Fathers across borders
The role of Fathers for Pasifika is often talked about in conflicting tones; firm authoritarian versus hard working money earner, strict versus absent.
However, in recent times, more attention has been focussed towards fathers, particularly from Pasifika fathers themselves. For example, I’m a member of an online community of fathers, which numbers in the tens of thousands, we share our stories, advice and encourage each others’ journey to be a better father.
Strong Fathers, Strong families, Strong communities was the tag line for the father’s conference I spoke at in Cairns last month. I was joined by speakers such as Australian heavyweight boxing champion Alex “Lionheart” Leapai, NRL player Joe Galuvao and Logan City Councillor Steve Swensen.
The conference focused on men who were challenged and empowered to live their lives as better fathers to their children.
Hosted by South Auckland-born and raised pastor, Henry Leafa, each speaker shared their own journey of fatherhood – with some key messages being life-changing for many. Participants also discussed strategies they can use to applying the gems that the speakers had shared.
Steve’s key messages included the role and expectations we often have of fathers – while noting that ‘there is no such thing as a perfect father’, Steve reinforced the importance of relationships:
understanding the currency of love of your chidren – their love language.”
Joe Galuvao touched on integrity and honesty:
You can’t give what you don’t have.”
Joe also shared the question he believed sons and daughters ask their fathers:
- “Dad do you love me? Am I worth fighting for?”
- “Dad can I do it? Are you proud of me?”
Alex Leapai’s key message was about fathers investing into their families:
taking care of the little problems now ensures they don’t become big problems in the future!”
Finally, my own message captured all these great messages, with a particular emphasis on nurturing the va between father and child:
communicating with your children at their level in a way that emphasises the positive, and leaves them affirmed has always been how I see and act with my children. Personally, tell them you love them, and that you are proud of them. And when they talk to you, be an active listener – and give them your full attention!”
Overall, this year’s conference gave Pasifika fathers a wonderful opportunity to listen to powerful, honest messages from their peers, support them, connect with other fathers, share struggles and make strong statements of change, dedication to God and fatherhood!
Can’t wait for next year!