The family is the foundation of Dominican society. The actions of the state, the church and private institutions are oriented towards it. We all have a family, whether through blood, emotional or legal ties. Members of a family live together share affinities. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is the natural, universal and fundamental element of society. The family has the right to receive protection from society and the State. But how is the Dominican family today?
According to the latest National Population and Housing Census, there are 2,677,596 families divided into five types of households: nuclear, one-person, extended, compound and without a nucleus.
In our country the nuclear type predominates, composed of a married couple or couple and their children, or one of the heads of household and their children, it is the one that still predominates in the Dominican territory.
According to the Demographic and Health Survey in the Dominican Republic (ENDESA), between 2007 and 2013 the size of families has decreased, while the National Survey of Multiple Purpose Households (ENHOGAR) highlights that more than 65% of households are headed by men, as the father of the family. This for reasons of coexistence with his wife or in a free union, which is what is most abundant or because the mothers have migrated and the children have been left in the care of the father.
These numbers call to look at families and the important role that the father must play in it. Parents are an important part in the development of children, and can have the same positive or negative influence as the mother on their development depending on how much they are involved in their upbringing. For this reason, parents must develop a more active fatherhood in the lives of their children, help them with their homework, take an interest and ask them about their day, play and share with the children and show them affection with hugs, kisses and expressions of affection verbal and not Verbally, these are some of the things that show the child a real interest on the part of his or her father or father figure that will directly influence the child’s social-emotional development.
Children whose parents are actively involved in their upbringing: they cope better with life’s setbacks, have better self-esteem and better social skills, since they are people who enjoy better health. Children, it is proven, imitate 90% of what their parents do and 10% of what they say, so that children who enjoy the affectionate and loving closeness of the father will be just as affectionate with their sons and daughters when They are adults, and what not to say about school performance and social development of children who have their father actively at home.
If 65% of our society is dominated by households with a paternal presence, what is happening? Are they parents at home or males who expect their children to be educated without guidance, for example, quality time rather than content and pleasures to fill the void of the active presence they should have in their lives?
I have been worried for a long time because I see mothers alone in schools, in meetings, in children’s activities. As if the main task of the father is to be a provider. But we know that the main task of the father is to be a guide, an example, with eyes that see, ears that listen, a nose that sniffs out danger and puts his child in protection. To be the head of the family is to use all the organs that are in the head in the upbringing of the child and mainly speaking, expressing oneself, saying words of affirmation and appreciation that the children from the father need so much for their safety and self-esteem. As Pope Francis tells us: “We must vindicate that figure of the father.” It cannot be absent as in earlier times.
Today, due to the incorporation of women into the world of work, these profiles have changed so much that, in some households, it is the parents who take care of the children because the wife, due to her academic preparation and job opportunities, has less time to spend. take care of these tasks and men do it without complexes and with confidence applying themselves in a more affective way, resulting in much more fulfilling and satisfying father-son relationships.
Currently, fathers and mothers in order to carry out this shared education must complement each other, organizing themselves so as not to overload the responsibility on just one. Share the roles by mutual agreement according to the circumstances of each moment, according to the dynamics of each couple, according to their possibilities and the preferences of each one and, taking care not to exclude or make differences that could exclude one of the parents so that if one is missing due to their social or professional responsibilities, the children are not deprived of their educational, material and emotional needs.
When fathers relieve mothers of the exclusivity of domestic work and child-rearing, marital relations improve, and mothers experience less stress, achieving greater complicity among themselves, mutual understanding that results in a more solidary and solid coexistence. for the entire family. The best gift we can give our children is the loving display of affection between their parents.
The observatory ‘The Family Watch Foundation’ – International Institute for Family Studies and a member with General Consultative Status in the United Nations Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) – in its 2019 report reveals figures that I want to share with you and that are similar to the reality of the Dominican Republic: 29.7% of children without a father and 21.5% of children of divorced parents who live only with their mother have repeated at least one course, compared to 11.6% of those who live with their biological father and mother. They also have less access to university.
Another study of 156 victims of sexual abuse revealed that the majority came from fatherless families. Most of the children who experience lack of affection on the part of the father suffer from identity in the sexual and emotional sphere, developing anxiety and depression. 80% of adolescents in psychiatric hospitals came from families with a disjointed nucleus. Likewise, 43% of the boys in prison grew up in single-parent homes. 72% of young people who have committed murder and 60% of those who committed rape grew up without a father. 63% of youth suicides are among fatherless youth. 90% of the children who leave home are from families without parents. 85% of children with conduct disorders come from fatherless families. 80% of violent rapes were carried out by young people with absent parents and that is 71% of high school dropouts. 75% of youth in detox homes do not know their father. 70% of young inmates in reformatories grew up with an absent father. The statistics are really revealing.
That is why our Pope Francis says: “The classic father, the economic and material support of the family, no longer serves us in a time of growing diversity in the family model.” The man and the father of the family have to get involved and together with his wife be the first transmitters of the children’s faith. Currently, the absence of the father figure is the cause of most social problems such as violence, teenage pregnancy, among others. And worse still, the fathers are at home, but they do not exercise co-responsibility in the upbringing of the children, leaving this duty to the mothers.
In our country, last May, a multidisciplinary Family Cabinet was integrated by the Government and attached to the Presidency. Its current coordinator, Pastor Dio Astacio, said: “The Government proposed to center the family as the axis of the development of programs aimed at the well-being of the nation and as a central part of the government plan… Last month I heard the story of a urban music performer with behaviors that have been repudiated by a large part of society and who is very influential for our young people. I was able to verify the features of a young woman who was deprived of an active and functional father figure in her upbringing. The whole of society is responsible for this problem.
Here are some proposals to make the father figure more important in the public and private sectors:
1) give encouragement and recognition to companies that support and value the father figure within the home;
2) to revalue paternity since it is a right and a duty of the father to accompany in the upbringing of the child, whether or not they live with their mother;
3) promote circumstances that favor a good parent-child coexistence for their psycho-emotional development, socioeconomic stability between the parents so that the children enjoy good family coexistence that generates well-being and happiness for the child.
Non-transferable parental fees and parental leave are spreading in EU countries and we hope it gets here. Paternity leave only has two days for those who work in private companies and seven days for public sector employees. Last May, a bill was introduced in the Senate of the Dominican Republic that seeks to modify this law that would grant twenty days for the father to accompany his newborn child and support the dynamics of the home due to the arrival of the new member with 100 % of remuneration. In Spain, it is hoped that by 2024 paternity leave will be the same as maternity leave, allowing parents to assume this role and responsibility within the family.
It should be noted that some state institutions in our country already grant up to 30 days for paternity leave within their regulations. This is because the paternal presence is more and more necessary and irreplaceable during the gestation, birth and upbringing of children.
In this Jubilee Year of Saint Joseph the paternal figure of Saint Joseph has been highlighted with the Apostolic Letter ‘Patris Corde’, Heart of the Father, Pope Francis has dedicated from December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021 to look , reflect and imitate the characteristics of the father of Saint Joseph, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary since Pope Pius IX declared him Patron of the Universal Church.
For the family this is and will be a great year, since we are also celebrating the fifth anniversary of the apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris Leatitia’ calling for a Year of the Family, and our local Church has opened a whole ‘Altagraciano Jubilee Year’ to celebrate the Centennial of the Canonical Coronation of the Image of Our Lady of Altagracia. La Altagracia is the representation of the Holy Family, it is the only Marian invocation that has the figure of Saint Joseph, guarding, illuminating, with an eye on his wife and the Child. She was with Mary that night and received the Child in her arms, whom she laid down in the manger so that all creatures, animals, shepherds, kings would adore him …
The doors of grace and mercy are already open in the cathedrals, sanctuaries and temples destined to receive all the pilgrims who in this Jubilee Year come in search of reconciliation, consolation and welcome in this time of pandemic that has plagued humanity . Before the pandemic the family was facing great challenges and now many of them have worsened, but we trust that through the intercession of Our Lady of Altagracia we will soon be free from the pandemic and we will cultivate in our country a reunion of the Dominican people with the High grace.
We will invigorate love and faith, and we will achieve a better family and national coexistence and achieve a greater appreciation of the family and its leading role in society.
Saint Joseph, pray for us! Virgin of Altagracia, pray for us!
The author is Kirsis De los Santos from Checo
Diploma in Marriage and Family Sciences
Vice President Happy Marriage Movement