A few weeks have passed since Jeff Koinange interviewed three amazing girls with great talents. The girls were really jovial and enthusiastic. Until Jeff Koinange brought forth the question of their fathers. And the mood changed to somber. The girls even cried trying to explain why they were not talking about their absentee fathers.
Apparently, all the girls had been raised by their mothers. The dad’s had missed out on their growth and their journey to fame. This prompts the question; where are their fathers?
What makes absentee fathers?
Active involvement in a child’s growth means; having presence and a hands on experience through all stages of your child’s upbringing. This isn’t the case in many families. Mothers are often the more active parent.
Girls, for example, enter into relationships with men who have the similar or close enough characteristics as their fathers
A father is as essentially important to the healthy development of a child as is the mother. Unfortunately, some fathers tend to exclude themselves from active involvement in their child’s growth because:
Absentee fathers #1: Fathers are the breadwinners
In this modern age, men are still perceived as the main breadwinners in many families. Of which they should be. But while they are at it, they must ensure that their kids have a bit of their time. Some work away from their families. Others are privileged to work closer.
But, even those closer to home often choose to keep the company of peers rather than their children’s. Those who stay at home prefer burying themselves in the newspaper or watch news or football on television. They yell to ‘Mama Nani’ to silence Nani because he/she is making noise and disrupting him.
They consider financial contribution sufficient involvement. Fatherhood is much more than financial contribution. All fathers and fathers-to- be should keep this in mind.
Absentee fathers #2: Cultural expectation of fatherhood
Society expects mothers to act as the active parent in child care. It views the infancy stage as a time for mother and child, and most overlook the father’s absence. Many men therefore shy away from active child care.The father only gets involved when the children are in their teen years. They do so especially for teen boys because boys are expected to emulate their fathers.
Culture should not limit you from performing your fatherly duties. Be different. Bring up your child the way you’d have liked your father to bring you up.
Absentee fathers #3: Irresponsible behavior
The phrase ‘I’m pregnant’ tends to freak out a certain caliber of men. A large number end up behaving irresponsibly by abandoning their children. For some it may be because they are genuinely not ready due to age and are still in school. Others, because of separation from the mother. But others just don’t care.
Whatever the case, fathers should find a way to remain active in their children’s lives. Keep in mind that the child is an innocent participant.
How to involve absentee fathers
Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see a father pushing a pram or carrying the baby in public. It’s considered a ‘cool thing’ by the modern-day generation. However, society should regard it as normal (rather than cool); for a father to take the baby to the clinic. Additionally, fathers can:
Change tip #1: Take paternity leave
More companies are recognizing the need for paternity leave. They are slowly but surely coming to terms with the idea of fathers being present for their children’s early life on earth.
If your employer offers paternity leave, take it. As have plenty of men, including Mark Zuckerberg took two months paternity leave for both of his sons. Why not you?
Change tip #2: Take time off from buddies
Reduce the time you spent with your buddies to create more time with the kids. This is especially if those buddies take more of your time.
Being with your kids is beneficial for you. You learn more about their behavior. And you are able to correct them when they are still young. As kids grow older, it becomes harder and harder to correct them. And more so if they never felt your presence when they were young.
Change tip #3: Take meals with their children
Make it a habit to take meals with your children. Meals bring people together. Families that eat together stay together. That’s just my saying.
Meal times are when you can find the whole family together. It therefore creates an open forum for discussion. And the members can open up about their day’s activities, worries and fears. It’s at these times that you can learn about your kids even better.
Change tip #4: Holiday with their children
Make plans to go on a holiday with your children. This is also possible for those who have baby mamas. Apart from treating the kids, this will also draw you closer to them.
Change tip #5: Help with homework
Doing homework with your children enables you to learn their strengths and weaknesses. You can know if your child is good in Mathematics or English. It also helps you to direct them in the career path you feel they are more suited for. For example if your child is good in writing composition, you can encourage them to write more. Whenever possible, help your children with their homework.
Change tip #6: Give your wife a holiday
Yes, it’s good at times to give the woman of the house time off. Offer to take care of the children once in a while so she can have a girl’s time out. Or do whatever it is mothers do on their days off.
You can also take turns with your wife or ‘baby mama’ minding the kids. Or better still, give her a holiday and care for the children while she sunbathes in a beach somewhere.
Fatherhood isn’t only about connection by blood, marriage or adoption. It’s more about bringing up the child into adulthood by being present financially, physically and emotionally. As a father, participate in all the activities of your child’s growth. Children look up to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They look up to them to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children always want to make their fathers proud and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength.
Every kid needs their father
A father influences what a child is inside and how the child relates to other people. Girls, for example, enter into relationships with men who have the similar or close enough characteristics as their fathers. That is if the father had a strong positive impact in her growth.
Boys on the other hand model themselves after their fathers’ character. In the absence of the fathers’, the boys will look up to other male figures to set the rule for their behavior and character formation. The girls however, may fall victims of abusive relationships because they lacked a guideline on how a man should treat them.
Studies have shown that fathers who are affectionate and supportive greatly influence their children’s cognitive and social development. This instills an overall sense of well-being. Hence, they show more self-confidence when interacting with others. Engaged fatherhood ensures that the girls are empowered. And the boys grow to be gender-sensitive. As a mother, as much as your child is “doing well” and is fully catered for; work on involving the father in your child’s growth.
It’s important to have a close connection with your children when they are young. The instant sombreness of Jeff Koinange’s guests showed as much. Remember when they become adults, they will have to take care of you. How you care for them now will form the basis of how they take care of you the future.