The Imperfection of Fatherhood - By Jolade

“The guys who fear becoming fathers don’t understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man. The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent.” Frank Pittman

Some days back I was reflecting on random stuffs when it struck me that Sunday the 21st June is the annual Father’s Day celebration.

It got me thinking about my old man, everything he is and is not to his children, proud moments and broken dreams. I thought about my childhood, especially the early years as far back as I could recollect. The teenage years and the season of the boys, lol!

I wondered how life may have turned out if my father had done things differently for us, his children. All these thoughts were clouding my mind but I could not snap out of it. I kept asking how it could have been different. Then, it occurred to me that I could not possibly be the only one who feels and thinks this way, hence my decision to ask folks around me what their experiences were.

I decided there and then that the story would not be about my experiences, rather, I would be sharing snippets of my conversations with some amazing people around me on the subject.

These people cut across different ethnicity, age and religion from both sexes. I asked them about their relationship with their fathers and what they would have wanted in retrospect.

I wanted the men to tell me what they would do better and differently for their children and what the women would like their significant other to do better. (all names mentioned here are fictional)

Kachi, a savvy businesswoman who trades in high-end jewelry, would have wanted a father who communicated more. She described her relationship with her father as a one-way street laced with a lot of rigidity. As she grew older there was practically no relationship between them except that she bore his name.

Sadly, he passed on early, hence the situation cannot be remedied even though she wished things could be different now that she is older. However, what she wants most from her significant other is financial freedom for her and her kids to live “la vida loca” without a care in the world.

Evans runs his own financial consulting outfit in Festac Town, his father was very strict during his growing up years. He expected perfection from his children in every way with zero tolerance for errors and did not spare the rod. Evans believes that his father’s methods helped him focus as a young boy but he was socially awkward as he was not allowed to have many friends. Their relationship now that he is an adult is very respectful but the fear instilled as a young boy is yet to dissipate.

Evans will also adopt his father’s approach to raise his own children but will endeavor to balance it out with a lot of communication and affection so his children would appreciate and understand that he loves them. He is of the opinion that a man has to be strong and exert discipline to raise children with the current societal ills beleaguering our environs.

Amina is a customer service expert in a financial organization, she was her father’s favorite child and he did everything to let her know that she was the apple of his eyes. This however did not augur well with the other children who felt like they were not good enough while growing up.

This created a rift between her and her siblings stretching as far into adulthood, such that a lot of pressure is upon her to be very dutiful and responsible towards her father as her other siblings will not let cease to remind her that she is the preferred child.

Amina wants her significant other to be able to balance his love amongst their children, she wants him to be present physically, emotionally and readily hands-on in parenting. She is of the opinion money should not be the sole focus of what a man should have but that availability is very important to fatherhood.

Odion is a spare part dealer whose shop is very close to my office, he opened up that he didn’t really know his father and that was not because he was late. He struggled a lot as a young boy and did not get the best of education because of this. He believes that he would have turned out better in life if his situation was otherwise.

He promised to invest heavily in his children especially in their education so as to give them a better leverage in future.

Sandra’s father never apologized for anything, sorry cannot be found in his dictionary.

According to her, nothing much has changed now that she is all grown up, the disconnect and sense of apathy is in the way of having a solid relationship with him. She would have wanted a father who considers her feelings and places value on her opinions.

Sandra who is currently a banker wants her significant other to drop his ego and not let it stand in the way of being reasonable. She wants a man who sees her as an equal partner in everything. A man who is willing to listen and adapt as necessary.

Ola is not proud of the man his father was. Having been exposed to substance abuse at a young age he admits it is by divine will that he turned out well despite the circumstances of his early years.

Being a young pastor in training, he plans to be a prime example of what a father should represent to his own children. He is leveraging on his relationship with God and books on fatherhood to help him be a stellar dad.

More experiences were shared than I can put up here. But the stories are just as  similar, and the message crystal clear; fathers need to do better.

Some of the stories had exemplary fathers that should be applauded and emulated.

But a vast majority did not pull their weight and their children suffered for it.

We all have our stories to tell, we may have one thing or the other we would have wanted our fathers to do better. Some of us may want to salvage this unique relationship with their  fathers if possible. Rationalizing it with the fact that their fathers cant give what they never had and they experimented with a desired end that they weren’t quite clear on how to get to.

But that is all in the past! No matter what we feel are the failings of our imperfect fathers, we must move beyond the past and focus on the present. Focus on how to be better than they ever could be and to provide a stellar example for our kids.

The real questions for you as a man to ponder on are;

What type of father do I want to be?

What will my legacy to my children be?

20 father’s day from now, what will the story be?

Being a father is a call to serve, to live a life of purpose and a challenge in this day and age. You have to be:

The defender of your home.

The protector of your family.

The physical, emotional and spiritual rock.

A lifetime master

Your daughter’s first true love and her standard of what a man should be.

Your son’s first hero, his mentor, his coach, and especially his friend.

Your children’s disciplinarian in such a way that they never doubt your love for them, your dedication to them and your passion to raise them in the right way.

Their safe place of refuge when they make mistakes.

Your family’s harbor in life’s many storms.

Are you willing to take up this challenge?

I hope you picked up one or two lessons from the experiences shared.

“Regardless of the personal relationship you have with your own father, you have to aim to be better.” Kirsten Watson

Happy father’s day fellas!

Jolade is a wannabe writer who really thinks she should be a pasta chef. She is an avid day dreamer with a big mansion she resides in her head. With this one, you should expect the unexpected. She happens to like music and a great conversationalist

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8 thoughts on “The Imperfection of Fatherhood”

  1. Interesting and educative read. We all need to balance discipline and affection and do the best we can for our children.

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