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Learning to relate with your daughter

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th March 2009 03:00 AM

Robert has a 14-year-old daughter whose mother he had separated from. When he decided to move out with another woman, he was in a dilemma. His daughter was bitter about the new catch and the lady knew it.

Robert has a 14-year-old daughter whose mother he had separated from. When he decided to move out with another woman, he was in a dilemma. His daughter was bitter about the new catch and the lady knew it.

By Ben Okiror

Robert has a 14-year-old daughter whose mother he had separated from. When he decided to move out with another woman, he was in a dilemma. His daughter was bitter about the new catch and the lady knew it.

Despite the vivid animosity in the house, Robert married the new woman. Most likely on the woman’s advice, the two were wed while the girl was at school.

Many single fathers find themselves locked in similar situations. On top of dealing with resentful children, they have to contend with loneliness and playing the role of a mother. It is a hard ball game but one whose challenges they must face.

Francis Opoi, a senior internal auditor and father of two has resolved not to re-marry.

At 44 and with a 17-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter, Opoi says he does not want to produce another child who will require help in his old age and retirement. But not every man can be single like Opoi; many will look for a replacement. The challenge is how to introduce a new woman in the home without antagonising the children.

Stephen Langa, the executive director of Family Life Network, says: “If you decide to marry, sell the idea to the children first and be patient with them. If you do it by force, it will breed resentment.” He warns that the new reality demands that he becomes both the father and mother.

You should spend more time with your children than the average father, Langa advises, to bring you closer to them and develop friendship and a stronger bond.

The emotional drain suffered due to the absence of your spouse should be mitigated by establishing a friend (not necessarily female) whom you will share your feelings with, he said.

“Such a friend helps you replenish the lost emotional energy, otherwise you will break down.”
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Francis Opoi,
Senior internal auditor

When his 15-year-old daughter began getting pimples, Francis Opoi had not explained to her that it was part of the changes she would experience as she grows. Thinking it was a rash, the girl would cut them with a razorblade.

Having grown up in a setting where sex talk between parents and their children is a taboo, Opoi found difficulty talking to his children, especially his daughter, about body changes associated with adolescence.

When he saw her with scars on her face, he ignored it.

But later he gathered the courage to tell her pimples were part of the changes in her body
but would eventually go away.

Opoi, who has been a widower for nine years, initially had difficulty explaining to his daughter who did not understand what death meant. She would ask him; “I saw mum travelling in a box, when will she come back?”

The absence of a mother also meant that the children grew up without doing house chores. And with the housemaid around, they almost did nothing. What Opoi did was to send the housemaid away so he could have time alone with them. He was surprised at how well they adjusted.

“The house was well-mopped, arranged and the boy got involved in cooking,” says Opoi. He too would, once in a while, wash clothes and plates.

As a sign of respect for his children, Opoi ensured that the only female visitors in his house were relatives. One of his sisters had to step in for two years after his wife died to look after the children until they recovered from their grief.

He advises single parents to avoid promiscuity because the children will “think it is normal”.



Learning to relate with your daughter

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