Don’t Be The Man Who Comes To Slice The Meat On Sunday’s
Some years ago, a fantastic commercial was shown on the Dutch national television. The commercial was made in a retro style, and it showed a family sitting around a big table, decorated for supper: two little boys aged somewhere around ten years old, and at the head of the table sat the father. All look serious, but in a way something is expected to happen. Then, suddenly, the mother comes walking in the room with a big roast, and she places it in the middle of the table. As she does so, the father becomes all excited, which shows on his facial expression. As the mother sits down, the father stands up, and as the head of the family he starts to slice the meat, in order to give everyone in the family a slice of the roast.
As he does so, the camera zooms into the two boys; one of the two leans into the other one, and whispers in his ear:
Who is that man, who comes to slice the meat on Sunday’s?
This commercial was launched at a time, in which women were starting to make careers just as men, allowing men to spend more time with their families; it makes an appeal to men, to stop sacrificing every spare minute to work, and to avoid to become like a stranger in their own families. But most importantly, the commercial aimed at increasing the awareness, that the presence or absence of fathers can impact the health of the entire family, that of the father himself, that of the mother, and the overall development of the children.
According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, “Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.”* But other areas are impacted just as well, such as behavioral issues, overall health and well-being, criminality rate, sexual activity, and education.
* Source: http://www.fatherhood.org/media/consequences-of-father-absence-statistics, 14 October, 2012.
Father-absent families impact all family members; the big pressure on mothers to raise the children virtually alone might result in health issues, depression and potentially loneliness, whereas fathers might lose the connection to their children.
But children are impacted mostly by fathers, who are hardly home, regardless of their age and stage of development. Often, absent fathers result in a reduced stability at home, and a male role model. Often, this can lead to children feeling emotionally not in balance, resulting in not being able to get along with others well, having more trouble at school, higher risk of suffering emotionally, higher alcohol and drug abuse, higher risk of criminal behavior, lower education, increased risk of unemployment. Just to name a few.
Whether this commercial was able to increase the awareness of fathers to be home more is still a question. But this commercial, and other initiatives such as the National Fatherhood Initiative, and many others around the world, indicate the need for a much bigger involvement of fathers in regards to their families. Fathers who are at home more and take the time to distribute the tasks equally with their wives, may well contribute to the family’s stability and the healthy development of their children.