May 22, 2024
anonymous man with baby on shoulders walking away

Fathers, get involved in parenting

By Abraham Gumba

Mothers usually spend a lot of time with their children, especially during the first few years of the children’s lives. This is natural, of course, from the fact that from birth, the infant usually feeds directly from the mother, meaning that the mother literally holds the baby several times each day, for months.

Fathers, on the other hand, are generally expected to provide for the family, and to sometimes take care of the child.

However, this arrangement where the mother spends much more time with the children, often extends beyond the time when there is a biological need for it. Even when the children can move around independently and feed themselves, we often find that they spend more time with their mothers while the father continues to provide and occasionally takes the family on outings or vacations.

But fathers ought to make deliberate effort to spend time with their children. There are several reasons for this.

One reason is that fathers bring a different perspective into their children’s lives and minds, both from the fact that they are male and from the simple fact that the father is a different person from the mother. A child benefits from seeing things from different perspectives.

Spending time with your children allows you to know them better. You get to know how they think, what they know, what they like, what they dislike, what they hope for, who their friends are and so on. The children, in turn, can get to know you and some of your experiences, your values, your likes and dislikes.

In addition, fathers can teach their children, especially their sons, practical skills that are often left to men – changing light bulbs, changing car tyres, basic repairs, use of tools and so on. This can help the children learn to be independent and also boost their self-confidence.

Instruction requires interaction

For Christians, the Bible explicitly instructs fathers to take part in bringing up their children. Ephesians 6:4, for example, tells fathers to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Instruction requires interaction and a father who spends time with his children will be better placed to impart lessons and give examples that the children can relate to and understand.

One of the reasons that fathers do not spend a lot of time with their children is the belief that they – the fathers – are busy. However, realising the great benefits and fulfillment that come from bonding with their children should be enough reason to for dads to make time and schedule it as an important activity.

Another reason is that some fathers feel ill-equipped to spend time with and take care of their children, and therefore prefer to leave that to their mothers, either because they feel that the mothers are more capable, or simply to escape this ‘scary’ work. There are two things that can counter this fear. One is the realisation that the father can learn to take care of a child just as well as the mother. Everything is learnt, after all and the sooner this starts after birth, the easier it gets as the child grows.

Second is to realise that the child usually just wants to hang out with their loved ones, not necessarily for a grand structured activity, but just to play, laugh and hang out together, something that is well within your capabilities.

For the above reasons, fathers should consciously make plans to spend time with their children from a young age. So the next time your child ask you to “Come play with me,” go and have fun.

Abraham Gumba is a digital creator, app developer and cybersecurity and data analyst.

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