Fatherhood is underrated, I thought. We rarely think through the sacrifices our fathers made to see us grow. This thought has however been provoked lately. These conversations got me thinking;
“I miss my children. I see them on weekends but I want to know how they are doing every day. I want to come home and talk to them in person. Am willing to make this work until they are old enough” He said
“I can barely sleep at night. I have a lot going on in my mind. My partner had left for a while back then she came back. I keep wondering if she is really committed. I however do not want my son to grow in my absence. Am willing to hang on for around ten years. He will be old enough then to understand.” He said
“I cannot think of any other purpose. My interests do not really matter now. My life and thoughts revolve around the kids. All am thinking about is how I will pay their school fees. I need to maintain their life style despite my reduced income. I feel like screaming loud somewhere alone…but I do not know how to be away from my wife and kids” He said
Whether a father is living with their children or getting visitation rights, dads are not baby sitters or secondary parents; they are not helping out. They are primary parents. People usually tend to think that motherhood involves lots of effort, from birth giving to nurturing and everything in between. But fatherhood is hard, too; no one just ended up emphasizing it that much. Being a good father comes with a fair share of challenges;
- Earnings never equal expenditure
With new responsibilities comes newly developed pressure to earn more. From diapers, clothes, medicines to school supplies, everything demands money. Until and unless your child grows old enough to start living independently and earning themselves, you are the bread earner. Even for pampering you on father’s day, your child would ask for pocket money from you to gift you some personalized father’s day gifts.
- Challenge in Setting priorities
There are so many things or areas of your life that needs so much of your attention. Work, spouse, kids and household chores might be just four arenas to list, but each of these is wide enough to consume your entire time and efforts. This may take away your passions, interests or social life. You just can’t end up investing some time in yourself; pursue what you like to do in your leisure time.
Worrying about finances, balancing the priorities and wondering if you are a good father can take a toll emotionally. Lack of time to unwind or engage in healthy leisure activities does not help the situation either. Intimacy may also be reduced or lost as children take center stage.
In my friend’s words, “there is no manual to being the best Dad.” We would however want a world where fathers enjoy the journey without losing themselves in the process;
- Know your family values
What do you and your partner value in life as individuals and as a couple? When you define your values as a family, you have a compass to guide your decisions and actions. This makes it easier for you to prioritize without disagreements. Establish family rituals – Sunday football, eating dinner together. It’s the little things that count.
- Be flexible in your methods and critical on your goals
Detach yourself from a rigid idea of how you will get there and just focus on getting there. Keep an open mind to your methods with your eyes on the prize. “Pick your goals like you’d pick your friends. Make sure your goals fit who you are today, not who you were in the years before having a kid.”; Redefine friends and family time.
- Respect the other parent of your child.
Parents who respect each other and demonstrate mutual respect to their children, provide a secure environment for them. Having a mutual understanding also makes it easy to create a balance between parenting and other roles or activities. It also helps to figure out your finances, prepare a family budget and share parenting tasks.
- Seek involvement early
Fatherhood guilt and challenges mostly emanate from failure to bond early in life. Be your child’s teacher, eat together, spend time together, discipline with love and earn the right to be heard.
- Develop a self-care routine
Stay in good physical health, get a doctor’s checkup, eat healthy and balanced meals, and get sufficient sleep. If you can’t care for your own well-being, it will be hard to help your family do the same. “Many new parents struggle with exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and burnout,” having practices in place to proactively care for your mental health will help a lot when the rubber hits the road.
Build a support system – therapists, personal trainers, family members, and even a good group of friends who remind you when you need a break.
“Fatherhood is a lifetime responsibility with its challenges, sweetness and bitterness.” Oluwakemi Ola-Ojo
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