Today is Father’s Day and it’s celebrated in much the same vein as Mother’s Day. Family gatherings and luncheons with the requisite drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) are the more popular ways of honouring the nation’s fathers.
However, there is a difference because in some parts of the world Father’s Day is celebrated on March 19, the Feast Day of St Joseph or during April. But that’s a story for another time.
In my younger days, Father’s Day celebrations were not as popular as they are today. So, it is rather difficult for me to write knowledgeably about the subject, but there is an aspect of fatherhood which affects a large proportion of the country’s fathers and which is responsible in large measure for the behaviour of so many of our youths be it school bullying and fighting, rudeness, lack of respect, especially for the elders, and runaway girls.
In Trinidad and Tobago, there hangs a heavy cloud over the celebrations. There are so many children in this country who do not know their fathers. As a matter of fact, lack of a father figure during their growing up years leads to all sorts of complications.
This lack may be the result of relationships gone sour, something so prevalent in our ‘free society’. For instance, statistics inform us of the millions of dollars in maintenance owed by the nation’s irresponsible fathers. Could these mothers and even the fatherless families really celebrate Father’s Day? I think not.
With that out of the way let us now deal with our local observance of Father’s Day. As I said before, back in the day I did not even know there was such a thing as Father’s Day. We knew of Mother’s Day. But, when I became a father and my children were old enough to understand, Father’s Day became as big a celebration as Mother’s Day in our household.
Fantastic lunches were prepared, done by mom of course and many gifts, financed by mom again, so the celebration of Father’s Day in our family was great, but when they became adults and got married, we got accustomed to celebrating at the various family homes with sumptuous lunches including barbecues. Since my sons and son-in-law do not drink alcohol, I was forced to imbibe such drinks by my lonesome!
That apart, over the years commercialism gradually took over and soon the majority of business houses had ‘specials’ for fathers—fragrances, shaving products, jewellery, shirts and tee shirts, slacks, ties and wristwatches and of course, those alluring alcohol specials were among the many gifts.
More recently however, the emphasis is on things to make fathers do more work around the house lessening their spare time. They seem designed to induce a busier life for dad, by offering a number of power tools supposedly to make life easier. Things like electric saws, power drills, toolsets and the like, which subtly tell fathers they are supposed to work even harder when Father’s Day is done!
It’s all very beautiful and families do enjoy the festivities in a real way. It is just a pity that so many children do not have fathers at home. Kareem Gomez, aged 35, a recently freed young man from prison had a stirring message for those fathers who refuse to live up to their parental responsibilities. He said he believed a lot of the delinquency among young people is caused by absentee fathers.
In a Trinidad Guardian interview he said, “Fathers, try and be there for your sons because children need a father. A mother cannot do everything. A mother cannot do what the father could do for a son and the father is the backbone of the family.”
So after all the celebrations today—Father’s Day 2019, maybe fathers who do not measure up could take example and be encouraged to become better fathers and by extension make their contribution to a better, more inspiring Trinidad and Tobago by bringing up more upstanding, respectful and kinder children.