Father’s Day, the changing role of fathers

Unlike in the past when fathers were not expected to do household chores like washing dishes, changing diapers, cooking and helping children with homework, the 21st century father now has to be familiar with such tasks.

Research across families from all ethnic backgrounds suggests that fathers who are actively engaged with their families helps to promote their children’s social and emotional development.

The study that was posted by Harvard Business Review shows that men and women no longer specialize in one role, as both are involved in paid work and care for children and the elderly.

The research also highlighted that when husbands had stressful workdays with extensive emotional demands, they provided less support to their wives. On these days, both spouses often rated the time the family spent together poorly.

In contrast, when wives were put in the same situation, their stressful workdays did not affect how much emotional support they provided to their husbands, nor did it affect the quality of the time the family spent together.

A father helps his son with homework. / Courtesy

Pastor Hassan Kibirango, who heads the men’s ministry at Christian Life Assembly church says the reason why women tend to provide more emotional support at home, towards their children and husbands is really part of the innate nature of women.

He says, this however doesn’t mean that men shouldn’t offer support at home, which is why, it is important for forums to be held to bring men together and teach them that their emotional support is needed as well at home, as fathers and husbands.

Kibirango further states that new fathers should give themselves grace because the new born child is more attached to the mother as for nine months they are in the womb of the mother. Therefore, they are more emotionally connected to their mothers; however, fathers should understand that this is normal.

“Christian Life Assembly Church offers a platform for men through the men’s conference which is organised annually and it gathers close to 200 hundred men. This year, it took place from June 14 to 15, and its purpose is to galvanise men and have conversations, with them, by them and for them to be able to help us be better in different areas that we have been called to do,” Kibirango notes.

He explains that part of the things men are called to do are; being faithful husbands, loving fathers, provide for a household, but to also be actively engaged in the areas where they make a living, to serve with integrity and excellence.

Matthew Rwahigi, a father of two, aged three and five, notes that being a father has taught him a lot of things. When him and his wife had just got their first child, it was his duty to carry the baby to belch whenever his wife had finished breastfeeding; generally, with time, they started sharing duties with his wife.

He further adds that he has changed his children’ diapers before, and even helps them out when they need to use the toilet and wipes them afterwards. This he says, is not only a responsibility of a mother but for both parents.

Rwahigi explains that in situations where the maid is away, he prepares food since he loves cooking, washes the dishes and even cleans the house, while his wife does laundry.

Kibirango adds that fathers need to read up on fatherhood, and recommends them to read a book titled, “What to expect when you’re expecting”, because it consists of a section for fathers, which might guide them on their fatherhood journey.

The father of three adds that as the world has continued to advance, there is a significant change in roles, tasks that were traditionally known to be for mothers, have now been taken on by fathers, especially in developed countries, for example; in the West and Europe, there are stay at home fathers where the mother has a very good job and the father stays at home to take care of the kids and do house chores.

Rwahigi also says, he feeds his kids, plays with them, takes them to school, helps them with homework and even looks forward to learning and doing more duties as they grow.

Rorah Abatesi, a mother of three says that a father is a role model of any home, his children especially the sons look up to him a lot, if a father is loving, caring, supportive and protective, that’s what his kids will emulate. It is for this reason that fathers have to be a good example.

A father with his daughters. / Courtesy

Abatesi further adds that fathers also need to take part in children’ academics, for example; they should check on their children’s performance more often and encourage them to even perform better.  There is a higher possibility of children passing highly if their fathers support them in their academics.

She notes that fathers shouldn’t only give financial support, but also take part in counseling their children so that they raise them with discipline.

“My husband is not a hundred percent supportive but he tries his best, through attending fatherhood programs, he has learnt how to communicate with me and our children and he spends more time with us unlike before when his friends were his first priority,” Says Noreen Kabasinga.

For Kibirango, as a husband and the man in the house, he helps out on chores that require fixing, for instance; metallic work, or fitting the bulb, among other duties.

He notes that men need more platforms where they can meet and talk, because there are certain things men share around each other that they don’t find it easy to share outside the space of men.

“I have learnt that being a father is a gift from God, my schedule changed, when I reach home, I pose other duties, put my phone a side and shift all my attention to my daughter and wife,” says Emma Gahigana, a father of one.

He adds that playing and having more time with his daughter has helped him bond with her even more, that sometimes she refuses her mother to feed her but then he has tricks of making her eat food.

Gahigana notes that the moments spent playing with his child have made him learn new things about parenting, he can tell when his daughter is sick, happy or in a sad mood and know how to help in such situations.

On top of that he says, he takes his child to bed and sings her lullabies until she sleeps.

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WHAT HAS FATHERHOOD TAUGHT YOU?

Fatherhood has helped me value and respect my father even more than anyone else. Now I know and appreciate that he sacrificed everything for me because I am a father and I have tested what it means to head a family. It is quite challenging but what gives me joy and pushes me to work harder is to see that my kids and wife get everything they need in life.

Paul Nshimye

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Through fathering three children, I have come to notice my responsibility as a father (to love and support my kids emotionally, psychologically, financially, morally and physically). I have also learnt to support my wife in whatever way possible for the smoothing running of our home.

Charles Kayumba

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Fatherhood has taught me a lot of different things like responsibilities, you are never a father until you take up the task to be the man of the house, the protector, the provider for your wife first then to the little ones. You even have to do more because as the head of the house, everyone looks up to you.

Patrick Rugira

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As a father, I have learnt to stay focused and work hard as I want to cater for all my family members’ requirements because if I don’t, no one will do so on my behalf.
I want to give my kids all the necessities I never got a chance to acquire when I was young.

John Nkurunziza

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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