All too often at Childhood, we encounter social workers, orphanage directors and volunteers who complain that fathers do not seem to care, and that there is no point in even trying to get them involved. However, we know that an engaged, present and loving father is of great importance for a child. And we know that there are dads out there who care deeply about their children and want to get involved but who need support along the way. Read our project manager Britta Holmberg's chronicle of the importance of a father.
What do dads actually do? Nothing at all. It's almost like I start to believe it myself when I listen to the social workers, orphanage director and volunteers in Russia and South Africa, who only talk about the role of mothers. It is the mother who lives an "immoral living," or "used up their parental rights" so that the child must be disposed of society. It is the mother who gets blamed because she decided to have children despite not being able to take care of and it is she who must take full responsibility. But it is also the mother who is the man you want to help to take care of their children despite difficult circumstances. When I timidly ask "and fathers do?" Shake the head.
No. No idea. You can not. Not here. They do not care. They just fight and super-away child benefit. Better to be without them. The township Mabupane outside Pretoria described, for example, as a whole father less society. The men are indeed. But not for the family.
And that of course, vulnerability even more fragile, when instead of having two more or less present parents with their faults and shortcomings can only rely on one. And the mother's burden becomes very heavy. And when she can not manage to hit the children in a very tangible way.
But I refuse to believe that fathers in Russia and South Africa love their children less than our Swedish dads do. I wonder how much the expectations influence our choices. If no one expects you to be there with your wife during pregnancy and small children, it might be easy to think that one is not needed. When no one asks what the father takes on responsibility after divorce or when the mother falters he need never even consider whether he can and can take care of their children.
But just as I start to doubt, I leave for a while the social receptions and aid organizations. It is a beautiful autumn day and I take a ride in a big, beautiful park right in the center of Ekaterinburg. And there are those in plenty. The present ordinary fathers. Fathers who pulls stroller. Dads who play football with the kids. Fathers who teach their sons to ride.
And in South Africa, I get a ride to the airport by a young man who shines with happiness when he talks about his children. But when he was 17, and 16-year-old girlfriend became pregnant, expecting all that he would stick. His friends thought he was an idiot who allowed themselves to be ensnared so early. But he withstood the pressure and followed her heart and is now a regular but uncommon, proud father of three children.
So the good examples exist. They can be more.
In recent years, Childhood begun to support several projects aimed directly at fathers and in a short time, we have seen positive results. A father of one of our South African projects, said he initially thought that a father's role was to support the family but through fatherhood, he participates in, he understood that he has a more important role than that, "I learned that a parent also shows love. It's something I always wished that my dad would do. "