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Why fathers are neglected in old age A must read for all fathers! (and mothers too!) In the lifetime of most Nigerian families (but is now universally applicable), there are 3 dispensations of power: 1) The first 25 years in the life of the family (father, mother, children) where power indisputably rests with the father. 2) After the kids have grown and started working and the power shifts to the mother. 3) When the kids move out of the family house or start their own families and the power moves to the children. The 1st dispensation Total dominance of the father. He is the lion of the tribe of his house. The boss. During this dispensation, the father rules with an iron fist. He barks orders & determines what does or does not happen. The father often metes out corporal punishment to the recalcitrant children. They grow to fear him more than they love him. The father is the provider for the family & everyone is aware of that fact with all resultant consequences. The 2nd dispensation The children have finished school and have started working. Power now shifts to the mother. When the children start earning their own money, for some reason, it’s their mothers they decide to look after. They are closer to her. While the father was in charge, he was busy with the business of providing. He didn’t have much time to be a friend to the children. They spent more time with their mum and invariably grew closer to her. They also see their mum as co-victims of the father’s tyranny. The mother takes centre stage at this point. She is the first to know what’s happening with the children & she has advantage. Should any of the daughters give birth, she is the one that goes for babysitting and the children spoil her with gifts. At this stage, the father is wishing for some bond with the children like they have with their mother but that boat has sailed. Because the mother doesn’t rely much on the father for her needs at this stage, she is less likely to tolerate his lordship. The 3rd & last dispensation Power has shifted to the children. They are self-sufficient, live on their own & have own families. More often than not, whenever there is a quarrel between father & mother, the children side the mother. Years of joint-victimhood at play. Children have been known to come to the house to warn their father not to ‘disturb’ their mother. Woe to the father if his finances are precarious at this stage. This causes most men to fall ill & develop different complications. By this time the forces are arrayed against you. Stroke, hypertension, high-blood pressure. The man has a large family but no relationship with them in later life. A deeply troubling thought. Lesson: Moral, dear men, while the power lies with us, let us wield it with posterity in mind. It won’t be with us forever. 1) With the way you are treating your wife now, how will she treat you when power shifts to her? 2) What relationship do you have with your family? Loving dad or despotic, tyrannical provider? 3) Remember, the children always side with their mother. Aim to do enough to at least get a fair hearing in future moments of family strife. 4) Invest wisely for the future so that you won’t have to beg to be taken care of if despite your best efforts, you find yourself alone. Advice to children: It is not good to abandon your father who denied himself to get you prepared for life & who sacrificially sowed to make you who you are. Honour both your parents and take good care of them in their old age. That is how you too will sow into your future. Don’t let neglecting your father (or mother) be a curse on you into your future. Advice to mothers: Don’t incite your children against their father. Parenthood is not easy despite its joys. May Allah Ta’ala help each and every one of us and grant us the correct understanding. Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) Council of Muslim Theologians