Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Fathers Matter, Trustbuilding dialogue Report

“Dad: A son's first hero, a daughter's first love.”

On the 9th of July 2022, the IofC Trustbuilding team delivered a dialogue on the theme ‘Fathers Matter’ to the community of Orange Farm at Orange farm Human Rights Advice Centre.  The aim of the event was to honour and appreciate fathers and the men they are before becoming fathers.  Eight men attended the session coming from Orange Farm, Soweto and Midrand communities.

After welcoming, introduction and setting ground rules, we started with the ‘Communication’ session that was led by Cleo.  It focused on Communication as an expression tool. Cleo said that it is not that men cannot communicate.  However, it is the struggle of not expressing and knowing how to communicate better.  We looked at the five languages of love, Concepts from the book by Gary Chapman. He notes the five as words of affirmation, acts of love, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. This is to enable an understanding of different ways of communication and how to understand one's own language and that of those around one.

Cleo shared that she communicates with words and her mother communicates better with gifts.  One participant said, “This (discussion) gives me a new awareness.  I used to be frustrated with my wife that she would want me to talk so much when we are together and all I’ll be wanting to have quality time with her.”

During the session on 'Appreciation', Gladys pointed out that the session is focused on appreciating fathers on 3 levels.  These are: 

  • Appreciating the child you were by affirming, forgiving, engaging your own father as well as involving him as a grandfather.
  • Honouring the man you are and identify words you would like to hear as a man and tell yourself those words every day. 
  • Appreciate yourself as the father, step-father or grandfather you are now by reflecting on words you would like to hear as a father.  Then teach those around you how you would like to be appreciated.

What came out of the session was that most men are still suffering from childhood trauma and they don’t know what to do with it.  Yet they are trying so hard to be better fathers, without a road map guiding how to do it.  Simon said, “I would like to hear my children telling me that I’m a loving and caring father. I also acknowledge that hearing that it will help me start doing things that will make them say those words to me, because I understand children learn from. That will make me so happy.”  One man mentioned that it is hard for him to appreciate himself, like buying himself a chocolate but he always thinks of doing good to others. 

The participants created a charter stating how they want to be better fathers and naming things they will start doing differently.  Some of the points on a charter were: building a culture of fathers that attend clinics when they are sick, taking their children to the clinic when is they are sick, being present in the lives of their children and taking care of their families.

We would like to express our gratitude to all sponsors and donors who made this dialogue possible.