Father’s Day is just around the corner and if you are like me, you can always use a little reminder to plan ahead. I don’t mean that you should be out shopping for cards, ties or barbecue equipment (although that’s not necessarily a bad idea!) or that you should, if you are a father, be making the list of things you truly want for your Father’s Day celebration (also not a bad idea). No, I mean that all of us — those who are fathers, those who hope to be fathers, those who have fathers and those who are in relationships with fathers — should be having some conversations about what constitutes a good father.
What does a good father look like? What does he do, and not do, that teaches his child every day what it means to be a man and a father? In these pages you regularly hear from columnists who are working to be good fathers and who graciously share their wisdom with Centre Daily Times readers in a column much like this one.
They are excellent columns, full of good advice and helpful tips on fathering. But as someone who regularly witnesses the aftereffects of bad or nonexistent fathering, my perspective is a bit different. While there are many things that make a good father, from my vantage point one of the fundamental elements is how a father treats the mother of his children, and more fundamentally, how he treats all the women in his life.
While there are certainly multiple types of heinous violence in this world, the statistics of violence against women and girls are staggering: 1 in 3 women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence); more than 4 million women are raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year (Safe Horizon); three women are killed every day by an intimate partner (CNN). Sadly, most (but not all) of these acts of violence against women are perpetrated by men, many of them fathers.
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To be clear, most men treat their wives and partners with respect and would never physically or sexually assault them. However, the effect of the small number of men who do disrespect women and who use violence against them has an effect far greater than the numbers — and can span generations.
So what can a good father do to address violence against women, to work toward a world where his partner or sister or daughter is not victimized by it? A place to start is to take the Father’s Day Pledge, sponsored by the PA Says No More campaign. Thousands of men across Pennsylvania, including players and coaches from both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies, have signed the pledge, which simply says:
I will work to end gender violence and pledge to ...
▪ Not use violence in any form in my relationships.
▪ Speak up if another man is abusing his partner or is disrespectful or abusive to women and girls. I will not remain silent.
▪ Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence.
▪ Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. I will lead by example.
Father’s Day is the perfect time to talk about what healthy relationships between men and women, men and children, and men and other men should look like. Go to www.pasaysno more.com and take the pledge. But more importantly, live the pledge — for yourself, for your partner, for your sons and daughters.
Anne K. Ard is the executive director of the Centre County Women’s Resource Center. Contact her at 238-7066 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.