It bothers me that we have turned parenting into mothering, that is, into a one-woman affair. We have made it look like the emotional and personal needs of children should only be met by their mothers. This is so wrong and it encourages men to be absent and unavailable for their children. Sadly, many women who didn’t have present fathers have gotten so used to this one-sided type of parenting that they see it as normal. Hence, you see them being overly grateful/gushing about every little thing their husbands do for their children. What do I mean? In a group I belong to, someone threw a question to the floor for everyone to air their opinions. The poster asked: if your husband bathes your kids on a Sunday, how would you feel? A good number of women said they would be so grateful. They admitted they would be surprised so they would shower him with praises. They sounded like their husbands were doing them a huge favour. It struck me as odd because that is not how things are supposed to be. All I kept wondering was: Don’t the kids belong to their fathers too? If fathers have the kids too then why do we praise them like they have done the impossible when they do the barest minimum every responsible father should do? I even see posts on social media on some women praising their husbands for doing the barest minimum and I just can’t fathom it. It is a different thing if they come from a place of appreciation or words of affirmation but most times they come from a place of he has done something unusual. There are family dynamics that I understand so it might not necessarily be in the context of bathing for the kids but then more fathers should be hands-on in the lives of their kids.
Fatherhood is beyond paying bills. Fatherhood is beyond being the person who makes the most money in the family. Fatherhood is beyond being a protector or the pillar of strength. Being a father is as much a verb as being a mother is. Hence, fatherhood is also parenting. Responsible Parenting is and should be a joint effort not something we leave for one partner or party of the marital relationship. Why would you have children if you have no plans to connect with them and be directly involved in everything about them? It shouldn’t be so! You should know your children almost as well as you know yourself. You should talk with them, care for them, inspire them. You should bond with them over even the silliest of things like jokes or board games. You should be their confidant and let them know you are rooting for them. You should show them in word and in deed that they can always depend on you to do anything (within reason) for them.
Fathers are unsung heroes. A lot of kids and people in society tend to appreciate and celebrate mothers more. Sometimes, I know it is because many fathers seem distant. They are always on the go trying to make sure everyone is okay – in good health, well-fed and clothed. But Fathers are our anchors. It is they who weather the storms for us. They are rocks we lean on and it is they who push us to become the best version of ourselves. I would like everyone to appreciate their fathers more. Talk about all the sacrifices they make and all the good they do. Some of you have really good fathers. Some of them were there, not just by their monetary contributions but also emotionally and otherwise too. Some of them didn’t really know how to connect with you but you know that they loved you. They would have moved mountains for you if it would make you become a better person in society. I think their deeds are worth celebrating. People should applaud and herald their goodness more often. Talk about their sacrifices and all they have done.
I would like potential fathers to step up their game. If your father was not there for you, now is the time to choose to change that narrative. Decide to be a present father to your kids. Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Don’t let your children feel the way you felt growing up. Rather, put an end to this vicious cycle because your kids deserve better! You deserve to show them the kind of love and care you never experienced with your father. Also, as you choose to be a better man, it will help inspire young boys around. Lots of people complain that there is little being done about boy advocacy. But I believe that you hold the key to making young boys grow into responsible men. Because through you, they will understand how important fatherhood is.
Lastly, I’m grateful to my father for the kind of dad he was and still is to us. Because of the way he was present, I was able to understand that parenting is not a one-woman show. I am really grateful that I can look back at my life and see him clearly in every corner and every phase.
To My Dad, To Fathers and Potential Fathers out there, I raise my glass and say,
Happy Father’s Day to you!!!!!!!!!