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Daily Nation : February 12th 2014
4 Living Wednesday February 12, 2014 DAILY NATION cover ‘We change diapers!’ Me When it comes to raising children, the work is generally left to women, with fathers expected to play the secondary role of disciplinarian and bread winner. But some of today’s fathers are more involved than before F BY MILLICENT MWOLOLO email@example.com athers are an integral part of any child’s life. While mothers protect, father’s encourage their children to push the limits. Studies have shown that children with involved fathers have better educational outcomes and intellectual development. According to veteran broadcast journalist Jimmi Gathu, being a dad is probably the single most important role a man can have because it relates to every aspect of their life. Jimmi, who is father of three daughters aged 21, 13 and 8, and a grand parent to an eight month old grand-daughter, has hosted the forum, Daddy’s Talk, at the annual Baby Banda fair for the past three years. It is here that he shares with fellow men how they can be involved in their children in simple but meaningful ways. Being a good dad, Jimmi states, means that you will raise a responsible and wholesome individual who will mirror you as an adult. “This individual will then become a good husband, good father, good politician, good businessman, because of the values you have imparted on them,” he emphasises. A dad should start being involved in their child’s life at the point of the pregnancy. “Did you know a baby straight out of its mother’s womb knows the voices of the parents? Those funny sounds you make while rubbing your wife’s tummy while she is pregnant registers in the child’s brain. I’m talking from experience,” Jimmi shares. While most men would shy from it, diaper change is actually a great time for bonding. “The baby looks at you, hears you when you talk and begins to register what you look like and he never forgets,” adds Jimmi, who accompanied his wife for ante-natal clinics and the birth of all their children. “I did everything, from taking my wife to clinics and managing her cravings, some of INVOLVED FATHERS There are certain attributes that fa- thers have as parents that cannot be replicated. Thus, their contribution should not be ignored. Fathers parent differently. They pro- vide the children with a broader experience of relational differences, which is critical for development. Fathers play differently. The playful interaction between father and child teaches children a healthy balance between timidity and aggression. Fathers build confidence. Mothers pro- tect and fathers teach children how to push limits. Together, they help children remain safe while expanding their experiences and increasing their confidence. Fathers communicate differently. They tend to observe and enforce rules systematically and sternly, teaching children the consequences of right and wrong. Fathers prepare children for the real world. Involved dads help children to see that attitudes and behaviours have consequences. Fathers provide a look at the world of From left: Jazmine Kanyiha, Chantal Wanjiru (holding her daughter Ella Rose Wajiru), Solange Wambui and father Jimmi Gathu. PHOTO | COURTESY men. Girls with involved, married fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex. From their fathers, boys have their masculinity affirmed and learn how to channel their masculinity and strength in positive ways. — www.focusonthefamily.com which got me out of the house late at night. I also stayed up with her when she couldn’t sleep and helped her sleep by singing or talking to the baby and bathing her. The list is endless,” he recalls passionately. Jimmi believes that such small ways mark the beginning of lifetime bond between a parent and the child. “The child gets to trust you and that builds onto many things, including seeking you out when in need of advice or emotional protection,” Jimmi shares, adding that this further helps the child to develop the confidence to build friendships and relationships later in life, both professionally and socially. For the last three years that he has hosted Daddy’s Talk, Jimmi singles out communication in marriage as one of the issues that keeps cropping up. “It is a surprise how many men have no idea how it affects everything else including sex. I’m talking about how a simple “You look nice” can translate into so many things in a marriage, and how the lack of it can almost destroy your relationship,” he explains. “However, many men are hungry for good advice on how to fix their relationships. They do love their wives and are tired of the ‘men ego’ nonsense that they see breaking many marriages,” Jimmi states. He advises other dad’s that Daddy’s Talk has a lot to offer in terms of lessons learnt, and more importantly, spending time with men going through or have been through similar experiences. “I encourage men, married, or soon to be, to come and hang out with us and learn,” he says. Getting involved Heglon Kitawi, 36, is a father of two sons aged seven and four . He knows too well the importance of being involved in his children right from pregnancy. “Being involved has helped my wife to settle down and influenced how our babies respond. Their immune system is boosted and this is very important for the baby. In addition, a happy mom gives birth to a happy baby,” Heglon states passionately. From the forum, Heglon has learnt what to expect during pregnancy and how to handle the mood swings and other challenges that come with it. “As such, I have found myself more pre- pared,” he shares. He describes the first three months when they were expecting their last-born, a son, as very difficult for his wife. “She lost weight and I was always tak- ing her to the hospital. Certain smells were nauseating to her and I often volunteered to make her meals. We had no house-help then,” he states. He adds that this gave his wife the assurance that they were together in the pregnancy. “This was my child and it was a big thing to be involved,” he says proudly. Even more, Heglon has been present at the delivery room. “It was during Easter. We took a long walk early morning when her water broke. I immediately took the baby bag and drove my wife to the Mater Hospital where she was admitted at 5am. She was in labour until 4pm, and I was right next to her” Heglon explains. Unfortunately, due to the long hours of labour, the baby was under duress and an emergency Caesarean section had to be performed. “I signed the forms and after the process, one of the doctors allowed me to see her before she was wheeled to the ward,” he adds. Heglon was involved in expressing breast milk, changing diapers and feeding the baby.
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