I have been a father for 10 years! I thought I would share with you what fatherhood means to me and the journey so far. This is MY experience.
First and foremost, ode to my father. A man who I feel set a good example for us and set the bar really high. Nothing but respect! One thing he would not allow us or any of the children we played with to say was ‘pfutsek’. Hanzi imbwa indiyo inotukwa kunzi pfutsek. I also had a fabulous relationship with my father inlaw. At no point did he ever treat me like a mukwasha. We would spend hours talking. Had absolute respect for these men. They shaped my perception of what it means to be a father. These men are gone but their lessons remain.
I am kinda of an old school, more traditional and conservative type of father and my values towards fatherhood are based on the bible. Being a father has also helped me to get a better understanding of my relationship with God. I have come to understand that being a father is not a title but a responsibility, its love in action, its a service. As a father I don’t expect to be congratulated for carrying out my duties.
It is a beautiful sacrifice you no longer live for yourself but for your family and its well being. Society today will tell you to always think about yourself but happiness as a father comes from giving yourself for the sake of your family.
Head of the Home
As a father I am the head of my home, I have to lead my family by setting an example in love and morality. Providing leadership and direction. The leadership role is not authoritarian but is in partnership with my wife, my helper. It is a privilege and an honour for my wife to allow me to be the father in the home. I am able to lead the family because she allows me, I am the father of three children because she has allowed it.
The ideal is for the father to live under the same roof with the mother or his children.
Children are a gift from God and he has entrusted us fathers to train them and lead our families. As a father I read ‘train a child in the way he should grow so he will not leave it’ we are coaches who are to train. Training involves being present on the ground giving direction, encouragement and discipline. No good coach trains via the phone. A coach who does not spend time with his team but expects good results is deluded.
The buck stops with the father
A hard truth I learnt about fatherhood is that buck stops with me. If my house is a shambles, I have to take responsibility. If the family is broken down I have to take responsibility as the head. Sometimes I may feel the urge to make excuses for the shortfalls of leading the family but the buck stops with the head. I constantly have to watch what I do and say as it reflects on my wife and my children are also watching and learning.
I have learnt to be patient dealing with kids, I have learnt a lot about life from just watching our kids. Having worked a lot from home and I feel guilty at times that I can’t spend enough time with my kids. What more of people who are full time at work? But I have seen the rewards of spending more time with them. Children also taught me how to forgive.
Disciplining children in love
I understand why Christ said unless we become like children we would not enter the Kingdom of heaven “Do not let the sun go down on your anger” Dealing with things TODAY, and letting it go. Even when punishment continues, its just the process playing out. Anger is gone. Do not carry out any discipline in anger, that’s when it can easily lead to abuse
Loving the kids also means that I do not spare the rod, at times it hurts to see them cry but I know its necessary. I would rather they are disciplined by my loving hand than by the heavy hand of the law. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Its keeping that balance that is very important and is no easy job. But the rewards a great. Some we will only reap when our kids have left our home.
Being fair with children
Fathering two kids who are of similar age you become a referee mediating between various battles and misunderstandings. They also conspire. Sometimes wrong decision are made in disciplining the wrong child! But I have learnt to apologise to the kids when that happens. I realised as well we were are not as clever as we were thought we were while growing up. Parents can see through a lot of the lies and gimmicks.
I have also realised that I am a bit harder on my son than on my daughter and I am very protective of her. This is because of the reality that life out their is not fair out their and the girl child is at a disadvantage. The older she grows the more I realise that I can go to extents I never imagined to protect her.
Protecting the children is also weeding out bad friends. One of my kids memory verses is ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’. I didn’t have to tell him to stop playing with some of his friends. They got into trouble and allowed them to be punished. He insisted he was innocent. I said its because you are playing with ‘Freddy’ who is naughty.
“How can two walk together unless they agree?” Choose your friends who influence you carefully as a father. As a rule the closest people to me are other fathers, christians to be specific. I also spend a lot of time with young men who are about to marry. Share as much with them as possible. Encouraging them to marry. Trying my level best to show them that marriage is a beautiful thing. Fatherhood is something honourable and worthy to be desired.
I try my very best to answer all of my children questions, tough as it maybe. But its important I provide answers otherwise someone else will.
Being consistent in Messaging
Consistency is very important for example how you are perceived at church with how you are at home. Your family should not see two different messages. Mixed messages will confuse kids and you will lose credibility as a leader. Your children will innocently embarrass you and you will have only yourself to blame! A father has to ensure that the home is a sanctuary which everyone is eager to come back for nourishment and protection. My wife and children should always be eager to come home at the end of a long day.
One of the things I have cherished is hearing my kids say that they miss me when I have been away for a few days.
I constantly have to look in the mirror and ask myself;
Am I being a good father?
Sometimes I am not happy with what I see but I challenge myself to a higher standard of fatherhood and continue in the lifelong endeavor.
The journey of fatherhood continues… Feel free to leave your experiences in the comments.