who live with their children as they either follow the good examples set by their fathers or vow to be unlike the fathers who left them as children.
My father taught his daughter what it means to be a good father. The moderator explained the four important lessons which only a man can teach his son. A father must teach his son to be a protector, provider, a servant leader and a spiritual mentor. This is the effectual role of man. God created man not only to be fruitful and multiply but to rule over the earth. He put him a little lower than the heavenly beings. Why must it be the father? What is wrong with the mother teaching her sons these lessons?
People were afraid of my father, until they got to know him. The male of the species is usually more aggressive and defensive. He must act that way to protect his territory from his enemies. The territory includes possessions but more importantly the family. In certain societies men were trained to be warriors. In the prehistoric Carib society, the men lived apart from the women. From the age of four, boys went to live with the men. At thirteen, they were initiated as priests or warriors. Each initiation was intense as the boys were taught to bear immense pain without flinching. A flinch shows weakness and weakness will not be tolerated by men. In West African societies, males underwent an initiation ceremony, similar to that of the Carib. Today men are still expected to be the protector; from small acts as walking on the car side of the street to ensuring that if anything happens to the family, they will be there as a protector.
My father earned less money than my mother, yet he ensured that the family’s needs were met. Over half a century ago, women did not work. They were expected to engage in activities in the private sphere of life. This encompassed the household duties such as cooking, washing, pressing and rearing the children. Today the woman’s role has expanded as in addition to the beforehand mentioned duties, she has a job. In some cases in the woman may be the sole breadwinner. She will pay all costs associated with the family. The moderator realized that in the modern society when a couple is dating, the woman is expected to pay. This does not reflect the teachings of the father and son, where the man is the provider. Even if he does not earn the largest salary in the household, his earnings should go towards providing for his family’s needs.
My father brought his problems to God before he made any decisions. As a priest, my father would meditate deeply every morning. I did not understand why. As a little girl all I knew was that I should not disturb him for he was meditating. When there was conflict among church members, he meditated and embarked upon a decision making process that benefitted those involved. When I told him about my pregnancy with my first child and I was unmarried, he did not speak to me for two days. Afterwards he said that he will be a grandfather now. I knew how difficult it was to utter those words on his part. But it showed acceptance of the situation and his unconditional love for me. My father embodied the traits of a servant leader. Before he led his congregation or his family, he consulted with God through prayer and meditation. He knew that God was in control and he trusted in His wisdom and guidance.
My father was a spiritual mentor. Many people admired and looked up to him. Many people relied on him physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. He supported so many persons during their personal challenges in life. His life was not his own. He lost his life and found it through serving God. That is why he still lives within my heart. We were together in the house when he died and he still embodied those four important lessons in his last hours on earth. He knew that he was dying and he protected me by carrying on as if all was well when it was clearly the opposite. He provided for me because when I had to go to the supermarket to buy a few groceries, he gave me too much money. When I confronted him he said that I will need it. He was a servant leader because he consulted with God in his devotions before he died on the anniversary of his ordination as a priest. He was a spiritual mentor because on the day that he died his best friend needed his advice on an intellectual matter and his support at a service commemorating their ordination. My father said that he would not be able to make it but he would be there in the spirit. And that is exactly how it is.