HIM A GOOD, Responsible FATHER
we prepare to celebrate Fathers Day, let us ask
Gods blessings on those to whom He has entrusted
fatherhood; that they may be filled with wisdom, patience,
and strength to undertake their responsibilities effectively.
It was Henry Ward Beecher who said: The most important
thing a father can do for his children is to love their
One can argue that this is not totally true as there have
been cases of irresponsible parents leaving their young
children alone at home while they go off on vacation etc.
One of the most moving memories I have of my father is
the way he held my mothers hand during her dying
As the priest administered the Last Rites, Ma lifted her
head and made the sign of the cross. She then sighed and
was gone. Pa held on to her hand even more tightly.
They had been married for more than 50 years and had weathered
many storms, including prejudice because of their mixed
They loved and respected each other unconditionally. This
does not mean that their life together was smooth sailing.
Like all couples, they had their ups and downs, but the
foundation of their relationship was cemented in faithhe
is Hindu and she was Catholic. Their respect for each
others religion was critical to their relationship.
Today many fathers are not living with their biological
child(ren) or with the mothers of their child(ren). The
breakdown of family life challenges many communities around
the world. Our task as a nation and as local communities
is not to be judgmental but to put legislation and structures
in place to strengthen family life; to assist boys/men/girls/
women to become responsible parents and to play a part
in the lives of their children even if they do not live
What are the qualities of a good father? Inter alia, a
good father places God at the centre of his life or, if
he does not believe in God, he lives a virtuous life;
he is a man of integrity and character who guards his
reputation jealouslyboth in his personal and his
Horace Greeleys words are worth noting: Fame
is a vapour, popularity an accident, riches take wing,
and only character endures.
Many years ago a young girl, Emily, was rescued
by my sister, Indra, in London. Emilys father had
fallen foul of the law in Trinidad. He was convicted and
imprisoned here. Emily was forced to leave the private
school she attended. She apparently had no one to turn
to and nowhere to go. Indra gave her a home.
Emilys behaviour deteriorated. As a therapeutic
counsellor, Indra realised that, to a large extent, Emilys
bad behaviour was as a result of the trauma she was experiencing
because of her fathers fall from grace and its impact
on her life. Thank God Indras two children, Nicholas
and Caroline, were empathetic.
Together with Indra they hung in there, determined to
help this vulnerable young child. Emily remained with
them for more than three years. Today she holds a top
position in the UK and continues to make T&T proud.
To maintain her anonymity, I will not state her position.
I share this experience to make it clear that fathers
at all levels of society must strive to build their character
if they are to be good role models to their families and
A good father plays a pivotal role in his family and helps
to foster morals and values that will underpin the lives
of his children.
Recently Fr Jason Gordon was sharing with me progress
being made in T&Ts Catholic schools with regard
to the Virtues and Values programme that the
Catholic Church is implementing.
Catholic fathers and mothers must participate in this
programme as they have a duty to help their children to
put on the character of Christ. Indeed, parents from all
faith communities should be concerned to promote their
childrens spiritual well- being.
All schools should implement programmes that will help
to build childrens character and promote human development
To assist children to internalise what they learn, parents
and schools should provide opportunities for children
to practise what they are learning, eg through social
action; acting morally and ethically.
A good father works with his spouse/partner and children
to build a home and to create a framework
of firm, fair discipline that does not break his childrens
spirits; he uses opportunities to praise and affirm his
children, to lend them a listening ear and to act as their
mentor; he is approachable and demonstrates his love for
his family in a variety of ways; he promotes his childrens
self-confidence and self-worth; he is reliable and trustworthy
and finds time to participateas a partner with schoolsin
his childrens education.
How many of you fathers read to your children or help
them with their homework? While it is important for a
father to help to provide financially for his family,
simply doling out money to ones children
does not make one a good father.
A good father is concerned about the health and welfare
of his children. He learns about tell-tale signs to determine
if his children are abusing drugs or alcohol or if they
are in possession of a gun.
A good father cares about being a father and does not
see his children as accessories/bling.
He guides them and devises strategies to steer them away
from the social ills that seek to engulf them, eg gangs,
negative peer pressure, and criminal activity.
He seeks to empower them so that they will be able to
make the right decisions and choices in their lives.
Finally, a good father puts family before political party
and speaks out when necessary in order to build a better
country for his family and for all of us.
Let us show that we value the role of fathers by honouring
our fathers and creating conditions in T&T that will
foster responsible fatherhood.
n Leela Ramdeen is a
lawyer and education consultant