TWO men in their fifties sat talking about their families. The first one said, “I admire how your children have stuck with their partners, and all seem to have comfortable lifestyles; three of my four children have different ‘baby fathers’, broken homes or messed up relationships. It makes me wonder where I went wrong”.
His friend replied, ‘Don’t beat yourself up over the choices your children made. Yes, we want the best for them, but all we can do is steer them in the right direction and hope they learn from our positive input and guidance. With my children, I put my foot down early because my father was a womaniser’.
‘How you mean?’ The first man asked, ‘How did that make you put your foot down?’. His friend continued. “Well, my father put my mother through emotional turmoil with his deceitful antics. He had several ‘woman friends’ besides mum. If he wanted to be a ‘sweet man’, he should have stayed a ‘sweet man’. He shouldn’t have taken a wife and start a family. It’s either one or the other. That type of behaviour ruins family life and affects children more than you can imagine.
I would never give my wife reason to cry over my behaviour the way my mother cried over him. I made up my mind early to be a one-woman man, which brings me to my children. A lot of their upbringing was trial and error. It took us a while to find the best way to instil values, especially when they became teenagers.
They listen to friends more than parents, at this stage and they think they know it all. Adolescence was a crucial time where we needed to have the greatest influence. We sat them down one day and made our expectations clear. They were to choose a career and complete their education before they even thought of having a serious or sexual relationship. And, as old-fashioned as it may seem, we insisted we meet anyone they liked before they became sexually involved.
My wife was more specific. She told them at least six months of courting, meeting and interacting with parents must precede any sexual involvement. When my daughter brought home a young man she liked, my wife asked him his plans for the next five years? Within a year, he came to ask our permission to marry our girl, and it was granted. By then, we had a pretty good idea of the type of son-in-law, husband and father he would be.
It was the same thing with the boys; we met their partners while they were courting and….’ His friend interrupted. ‘That could be where I missed out; I didn’t speak to my kids about that part at all; in fact, I’m not even sure when they became sexually active.
I tried not to dwell on those things; you know, talking to them about sex and contraceptives; boyfriend and girlfriend. I left it to their mother. I did my part, paying the mortgage and looking out for them – they had everything. But it all happened so quickly. One minute they were small, the next they were big children, all of them taller than me.
Three of my girls got pregnant before I met their baby fathers and when I did meet them, I was far from impressed. Being a grandfather is a nice feeling, but those children need more than my daughters alone can give them.
Out of the three, only one is still with the father, and he’s a waste of space, I tell you. He can’t help himself, much less support a woman and child…’ ‘Exactly my point’, his friend interjected, ‘Unless a man is prepared to care and support his family, he has no right impregnating a woman.
There are many ways he can have a ‘good time’ without making children or committing to a marriage and family life while still playing the field. Children are not playthings. They need a mother’s and father’s commitment. They need parents who will sit them down and tell them, A, B, C, so they know that we care. I made sure my lot had a sense of pride and self-worth – no one can take advantage of them.
You see that disregard my father showed for his marriage, my sibling and me? It showed me how ‘not’ to be. It also proved he had no plan or sense of direction – for himself or us. Why he got married and put us through all that is beyond me. Men should be honest about their intentions before they get into emotional and physical relationships’.
‘I hear you’, his friend replied. ‘They should, but youngsters nowadays have no time; they don’t think like that. Take my youngest; she has a thing for handsome men, nothing about values; once the man’s looking nice, she’s ready to get involved. Then there’s a whole rigmarole with my eldest and her two children’s uninvolved fathers…’.
His friend got up to leave, and he rose also. In conclusion, the second man said. ‘The way I see it, if you can’t see yourself spending your life with a person, then don’t have unprotected sex or pretend you love them, be open and honest. And children? – give them aspirations and teach them self-respect. Let them feel precious and loved; that’s what we did’. The two men walked away together, and the first one said. ‘Now I know my friend, now I know’.
If you are concerned about the welfare of a child, call the CPA hotline on 227 0979 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHILDCARE AND PROTECTION AGENCY,
MINISTRY OF HUMAN SERVICES AND SOCIAL SECURITY