Father’s Day came and went. I spent the day at church where the congregation honored the fathers among our midst. Since my own dad was at the pulpit, I didn’t get to greet him and honor him there. In the afternoon, we just went to Jay-J’s Inasal at SM Fairview and had a good dinner!Speaking of Father’s Day, when I checked my Facebook account earlier today, I came across this shared link from my friend Roy dealing with Men who Mother. In previous years, such a concept would be unthinkable! Any person doing “womanly” chores would be called “Andres de Saya” and would lose the respect of his male peers. But with the OFW phenomenon raging wildly in the Philippines and as “female mothers” go abroad to work, fathers are left with their kids. They have to be mothers as well as fathers.Here’s an excerpt of Michael Tan’s article in the Inquirer.
In the Philippines, men talk about being breadwinners although in practice, women are taking up more and more of this burden. Men are also associated with discipline although again in practice, Filipino men can be quite nurturing, at least in terms of “entertaining” children.I drew up a list of “mothering” duties here that men tend to avoid and there’s a clear pattern: they tend to be activities that are often called “menial,” not the most exciting, yet requiring so much time and patience.The roles are often embedded in a rather complicated cultural matrix, complete with contradictions. For example, we’re always warning our women not to carry anything heavy because their uterus will fall (mahuhulog ang matris). That’s actually a medical myth, but many people will swear it’s true. Yet, notice how our women will avoid carrying a box weighing maybe 5 kilos, but will not think twice about carrying her child, who may be 15 kilos, sometimes even more….These roles are changing, mainly because more women are now in the labor force, many deployed away from home or overseas. But even here, the norms change slowly. A woman who leaves to work abroad will often entrust her children to a woman relative.
But most of the time, a mother going abroad to work will entrust her child to another woman relative (such as the grandma of the child) instead of just the dad. My sister recently went abroad to work. She left her 3-year old daughter in the care of our mother. Her husband wasn’t really responsible so no help could be expected from there.Even working mothers in the Philippines experience difficulties in dealing with their kids. Not all men are open to the concept of “male mothering”. Most still aren’t I suppose. Good thing, men’s minds are not as closed as they used to be. That’s a good start.A couple can talk about role arrangements or assignments in the home. Trust, love and open communication can really go a long way in making the family a haven of love and respect. God bless the Fathers in our midst!