Stories

A father shares

At the tender age of six I truly realized the importance of women in my life – my mother was diagnosed with cancer and died at a very young age. My mother was a strong, loving, and caring presence in my family and in the community around us. She was held in high esteem and was respected for her generosity and genuine concern for others. Since then, and with the help of strong male and female figures around me, I grew up to gain a deep respect and appreciation for social justice and equality between men and women.slide58

Now, as an adult, and a father of three wonderful boys, I am committed to doing my part to helping my sons grow up with a similar appreciation and commitment to gender equality. I believe the most important role I can play is in being present and active in my sons’ life, and being open and accessible to discuss with them what it means to be respectful, loving, caring, and open towards the women in their life.

Recently, on the way to dropping them off at school, Rihanna’s song “Don’t Stop the Music” came on the radio. This is one of their favourite songs and Rihanna tops their list of popular artists.

I lowered the volume slightly and told them about the violence she had recently experienced from her boyfriend. They asked a lot of questions, each filled with sadness and concern.I explained to them that it’s not right for men to hit their girlfriends, and that disagreements are best resolved with words rather than violence. When one of them said “he didn’t have the right to do that to her,” I knew that I had been successful in getting the message to them.

I use every opportunity to talk about social justice and gender equality with my sons. I bring the newspaper to the breakfast table and read out loud some of the more interesting headlines as an opportunity to start discussion. I have noticed that they are taking increased interest and will often ask questions about photos and article headlines. I model healthy discussion by asking lots of questions about their feelings towards particular topics and listening to what they have to say, adding my own thoughts and ideas along the way. I find that has been the best approach in discussing healthy relationships between men and women with my sons.

I know I can’t control what their future is going to be, but I know I can make a difference in their life by being a caring and concerned father, by showing that asa man, I believe in and care about equality between men and women. I think my mother would have been proud.

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Send us a story about being a father and events in your life that made a difference in learning about gender equality and healthy, equal relationships. Visit Digital Stories for additional stories.

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