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.

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