The Role of Fathers in Balkan Families

We often overlook this topic, even though it’s very important as it affects the entire family structure, children’s development, and their relationship with themselves and the world around them. The image of a Balkan father is simple – a man whose primary task is to earn enough money for the family.

A man who works, and when he comes home tired, he needs peace and quiet. Research shows that modern fathers spend less than one hour a day with their children on average. The syndrome of the absent father is becoming more common and prevalent, even as society progresses and evolves. Some things stubbornly remain the same, even though they harm us.

When we talk about absent fathers, we don’t mean fathers who have passed away and are unable to be with their children. We’re talking about fathers who are alive and healthy but haven’t managed to find their role in family dynamics, or are running away from it. According to psychotherapist Dr. Zoran Milivojevic, many fathers today behave like mothers – male mothers.

That is, there are more and more fathers who offer only love, and mothers who are forced to take on the traditionally male role of disciplining the child. When the father only loves, and the mother is the one who educates, keeps the family together, and does everything else in the house, the child has a male mother and a female father. When a child is born, mothers primarily care for the baby, then comes the time when the child grows a bit and the care can and should be shared by both parents.

The mistake occurs right at the beginning when the father is, without ill intent, deprived of the right to participate, and the mother takes everything upon herself. At one point, the care about homework, field trips, crushes, temperature, cough, physical education equipment, essays, reports, training, clean laundry, ironing, lunch, pets, and healthy snacks is led by the mother… The result is a disrupted family dynamic, an overwhelmed mother, a lost father, and children who don’t get a ‘healthy’ picture of how a family should function.

How does a father’s absence affect children?

Children whose fathers are present and involved in upbringing are better at managing emotions, more easily withstand frustration and stress, and are more successful in school. Children whose fathers were not involved lack self-confidence, often get into conflicts, struggle to establish good relationships with their surroundings, are prone to aggression and outbursts of anger, and it happens that they develop addiction problems as well.

When fathers are absent, according to Allen and Daly’s report, “boys are on average more unhappy, sad, depressed, dependent, and hyperactive. Girls more often become overly dependent and have emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.”

The way a father behaves with his child will influence what the child seeks from other people.

Friends, lovers, and spouses will be chosen based on how the child understood the meaning of the relationship with the father. The patterns the father sets in relationships with his children dictate the kinds of relationships the children will have with people in their surroundings.

If the father is kind and gentle, his daughter will look for these qualities in potential partners. The relationship with the father dictates how boys will behave towards other people – that is, a boy’s character is modeled based on his father’s character.

Clearly, a father must be involved in the upbringing and life of the child. As a society, we must normalize playing with dad, confiding in dad, learning with dad, and even gentle dad, present dad, engaged dad, dad who knows how to comfort, dad who isn’t afraid of emotions… Because anyone can be a father, but being a dad is a much more special and important role.

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