Give Father's Day the respect it deserves | Nandell Palmer

Father’s Day in Federal Way is going to be a bittersweet one for me this year.

For the last four years, I had been rooting for a young man at a particular high school. He seemingly had so many odds going against him, yet he persevered. I was looking forward to cheering him on at his graduation last week. But alas, it was not to be.

This was a student whose mother had physical and mental challenges and whose father was serving a long-term prison sentence. With no adult supervision, he singlehandedly raised himself from elementary through high school. Teachers looked out for him.

Recently, when I inquired of his whereabouts, a classmate informed me that, like his father, he was incarcerated. She said that after his mother died on Mother’s Day 2010, he felt as though he had lost everything. Could an active father at home avert this youth’s unfortunate path?

Listening to many prime-time athletes and actors as they give shout-outs to loved ones at award ceremonies, the term “father” is merely a byword of scorn.

Plain and simple, Mama is the only daddy they know. It is said that the two busiest days of the year for restaurants are Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Father’s Day lags way behind.

But why should it be this way when there are so many good fathers around? Are there changes afoot to shift this paradigm? Will Father’s Day ever gain the kind of respect accorded to mothers globally?

One of the most painful realities of life is treating somebody well and that action is not reciprocated. Thus, many people fall victims to the naive assumption that a father’s presence at home always translates into success for his sons. Good parenting doesn’t always make productive sons or daughters and vice versa.

Many times obstacles in life, like not having a father at home, can be used as stepping stones to achieve greater goals. Take, for example, Korea’s newest sensation, Sung Bong Choi, who raised himself on the street since age 5, sleeping in public restrooms and selling gum in order to survive without any parental involvement.

Recently after wowing millions of television viewers with his Pavarotti-style tenor on “Korea’s Got Talent,” the 22-year-old has become the darling of Asia. He’s indeed the poster child of nothingness to overnight stardom, akin to England’s Susan Boyle.

Now, what would the pundits say? I wonder how differently that young man would have turned out had a father been in his life. Would his father’s presence help or hinder his successes?

There is no overnight cure for parenting malaise, even if each home were manned by a father. Understand that the assault on the head of the family is a multi-faceted one. Some of the sordid practices of the past have persisted to this day in breaking down the moral fiber of fatherhood.

The home is a far more different place than what it was 30 years ago. Increasingly, more women are called upon to assume the role of head of household. I doff my hat to them for being that stabilizing force for their progeny.

Once upon a time, economic conditions made the father’s physical presence in the home an impossibility, especially in societies where seafaring was the means of economic support. To a lesser degree, today we see the same thing happening with military deployments.

Women then who were used to being the de facto heads of the home had a difficult time giving up the reins to their husbands when the economy became more land-based. The fallout from such arrangement is that fathers at times are challenged for leadership in decision-making as it relates to child-rearing.

To all the Sung Bong Chois of the world who cannot readily say happy Father’s Day, my prayers are with you. Again, my utmost respect to mothers that have selflessly raised their children all by themselves. I say hurrah to fathers of all stripes who have done their part to make Father’s Day more meaningful.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates