My View Column
The Santa Fe New Mexican
June 17, 2001 (Father's Day)
Picture (mugshot) included in article.
Page F-9 (Outlook section- Perspective page)
On Dad's Day, some thoughts on his role.
Recently, I became a father for the first time.
From being a "twinkle in my eye," to entering this new
world, my son Nicholas has undergone remarkable
transformations and growth in just under a year - a
picosecond in the time scale of our universe. My
experience as a new father has been (and continues to
be) priceless. It definitely alters one's priorities.
Each day is a new segment of our journey together as
a family - father, mother, and son.
As a physicist, it is difficult for me to
comprehend the miracle of life from simply natural
laws - that despite all of the variables that can
cause problems in pregnancies, so many normal, healthy
children are born every day (something that we
shouldn't take for granted).
As a father, I hope that I can participate,
contribute and assist in Nicholas' development in
every possible way.
Biologically, morally, socially and
intellectually, fathers have much to offer their
children in the spirit of guidance, care and education
that is extremely difficult to replace.
Our society, however, has little encouraged or
even really acknowledged the necessity and importance
of fathers' contributions in the rearing of their
children - except as primary financial providers.
Fathers can and should be part of the entire
process that begins at conception, continues on nine
months later with birth and never really ceases as
they watch their children grow into adulthood.
When I was born, my father snuck into the
delivery room, donning surgical scrubs and a mask so
he would be unrecognizable and unnoticed. He was
there to support my mother by his presence.
Fortunately, fathers are allowed into most
delivery rooms today.
At our first-rate hospital, fathers were allowed
to stay through the night with their wives and
children in private quarters.
However, our society still has a long way to go
to truly encourage fathers to feel a critical part of
the rearing process.
What is often seen as "women's work" can easily
be shared by fathers. Though most women have
maternity leave (except, of course, in much of
academia), fathers are less encouraged to take time
off (paternity leave) in the US.
According to a recent poll, at least two-thirds
Of Americans believe that fathers should take off more
than two weeks off to help rear their children.
Instead, men are expected to be the breadwinners
of the family at the expense of being good fathers.
When fathers give up and leave their wives and
children altogether, I can only wonder how much this
has to do with the alienation they might feel when
they are discouraged from bonding with their children
at early ages.
Although our society has undergone many rapid
changes in social awareness and the rights of fellow
human beings, we find throughout history - in many
cultures - that men have often taken a back seat in
the rearing of their children.
This, in my opinion, perpetuates a tragic cycle
of irresponsibility and absence that hurts the
cohesiveness of the family unit.
Nature has always intended that both human
parents contribute to the raising of their offspring,
regardless of gender.
Michael Pravica, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of
physics at New Mexico Highlands University and an
aspiring writer. He lives in Las Vegas, N.M., and
writes frequently on a variety of issues.
This page has been accessed: times.