EDITORIAL – On Father’s Day: Three cheers for Cayman’s dads

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’”
– American baseball player Harmon Killebrew

Happy Father’s Day to Cayman’s dads, and to the grandpas, uncles and other ‘father figures’ who are such important influences on children’s lives.

It’s a tough job, and one that has gotten more complex as times and families have changed.

For generations, it was understood that a father’s biggest job was to provide for his family; to go to work and bring home a paycheck – even if that meant leaving the comforts of home. That was certainly true in years past in the Cayman Islands, when many fathers went to sea.

Many of Cayman’s fathers still clock long hours or travel for business in order to put food on the family table. Other fathers have come to our islands to earn money to send home to families hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Fathers’ traditional role as breadwinner has been vital to many families’ survival (let alone their comfort and security). But fatherhood has always been much more nuanced than that.

Today’s fathers are embracing their roles in ways their grandfathers may never have imagined – getting to know their children, getting involved with their lives, thoughts and feelings in ways that are rewarding for parent and child, alike.

In fact, it is only within the last generation or two that researchers really have taken a serious look at fathers’ influence on a child’s development, as was pointed out in a recent BBC Future article (“The secrets of being a good father”). What they’ve found should come as no surprise.

Children with active, caring fathers tend to do better in school, be more well-behaved and tend to have better relationships with others. The positive effects start when they are infants, and continue all through life. Even in single-parent households, dads’ continued involvement plays a crucial role in raising healthy, happy kids.

It is nice to see science finally catching up to what we all know intuitively: Fathers matter. In every kind of family and household structure.

As author H. Jackson Brown wrote, “Life doesn’t come with an instruction book – that’s why we have fathers.”

Here’s to them.