Foreign Policy Blogs

Fathers are the Cornerstones of Families

Fathers are the Cornerstones of Families

A father in Mali, West Africa, helps his son and daughter with their homework. Photo: Plan Canada

I came across this quote this morning, and it summed up everything one should say on a day like Father’s Day.

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty (Author Unknown).

Today, many fathers awoke to smiling children excited to give them special gifts–many handcrafted with nothing less than love–and ready to treat dad to a special day. However, for many fathers, there is no special day as they fight to provide and care for their children. In developing countries, many fathers struggle just to find a stable source of income to provide their families with the very basics–food, water, shelter, and medicine–let alone an education.

How many of you heard your father say,”when you grow up, you can be whatever you want to be?” This happiness is what all fathers wish for and what all children deserve. However, many simple dreams are shattered when children are denied an education, or when families, feeling pressured by the inability to provide adequate food and shelter, are forced to send their children to work.  For many, providing these essentials comes at a cost as they work long hours–often in dangerous and harsh conditions–to provide for their families.  The children in these families are thereby denied a solid family core and relationship with their fathers.  In my recent post, “International Day of Families,” I noted that “it is vital that family-friendly policies are enacted that support a healthy and sustainable work-family balance, in order to ensure that individuals and families are able to provide both economically and emotionally for their dependents and members.” After all, families–including fathers–are the core of our global stability as they provide the foundation for a child’s development. Fathers play a unique and crucial role in nurturing and guiding children’s development; therefore, their role must be increasingly valued by international development and aid. Similarly, all men–especially fathers–must be a central part of the battle for education as well as the struggle against child labor and gender discrimination. Thankfully, many men in developing countries are increasingly rejecting widespread cultural stereotypes of manhood and are stepping forward to challenge gender roles that compromise both their well being and the health of their families.  Fathers who challenge gender norms not only have a positive impact on their family, but also on their entire community.

Fatherhood is one of the most important and undervalued jobs of all, and, today, we thank all those who gave themselves up selflessly each day to provide for their children.  For all fathers–rich or poor–may you see the wealth and meaning of your life in the eyes of your children today. May you know that the love, humility, and wisdom that you bestow upon your child each day is truly the greatest gift you will ever give them.

Happy Father’s Day!



Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.

Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict