Fathers’ and Mothers’ Day Celebrations: The Need for a Better Understanding

It is one of the functional attributes of international organizations, corporations and religious bodies like the Holy See, Organization of Islamic Corporation, United Nations, World Health Organizations, International Monetary Fund, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), et cetera, to set aside a day for the celebration of a thing, an ideology, a person or a phenomenon with the goal of raising global concerns, vigilance, practical political and social responsibilities towards it.

For instance, when the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St. Valentine every year on the 14th of February, She does so as a constant invitation to Christians to consider and emulate the steadfastness of St. Valentine who fought for righteousness’ sake, even till death. The ‘goal’ of celebrating of Valentine, therefore, is to encourage Christians to pray and to bear every adversity for the sake of love for God and for fellow men.

Also, when the United Nation celebrates international women’s day on March 8,  the day is set aside to reflect on the wellbeing of women and on all forms of gender-based violence which have unfortunately prevented the blossoming of our social environment and industry, even as we wrestle with the disease of Rape and other hideous sex-based crimes in the 21st century, in a modern state like Nigeria.

Furthermore, the unpopular International Men’s Day (IMD), celebrated on the 19th of November, was instituted in 1999 by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh, a History Professor at the University of West Indies, in Trinidad and Tabago. This celebration, officially backed by UNESCO, has the objective of raising more awareness and responsibility on men’s health (Prostate Cancer and the rest of them), social relations and to tackle endemic problems like poverty and economic relations, in the family and the society at large.

More so, it should be noted that participation in the above celebrations is restricted to ‘men’ and ‘women’ – underscoring the simple notion that only males and females, from the age of eighteen (18), are considered to be the centre of concern and therefore the official celebrants of the above days. It is not the same objective in Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day celebrations.

The first mistake we make is in the belief that Mothers’ Day celebration is for women who have given birth to children and that Fathers’ Day celebration is for men who have begotten children. Sadly, these celebrations, with its erroneous conceptions, are so terribly organized in some churches, villages and communities, that childless couples feel ashamed to even worship in church or share in community participation on the designated days. In some extreme cases, couples who have decided to adopt children are scorned as not being ‘real’ fathers or ‘real’ mothers.  

It is important that we understand that Motherhood or Fatherhood is not an attainable status by any social index or action. Motherhood or Fatherhood is a natural, unique, life-giving principle of maleness or femaleness built in every human being, from birth and sustained through life till death. A day-old baby is a father or a mother because of the natural, biological principles of maternity or paternity that is inherent in the baby – the natural, God-given traits that should be properly nurtured till death.

We have many cases in our hospitals where a fourteen-year-old boy impregnates a thirteen-year-old girl pregnant. Both are not adults. The terms, ‘man’ and ‘woman’ cannot be applied to them respectively because of their ages. But there they are; the names, ‘mother’ and ‘father’ can be applied to them not actually because they have reproduced but because that natural principle of motherhood and fatherhood is available in them, even as children.

It is good that our society develops a more meaningful and accommodating understanding of these things, appreciates the operational philosophy around them and takes a more practical and inclusive responsibility towards them. If we celebrate Fathers’ Day or Mothers’ Day, a realistic political and developmental will should be taken to ensure the realization of its objectives or else, the celebration will continue to remain a media-enhanced noise.

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