Parenting has never seemed like an easy task. I’ve heard many people talk about how life-changing it is to become a parent. Last week, I decided to talk to a few Nigerian fathers of different ages and backgrounds to know what the hardest parts of fatherhood are.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. Yemi, 58.
I have five children. My oldest child is 37, and the hardest part about fatherhood is struggling to make sure, day in day out that everything is all right. By everything, I mean food, clothing, shelter, health, schooling, protection, safety, etc. You are always praying for things to turn out well for the family. You’re always afraid to receive bad news that something has gone wrong with your wife or children. Even when you’re asleep, they’re on your mind.
2. Uche, 31
My son is three years old. On the arrival of your child, you lose your lifestyle and maybe a bit of your personality. Children also alter the relationship you have with your partner. You have to do everything to protect and provide despite all odds being against it. You may have to break many standards. The feeling of not being able to provide enough to take care of the family is one thing that drains the energy of a responsible father. All that busyness can make a father miss out on the key developmental parts of their child’s life and when you look back, you realise that you were out hustling when you should have been there to see your child grow. It’s a terrible feeling.
3. Frank, 37
Generally, fatherhood is fulfilling, but because it comes with responsibilities, it can also be tasking. Based on personality, resources and experiences, people experience varying difficulties when they become fathers. For me, the hardest part about being a father to my children is the provision of basic amenities. As a father, you have to constantly provide. There are no breaks. Today it’s food, tomorrow it’s school fees, another day it’s clothes. Another thing is watching your children being sick and not being able to do anything about it. It’s draining. When your child is in pain, you feel the pain too.
I travel a lot for work, so I miss my children a lot. I know fathers who are out hustling and don’t express that they miss their children because they’re working to provide for them anyway, but when I’m not with my children, I terribly miss them.
4. Fatai, 46
I have three children. My first child is 19. The hardest part about being a father is that you have to create a path for your children. The thing is, you’ve never been a father before, so you’re doing these things for the first time and you’re scared that you aren’t doing the right thing. Will I be able to lead my children onto the right path for their lives? You can’t leave your child at any point in their life. You’re their father forever, so you have to keep going. As your children grow, they develop different needs, so you have to adapt your fatherhood to your children’s needs at different points in their lives.
5. David, 27
I’m a new father. My son is two months old and the hardest part about being a father is having to work a bit harder to provide for both my wife and son. My wife can’t work right now because of our son, so I have to put in an extra shift. Putting in an extra shift means I don’t have as much time for my family as I would love to. So I’m more drained because I have to work more, and I also want to spend more time with my family. It’s about finding a perfect balance.
6. Oba, 55
Being a father is a task that continually needs wisdom. You can’t take breaks. It’s a fully immersive lifelong journey that you have to constantly learn from. One thing many fathers don’t know is that they need to learn from other fathers who have done it before them. Fathers need to ask questions.
The way you raise your child should be determined by your culture. I’m from Kwara state, and my father was polygamous so he never had time for us. The only lesson I got from him was “Remember the child of whom you are”. Even though I didn’t receive so much training from him, I know that my children must also remember where they come from and that helps me determine how to train them. It’s hard figuring out all these things at once because I have three children with completely different personalities, and I have to be a father to every single one of them.