“I woke up to a busy weekend. It was my son’s monthly class day. I have a class to teach and I had my father to take to hospital for usual check-ups. While I searched for the car keys, to hit the road with my errands, my son called out;
“Mummy, do not forget it is my class day today. Teacher said our parents must come and see how we are progressing with our studies,” he said.
I quickly cut him short by telling him that it was going to be a long day for me and daddy (who was then enjoying his breakfast) would go with him at school. The boy chipped in quickly to clarify.
“You see mummy, at school, the teacher said we should take the people who pay our fees and who provide our school needs. Daddy always says he does not have money so I guess it is you who does it and so should be the one to go,” he stated rather firmly.
I wanted the ground to open and swallow me. I quickly sensed the embarrassment that this boy’s daddy was going through. I told my son that daddy gives me money to provide all that and that is why he never has money. I convinced him to go with daddy to school, and he finally gave in.
Later in the year, when we had serious disagreements with my husband, this was one of the issues that he paraded; that I told his children that he does not pay school fees. Attempts to ask him to reflect on his fatherhood roles did not help. He was not convinced that children listen and observe. I was judged and sentenced. Up to date, he thinks I had such a discussion with his son.
So fathers out there, are you aware that you have roles to play in your children’s lives? Are you aware that you are supposed to provide both physical and psychological support to your children? Time came when my children would disappear to the bedroom when their father came home. He had not been violent to them in any way, but the bond was simply not there.
Interestingly though, sometimes modern society fails to fully recognise the father’s role in parenting and stereotypically limits it to providing financial support.
One time, my husband even picked a fight with me because he had gone to his son’s school and the teachers had asked why the mother of the boy is “so lost”. According to him, I had made him seem like a woman as this was purely a woman’s role. He did not see the opportunity he had to bond with his son. He probably had never heard of the old saying that “one father is more than a hundred school masters”.
This is true and is borne out by scientific research. Studies have found that infants with highly involved fathers, as measured by the amount of interaction, are more cognitively competent at six months and score higher on the Bayley scales of infant development, which are a standard series of measurements used to assess children aged 0 to 3. Researchers also found that such infants had a higher IQ by age three.
As a young mother, I tried to be a supermom. Daddy was busy looking for money and I had this strong desire not to stress him by attending to all the children’s errands. I was making a mistake. My son later asked why other fathers are seen with their children yet mine were always with their mom.
As I strive to live with the accusations from my husband, I cannot help but tip fathers out there to actually be fathers. The word “father” is a doing word. It does not matter how much money you give your wife to spend on your children. It does not matter how hard you work to secure their future. It does not matter the kind of meals you can afford for your children. What matters is your time and hands on involvement in the affairs of your children. Unless you do that, you will continue to fight your wife for poisoning you in front of your children.”
Children and dads
Children who spend large amounts of time with their fathers have higher IQs, according to a new study. Strong fatherly involvement in their early life can also improve a child’s future career prospects, the research shows. Academics at the University of Newcastle, who carried out the study, also found that men tended to pay more attention to their sons than their daughters.