By Maria Paula González Avila (undergraduate Business Management student)
Families in Colombia have followed a model where the father is the one in charge of earning money to sustain the family, while the mother needs to be at home, making food and raising children. In this patriarchal society men cheat on their wives, while they’ve been doing their jobs at home. It was difficult for them to be separated from the source of their economic resources. However, with globalization and modernity, mothers have managed to study and find a job. Thus, they could finally get divorced and with this, it suddenly became common for mothers to raise their children alone.
If you ask a Colombian about this situation, he might have been raised by his mother or at least, he might know someone who has been raised mostly by his or her mom. The right to raise children has been reserved only for mothers, while it has been removed for fathers. In court, if a girl decides to be with her dad instead of her mom, people judge and think that the father forced her. However, when she decides to be with her mom instead of her dad, it is seen as something good. Even if there’s mutual agreement about custody, Colombian law always protects and gives privileges to mothers.
Fathers can do more than provide money. They can teach calmness to children, as well as clear thoughts and wise actions that characterize most fathers, in my experience. For example, I’ve been raised by my father, and I’ve noticed differences between me and “normal” girls of my age: I don’t add as much drama to my life as others do. I can easily forget about past problematic situations with someone, so I move on and I focus my attention on living in the present. I believe this is the result of having a strong male influence in my life, although I know not all men have these characteristics. These are just a few of the “characteristics of men” that I have, and it’s similar with the other girls I’ve met who have been raised by their single father too. Even if it’s not scientifically proven, I think it has a lot to do with the way we’ve been raised.
Colombians tend to say that I’m a good girl and such a good daughter. However, they tend to judge me when I tell them about my situation. They always ask about my mom, and they can’t figure out how I could choose my dad instead of her, because for them, as members of patriarchal society, mothers are the ones supposed to raise children. If a mother that can go through this world with her strength and courage can raise a child and teach him or her how to do that, then fathers can teach a child how to stay calm in moments when it’s necessary, and teach him or her how to improve their protective instinct. I’m neither suggesting that moms don’t play their part, nor that their jobs as single mothers can’t be valued. No. I’m saying that single fathers’ work should be valued too, because it’s important enough to deserve it.