FAMILY
WHEN DOES FATHERING STOP?

In some foreign countries when the child is above eighteen, such assumed adult is free to roam to fend for himself. With such gained freedom, parenting seems to have stopped for such children; male and female. In our African society children grow beyond eighteen and still remain with their parents. Some even stay for a while in their parents’ home even after their marriage.
For the sake of simplicity, parenting could emphasize fathering as a means of providing love, discipline, encouragement and focus to the child. Fathering produces a stronger influence for stirring the ship of family-hood. The term mothering produces a child ‘spoilage effect’. Fathering consideration here is over the male child.

What are the expectations in fathering? To provide shelter, food, discipline, pay school fees, provide clothing, pocket money, books and more. Discipline through decreeing codes of conduct expected of everyone living under the roof; when to get back home, how to greet, ethics of eating at the table, morning duties, mode of worship, reading and homework, hygiene and personal cleanness. Above all, the complete education of the individual through providing school-fees from infancy to the level of skills acquisition in a higher institute.

Now, after these are done and the child leaves home, gets a wife and settles down.  The question still is: has fathering got to its limit and is no longer needed? The answer is both “yes” and “no.” “Yes” in the sense that the new family does not need 'external police' or interference and “no” because parenting continues without limits on caring, consoling and loving. These are continuous aspects of parenting.

For the last part, the aim of parenting is to mould the child. Even a married child can still be moulded through advice. The attitude of men downplays this aspect because most fathers think their duty to their children ends with providing them with a sound education. They fail to see that their children’s children are still their own children. Therefore the well-being or otherwise of their immediate children should bother them till death if they wish to be remembered as good parents.

It is the care or well-being that also provides the feeling of love and care which their immediate children owe them for reciprocity. A child even though now married but who feels abandoned by his parent’s “I -don’t-care” attitude also would feel a detachment to such people. Parenting is not taught, it is an extension of a good nature inherent in the person. A parent who feels thus: “My son, I have trained you and provided you with good discipline. Your children are your responsibility; hence provide them with good discipline”. Even though this philosophy is correct, the grandchildren would themselves feel detached from such grandparents who can afford a widow’s mite but will not say “take this for eraser and pencil” all because they feel they have finished their job.

A family is a feeling and not a collection of people. If one feels he has finished his job, that is the limit of being relevant in a growing family and for which his seed would be losing relevance.
Care is not about providing money but it is about asking or showing concern:
“How are your wife and children?”
“How is your business?”
“How is your job?”
“How are you coping with news on increased fuel?”
“What are you planning to do when you retire?”       

When the emphasis of a father is on his personal want and comfort, then the feeling of care for his grown son’s welfare is absent and this absence is translated as a love that is dying.
It is a wrong myth for fathers to feel that; they would be soft if they ask “how are the children coping with the loss of your job,” as if such would be an excuse for their children to cut them off from their upkeep. Parenting is not selfishness.






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