Importance of being a father

FATHERS. Love them or hate them, they are an important part of a child's life and one cannot deny that the presence or absence of a father in a child's life has a profound effect on society.

FATHERS. Love them or hate them, they are an important part of a child's life and one cannot deny that the presence or absence of a father in a child's life has a profound effect on society.

A real man would rather succeed as a father than as a businessman.

So, what determines a father's success?

He is responsible. He provides for his family. He does not deliberately leave the needs of his family unattended . He is faithful, respectful and honourable and uses his heart, not his fists to express.

A real man is driven by love and a deep passion for his children's wellbeing, not by the latest posh car.

He uses his family's opinion, not his assets to determine his net worth. A real man uses his children's happiness to determine his happiness.

But emphasis has been placed on "careered" men with large reserves of wealth. While such aspirations are not entirely wrong, the question that needs to be asked is: "At what cost does a man's material successes come?"

As much as it is imperative for a man to provide for his family, as much as his business success is highly honourable and perhaps a great personal achievement, a real man must remember that to the child that is irrelevant. To a child, a father is first a father and a provider. All other material things are secondary.

To a child, a real man's success is as a father first and foremost, and he remains honourable for as long as his achievement is marked by the value a man adds to the child's life.

A father's task is hard. Many fail because they do the job with their hearts closed. They focus on having enough life insurance and money to buy their children whatever they want. They focus on giving their children things.

The key to real fatherhood and being a real man is giving a child something that will last forever, which is establishing a strong emotional connection.

A street sweeper who has a strong emotional bond with his child is more successful than a stockbroker who has no relationship with his children.

That is when a real man has truly succeeded at real fatherhood. It will not need some form of accreditation. At that point, both father and child will know that what they have cannot be taken away, and the father will experience the full measure of his child's requited love, adoration, caring and warmth.

The greatest crisis facing our world today is not the global credit crunch. It is not swine flu. It is not the HIV-Aids pandemic. It is the lack of real fatherhood.

Success in fatherhood starts with these magical words: "I love you, my child!" and the child saying: "I love you too, dear daddy!"

This is an edited version of Loveline Nwadeyi's speech. The Grade 12 pupil from Eastern Cape came third in the 2008 yearly Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards.

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