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Moppet Dadsperience: Overcoming The Fear Of Fatherhood

Fatherhood is a sweet yet challenging experience. Prior to becoming a father, most men are inundated with the fear of raising a child and the uncertainty of the future outcome. Legal practitioner, Joe Abrahams Jnr shares his experience before and after becoming a father:

I had my first child a year after my marriage. She is three years old now. Before she was born, I was euphoric with mixed feelings.

It was a surprise. When the delivery date was close, we thought the baby was going to be a boy because he was very active. Alas, it was a girl. Personally, I wanted a baby girl. Having a baby girl took me aback a bit, but it was not one of disappointment or concern. I felt the same way I would have felt if it were a boy. I was overwhelmed. It dawned on me that I brought a child into the world and I was going to be responsible for her. I knew instantly that a lot more was expected of me.

My biggest fear was that I might not be enough. The fear that I might not be able to provide financially for her well-being without making compromises. I was worried about whether I would be a good example to her. I wondered whether I would be there for her all the time; Whether I would discipline her well without overdoing it…different thoughts came to mind.

I was able to overcome these fears with the constant reassurance from people who were there before me. For instance, I have an elder brother who has three children, so he provides a good frame of reference for me. He speaks to me from his own experiences and I also reassure myself from that.
Also, I remind myself of who I am and my core values. That those things do not have to change drastically because I am a father now. The other sides of me that I am not proud of, I also need to work on that.

Being a father has been challenging and fulfilling. Challenges such as Finance because you have to provide for your children. I pride myself to be able to do all that but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I have also learned to juggle priorities. You cannot just buy what you see in a store because it’s not just you anymore; There is a child now and your children come first.

Spiritually, you can’t just pray however you want. There is a child in the picture who does not know what it means to pray, so I have to step in and pray on her behalf. Sometimes, your children are with people or other children you don’t know; People whose values you cannot vouch for, but you just assume they are good people. This frightens me. So, what I do is pray for her and put her in God’s hands.

Few weeks ago, I went to my daughter’s school. There is a child in her class that is always pinching her…she tells us when she gets home because we encourage her to tell us anything that happens to her. I took it up with the school and proper discipline was meted out to the child.
So, I am always skeptical about the people she hangs out with in school. I am trying my best to be a good parent, but some people sleep on their own children; They carry their own ‘reggae’ to spoil your ‘blues’. You are teaching your child not to beat people or call people names, but other children in their class are doing it. It’s hard going over the lessons again.

I live with the fear that my child may not turn out the way I would want her to. I live with the constant fear of ‘pikin wey go spoil go spoil’ and the world is littered with many examples. However, there are children who turned out well because of good parenting, and I wake up every morning focusing on that.
I may have the feeling that whatever my good intentions and actions are, my child may turn out differently but I have this reassurance and deep conviction within me that my own will be different. I also have an optimistic outlook on life. It helps.

To men who are about to become a father, you can never be prepared enough for fatherhood. However, you should have some form of gainful employment; You cannot freestyle raising a child. You should have somewhere to draw strength from financially because children don’t grow up on prayers, they grow up on support.

Regarding the psychological bits, just have the best intentions for your children. Children see past the things you do; They look at why you do them. Be the best around them, and be the best you can be. If you have a girl child like I do, it’s not everything you do that affects them immediately. It may be years later. For example, I don’t want my daughter to believe that ‘all men cheat.’ But I have to be that example for her. So even when it seems it’s true, she will say ‘my father never cheated on my mum’. I have invalidated that belief that ‘all men cheat’ and so she may want to end up with someone like me on that ground. So, for me, be the best you can be.

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