We’ll take a break today from the life is series to study and ruminate on the topic of fatherhood. I think to get fatherhood right there are three people who must work as a team God, a father and a child (obviously). In order to get different perspective on the topic I interviewed three different guys living in different places with different family histories. Right let’s get into it then shall we, meet our lovely guests:
Guest number 1:
Chika Edeh: an academic researcher, married and a father to two beautiful children.
Guest number 2:
Derek Nwafor: self employed, married and a father to three beautiful kids.
Guest number 3:
Aham Onyeneke: business developer, married and a father to two beautiful kids.
What does it mean to be a father?
Chika: It means being a steward. A steward of the young lives committed to me as my offspring, to protect, nurture, develop and mould them after God’s purpose and desire.
Derek: I have adopted these words (they are not originally mine): source, sustainer, cover, foundation, shield, fence, wall, financier, coach, pastor, prophet,leader, instructor. In the words of a popular phrase; the God we can see (God miniaturised and within reach of my kids.)
Aham: The word ‘Father’ seems to encapsulate a number of other words including Progenitor, nourisher, upholder, source, sustainer, author, guardian, creator and role model. In my experience and leanings, the father is one who gives life and is committed to it.
Have you always wanted to be a father?
Chika: I think I have always wanted to be a father. The idea that I could have the privilege to RE-PRODUCE; to introduce someone to this life, and help guide his or her emergence into it, was something that tugged at my heart deeply. In fact, at some point before I met my wife, I stopped praying for a life partner, and started praying for my ‘seed’, blessing them and prophesying over them. That’s how deeply I seemed to have connected with that desire. Of course, I had to prayerfully find the right mum to be :-).
Derek: Well, when you say ‘always’ it sounds a bit funny… I’m not sure I was planning to be a father while I was in Primary school… :-). When I started praying and planning to be married, I expected to be a parent. Eventually I arrived at a point where I knew I would have at least three children.
Aham: Fatherhood for me has been a journey, one that started when I was only 9 years old. My dad had an illness that few believed he would survive. So one night he called me and charged me, “Take care of your mum and your siblings’’ and so fatherhood was thrust on me. At that time, fatherhood meant being a role model to my brothers and living up to the example set for me by my hero – my father.
When did it (fatherhood) become a reality to you?
Chika: I think it was just after my first child was born. You see the young lad stayed in for an extra 12 days post EDD, and had to come through CS. After he came out they rushed him to another room to clean him up, and because he had been distressed he hadn’t cried yet. I had been praying out loud (not shouting, but audibly throughout the whole thing. So I followed them to that room, they tried everything: shocks, suction, but his heart rate was dropping, and he still hadn’t cried. At this point my prayers ceased, I was more or less suspended somewhere I can’t quite describe. It seemed like a very long time and everyone was very quiet. Then, with a gut-wrenching scream, he let out his first cry! And almost simultaneously, but more silently, I wept. That’s when it hit me- YOU ARE A FATHER!
Derek: when my wife confirmed she was pregnant. I knew a life had started inside her and that was the life of our first child. Even though we had prayed and studied about (our) children in general before then, our prayers from that point were obviously focused on our daughter. I got a clear message that the baby was a girl. I guess you could say the ‘reality’ grew as she did, and with her birth obviously a whole new level of that reality started.
Aham: Maybe it was the day I read a write up of my brother saying I was the single most influential person in his life. Or maybe it was when I pastored some young people and found myself making significant inputs in their lives. What is undeniable is the burden of responsibility that was clear as daylight as I carried Pearl (our first daughter) in my hands for the first time, filled with wonder.
Were you at the birthing of your child/children? Please explain why?
Chika: I think the question’s been answered above.
Derek: yes I was at the birth of the first two of my three children. Why? I was there because I am their father and my wife was literally passing through a life and death situation, it was unimaginable to me that I should be anywhere else. My third child and second daughter was born outside the country so I was not able to be there for that. It hurt personally but I commended my wife and my daughter to God’s care. For the two births I was present at I stayed all through in/around the theatre and I prayed over them when they were delivered. For my third, I prayed over the phone.
Aham: till I read this question it never occurred to me that I could have been anywhere else but with Ogo during the birth of our girls. We had done everything together so it was only natural that we should go through that experience “hand–in–hand”. I actually cut the umbilical cord for our second daughter.
Do you think the above scenario influences your parenting style and love for your kids?
Chika: I think it mattered to me that I was there with my beloved, I felt it was the least I could do for her- after nine months of carrying our baby. But even more so, to be there at the first sight of my children was important. There are many things we would never know about our children as they grow older (the time literally flies) and that’s ok. As they grow they will begin to cultivate their own circle of friends that they prefer to hang out with and in those moments I will cherish the privilege and privacy of knowing that I was there when they first showed up. So yes, it does in a way. I think I would still love and parent my kids as I do even if I wasn’t there to see them come. However, that experience has given my something very personal and intimate in my relationship with and love towards them.
Derek: I guess you could say so. Actually the scenario or my approach to the birth of my children was a result of my love for my wife and children and even though I didn’t come to love them more because of the experience, my gratitude to God for their lives was taken to a higher dimension. My parenting approach is advised by the fact that there are things God expects us to get up and do by ourselves in raising our children and ensuring their survival and success.
Aham: No, my presence during the birth of our girls has nothing to do with my parenting approach nor my relationship with them. However, I do believe that it being a consciously shared experience between Ogo and I makes it is a testament to our strength, our victory, and a chord of unity tying up an episode of glory in our lives.
…. to be continued.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed being with us, stay tuned next week for more on fatherhood. See you next Saturday.
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