Gender Gender

Early father-child bonding vital

JUDITH KONAYUMA

Gender Focus with JUDITH KONAYUMA
IF THERE is a task that men hesitantly take on, it is to look after children, and worse still, take the children to the hospital, let alone, without the company of a wife.
But there was one man who amazed me and I regretted I had no camera at the time to take his picture. He deserved recognition!
I ended up at a private hospital last week to see a doctor. While I sat on the waiting bench, in came the man, in fact a father with his three children, all girls.
The older of the children seemed to be six years old, the second one could have been three and the last one, whom the father carried, a baby, might have been eight months old, who seemed to be the patient.
He carried the baby, wrapped in a shawl, with such ease and dexterity and after the reception preliminaries, he took his position on the bench, still with ease.
It was the way he carried on with his task of taking care of the children and, much more, the duty to take the children to the hospital that amazed me. It looked like he enjoys a strong bond with his children.
For many people, when they see a man in this position, their mind quickly wonders as to where the mother of the children is. Let us give her a break for now.
Our focus is on this man, a father who showed that roles such as taking children to hospital are not the sole preserve of the mother. In fact, such moments give an opportunity for the father and children to bond.
Often, it is the mother, even if she has a job outside the home, to rush children to the hospital when they are unwell while the father heads to his workplace.
A mother can end up being the one woman in the company who is always asking for time off or sending her boss messages that she would report for work late because she has taken her child to the hospital.
And for a mother who has toddlers, she has to make the trip to the hospital whenever any one of them is unwell.
On top of that, a mother has to take time off every month, if they are still toddlers and under five, to fulfil the under-five clinic schedule.
That is why a visit to the under-five clinic shows that 99 percent of parents are mothers. The fathers are nowhere near the clinic.
The campaign to have fathers accompany their wives to the under-five clinic has not showed any success because many fathers have still stayed away. The under-five clinic largely remains the mother’s domain.
It is without contention that in most cases, mothers tend to bond more with their children, especially when they are young. It takes time for most fathers to do so.
That is why fathers should take advantage of such moments like taking their children to the hospital or even out to have them have some fun, without their mother, so that they can create a stronger bond with them.
A father has vital lessons and values to impart to their children, whether girls or boys. It is not being a man to refer to the children as “your children” when talking to the wife because they have done something wrong, and only to be his children when they get back home brandishing a prize in their hand.
I have seen some children who have grown up enjoying such a strong bond with their fathers, arising out of a bond that evolved from the time the children were infants.
With such a bond, children, no matter their sex, will not shrink back from going to their father for advice when they come face to face with issues of life. They will always seek their father’s advice at every turn in life.
And the opposite is true that the lack of a bond between the children and a father sets them miles apart and end up living a life of mouse-and-cat. It is no wonder some children make a shipwreck of their lives and the accusing finger rightly points to the father.
At any point that the children are growing, they need the father’s presence in their lives so that they can benefit from both parents.
More fathers than mothers have demanding jobs, but for some, it should not mean that they have to spend 18 hours away from home.
Once they see their children in the morning, the next time they will see them is the following day, having returned home the previous night when the children had long retired for the night.
This is bound to place a mother under pressure, but worse still, it has the tendency to bring children closer to their mother than their father because he is ever absent. She needs a break.
jkonayuma@daily-mail.co.zm.

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