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Dads peek into their kids’ lives

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd June 2010 03:00 AM

IT is not always that you will find men listening attentively, discussing and sharing experiences about child upbringing. To many, it is a kind of ‘gossip’, only fit for women, a no-go area for men.

IT is not always that you will find men listening attentively, discussing and sharing experiences about child upbringing. To many, it is a kind of ‘gossip’, only fit for women, a no-go area for men.

By Mark Owor

IT is not always that you will find men listening attentively, discussing and sharing experiences about child upbringing. To many, it is a kind of ‘gossip’, only fit for women, a no-go area for men.

But on the morning of June 19, the age-old wall crumbled, the gates opened, the myths were broken and the men found their way into the lives of their children. It was a jolly mood, an unusual gathering, a reunion of fathers at the Mama Tendo Father’s Day breakfast meeting at Grand Imperial Hotel.

The guest speaker, Robert Kabushenga, the Vision Group CEO and a father of three, said Father’s Day was a day for honouring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence the fathers have in society. He, however, said this does not come on a silver platter and called upon fathers to work for it by being there for their children right from the start. He emphasised the need to build a strong relationship with their children, know what is going on in their lives and teach them values to ensure discipline and a better future.

He said the choice of schools for children matters a lot. He stressed that success is not just about children passing with first grades and parents buying them cars when there is no discipline.

He attributed the rampant moral decadence to absentee parents. “We have delegated our parental roles to nannies, teachers and drivers and the end result is abuse and lack of morals,” he said. “What will you do if your child develops an intimate relationship with her teacher? Who will you blame?” he asked. “That’s how low you have set the aspiration of your daughter, that the best man in her life is the driver. Do not be shocked when your teenage daughter turns up with a pregnancy from your guard or driver,” he added.

He lamented that all some children know about their fathers was that they come home, leave shoes at the doorsteps, change clothes, lie in the sofa to watch TV, before dosing off.

“The trend must change because it is not good modelling for our children,” he said. Kabushenga added that there was no reason why parents should not teach their children that they must shave, cut their hair and tuck in their shirts to appear neat.

“As long as I am in the country, I drop my children at school and I pick them. No one does that for me. When they are sick, I do not call my wife to take them to hospital. And once a year I take my children camping and get to know them better. I am deliberately building a relationship with them” he said.

Kabushenga condemned an approach to parenting where children are rewarded for performing normal family duties like clearing the table, laying the beds and cleaning their bedrooms, adding that this breeds children without a sense to public service.

“As a parent I have done my duty. I have given you a good home; I have given you good food. I take you to hospital when you are sick, why should I reward you for clearing the table after breakfast? That is your duty as a child and good citizen of my home,” he said sparking off thunderous applause from fathers. Kabushenga added that in this era of technology, it is not bad for children to have all electronic gadgets like iPods, but parents must manage what is on them.

He advised parents to spend an hour daily interacting with their children. He also warned parents against allowing their children to have ‘sleep overs’.

Charles Ocici of Enterprise Uganda noted that parents are part of the core unit that makes up the nation. “I am sorry to say most parents have absconded from their duties and surrendered their children to teachers, maids, and friends. We think it is a matter of giving food and shelter and by the time we wake up, it is already too late.”

Ocici emphasised the need to ‘bend a branch while it is still young and flexible’. “The earlier we begin to manage our families by directing our children, the higher the chances that we shall have responsible citizens.” He called upon fathers to get back to the basics and bring up children, not criminals.

Catherine Ruhweza, the chief executive officer for the Mama Tendo Foundation, said the organisation will not relegate their commitment. “We want stable and happy families where the leadership of a father is felt and appreciated. That is the essence of this meeting, to highlight the role of fathers,” she said.

Dads peek into their kids’ lives

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