It is June 21. In Canada it is National Aboriginal Day. This is a day where we honour the Indigenous people who have been established in this country for millenia. Fatherhood has been a growing issue within Aboriginal communities in recent times, with many things influencing the role these fathers take in their children’s lives. So we honour these men today by offering some thoughts about the roles Aboriginal fathers can take. (This is adapted from Beginning the Journey of Fatherhood: A guide for Aborignal men, by Jessica Ball and Candice Manahan. It is available through http://www.dadcentral.ca).
The Most Important Things Aboriginal Fathers Do For Their Children
Indigenous fathers have spoken out about the most important things they do for their children. Here is what some of them have said:
Being there for my children.
Aboriginal fathers can be there to comfort their children, protect them, provide for them, and spend quality time with them. Making sure their children know they are worthy and loved is very important.
Playing with my children.
Aboriginal fathers can take their children to the playground, wrestle with them, go skating with them, play videogames and take them to the park.
Being a role model.
Many Aboriginal fathers say it was very important to be the man in their child’s life, or the father figure in their child’s life. They want their child to grow up with a positive male role model.
Teaching children about good morals, structure and respect.
Fathers can help children learn to respect their Elders and understand a good work ethic. Teaching the importance of education and providing good discipline and guidance are critical for children.
Reading stories or watching movies.
Reading stories, telling stories and sharing a good movie can be very special times for dads and children. This can happen at bedtime or cuddling up on the couch together. Some dads like building small forts out of blankets and chairs where they can read with their children.
Teaching my child the culture.
Fathers can teach their children dances, prayers, songs and drumming. They can take them to sweats, teach children their native language, and share old legends and other traditions.
A roof over their head.
Aboriginal fathers can meet the basic needs of their children, including providing money, getting them a safe place to live and taking their children to the hospital when they are sick. Fathers can also look after the day-to-day care giving, like changing diapers, bathing their children, feeding them or getting them ready for school.
Teaching my child to be confident, to communicate and to deal with emotions.
Fathers can teach their children to express their feelings, which helps with their self-esteem. This is through teaching children to give hugs and to talk about their feelings.
Making healthy lifestyle choices.
Fathers can live a healthy lifestyle and become independent so they can be the best men possible for their children. Healing themselves is very important for their children. It sets a good example for the children to follow.
Think about what your children need from you. This will help you to figure out what you need to do for your children and who you need to be as a father to your children. What roles do you take?