I can’t think of anything to write about [today] except families. They are a metaphor for every other part of society. Not my words; rather those of the Pulitzer Prize winning American author, Anna Quindlen. But let me seize them as mine for today.
I am the boss in the house! The colossus! She is the subordinate! The yes-person! This is the typical saying and thinking of the Sierra Leonean husband or boyfriend to the partner. It is not a twang, he believes (in) it. Consequently, he would do whatever pleases him without expecting questions asked. Let alone challenged. And his defence ranges from the bizarre to the callous.
According to the late US humorist and poet, Ogden Nash, “A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men [and] women…” But attend thanksgivings in schools, which always happen at weekends. Mothers you see. Hospitals, mothers only there will be! Never mind care in the home. The men’s stereotype is anything but stereotypical now. We provide for the home, they chest-beat. That has changed! From the villages to the towns and cities, more and more women are becoming the breadwinners. From the mammies who fetch wood, work on the farm and do petty businesses, to those who have white collar jobs all to either feed the home or do so in part.
The mentality of old is probably reason family values do not take centre stage in our country’s politics. Wives are often not given a front row role. The wives of some MPs and even Ministers are tucked in the home, while girlfriends and concubines take the fore. Do we bother to check whether our public officials who go abroad with a female partner paid for from tax payers’ money really travel with their wives?
In all this is the impact on the children. Hear the late American singer Luther Vandros in his celebrated song DANCE WITH MY FATHER: “Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence. My father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me. And then spin me around ‘til I fell asleep. Then up the stairs he would carry me. And I knew for sure I was loved.”
I wonder how many children enjoy this in our society today. Many fathers come home when the kids are asleep and wake up when the mums have already readied them for school.
Most disheartening of the behaviour of some fathers is their mere presence in the home, or the lack of it. While they laugh at women for streaming into churches, they do not bother take a good look at themselves and how they flock into bars boozing. When the wife asks, he gets irascible or even temerarious. This has a knock-on effect of the children who get nettlesome in such circumstances.
Hear Vandross again: “When I and my mother would disagree, to get my way I would run from her to him. He made me laugh just to comfort me. Then finally he made me do just what my mama said.”
If you are a child or a mum, I wonder when last you and your husband and the kids played together. “Meetings” get longer for the husbands, as far as the wife and children are concerned. Consequently, mothers are left to look after the kids, alone! Even though the mothers do extremely well, some of them cannot do that well single-handedly.
Consequently, some daughters go haywire and end up becoming prostitutes; while boys have become drug addicts and robbers. Minors become parents sometimes in the hands of other minors. School sport meets have turned into battlefields.
I wonder when was the last time some fathers actually kept the company of their children, told the moral stories and taught them nationalism. Not all of that should be left to the teacher.
Let me leave you with this quote from the US defence attorney Clarence Darrow: “The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, and the second half by our children.” Give it your own interpretation.
By Umaru Fofana