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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology of the University of Navarra

Parents for a new time

Thu, 29 Aug 2019 10:05:00 +0000 Published in El Confidencial Digital

Paternity (from the Latin paternus), refers to the condition of being a father or mother. Married people who have a first child have access to paternity, but, prior to that fact, it is important that they are predisposed to it. They should turn a deaf ear to some pessimistic, frivolous and jocular comments, such as, for example: "when your first child arrives, forget about sleeping".

Being parents is not just another circumstance in life, but the answer to a vocation. Parenthood transcends the biological; whoever is co-author of a life must be responsible for that life to continue to grow both physically, spiritually and morally. This task is the essence of the family Education .

To educate is to promote the progressive autonomy of the child, allowing his or her creativity to flourish. This is opposed to the idea that educating is modeling. It is said that a child used to play habitually drawing polygons in any space in his house. One fine day his mother energetically corrected him: "Pitágoras, erase those scribbles right now and copy the lesson from the Geometry book; I'm afraid that if you continue painting that nonsense you will never be a useful man; you will only be a nobody".

The concept of parenthood is subject to sociocultural evolution. Initially, it was erroneously considered that the attention and care of children was a matter exclusively for their mothers. The role of the father (male) was more one of status (command and government) than of educator; he was limited to holding authority (which was often authoritarianism), demanding external discipline , being the breadwinner of the family and provider in material matters. This father delegated his educational responsibility to the mother.

At the end of the 20th century, the vision of parenthood (of the father and the mother) began to change with the transition from a patriarchal society to a society of "sexual equality". It was a transcendental change, since "the traditional maternal figure of family cohesion through the bonds of love has to merge with the paternal figure of authority, to obtain a paternal-maternal figure in which the father and the mother are distinguished while complementing each other, constituting an authentic spiritual unity of love, authority and morality" (Marcela Chavarría).

Fathers (boys) who managed to break with the atavistic tradition of being mere providers discovered the joy of being involved in raising their children from an early age, although it was inevitable that, being novices, they would make "cute" mistakes. For example, putting the diapers on backwards. A father who accompanied his wife to the hospital on the occasion of her first delivery was more serious. After giving birth, this dialogue arose:

"-Please, Jaime, do you want to change the child?

-That's done. Here it is.

- I didn't mean that you should exchange it for another one at conference room de cunas"....

In Spain there are still many absent fathers, those who married their work, so they only see their children when they are asleep. Children who grow up without their father's reference letter often have a sense of withdrawal and feelings of insecurity; they think that their father does not love them. For that reason they are prone to develop behavioral problems. That fact alone justifies continuing to vindicate the paternal role in the family, at least until such time as most children ask, "Dad, what's for lunch?"

Sharing the Education of the children generates a "spiritual paternity", in which the paternal vision of the father and the maternal vision of the mother unite for the good of the children, transcending their own biological realities.

A decisive factor for the equality of paternity and maternity was the progressive incorporation of married women into the world of work, together with the facilities provided by some companies to reconcile work and family. But this reconciliation is still insufficient, which explains why there are still "the children of the "llavín". Every day, when they come home from school, they open the door of an empty house with the key that their parents gave them in the morning, before leaving for work. They usually also leave them the tablet "so they don't feel alone...".

In today's sociocultural framework they are expected to act with a professional mindset. This implies a continuous training as educators. It would be incoherent for a parent to take care of the training permanent as a professional and neglect it as an educator of their children.

Conclusion: being fathers and mothers today entails sharing domestic duties and tasks, especially the Education of the children and the corresponding pedagogical training . It is a matter of promoting a progressive self-education of freedom in a time of accelerated changes and crisis of values.