Article Contributed by Maina Watene
Recently my daughter accompanied me as I went for a quiet time in a nearby café. I carried a word puzzle to
keep her busy while I carried a book to read. The whole idea was for us to seat on opposite sides of a table each engrossed in their tasks and occasionally share a smile Little did I know it would be a great learning moment for me!
As we walked to the café, she kept guessing our destination and when we got there, she insisted how she had known in her heart and was sure that was where we would end up. I ordered for a cup of tea and thought she wouldn’t need anything since we had just had breakfast a short while before. To my surprise she ordered for a cup of drinking chocolate and a few slices of bread. She then told the waiter not to apply margarine for
her because they are not familiar with the exact amount she requires on her toast… too much and it might ruin her toast, too little and she will not enjoy.
She enjoyed herself greatly. We talked about everything possible and even promised each other to be back for a pool game. As we walked home, she held my hand and said, “Dad, I love you very much and thank you for spending time with me. Can I pray?” I answered, “Sure.” Her prayer went like this, “GOD I thank you for a good day” (Our 2 hours together seemed to have obliterated everything else that day) “I have had a lot of fun spending time with Dad. Please give us more days like this where we can spend time all of us together.”
Clearly, what I casually considered as a mundane time filling activity, turned out to be a very fulfilling experience burned in the core of her long-term memory.
That experience inspired me to share my lessons with all those raising girls and especially fathers.
Transition from muscle and guns to wisdom and knowledge
I am from the school of thought that with the first boy who will ever wink at my daughter will trigger a re-enactment of Bad Boys 2 (the movie) in a scene where the boy is scared into ever breaking her heart. However, there is a TEACHER who has been walking with me and helping me in my fatherhood journey and I have learnt that it is far better to protect my daughter with knowledge and wisdom than with muscle and guns. Arm her with the knowledge about who she is, the great potential within her and the power of consent or free will and its great potential to make or break.
Teacher no. 1
I belong to a generation of children in Kenya who were referred to as the Nyayo era kids. In this era, we had a
single political party and anything to the contrary could easily spell the word treason. So in an effort to mollycoddle the president, he was known as farmer no. 1, doctor no. 1, teacher no. 1 etc… With the current generation, a parent is a child’s teacher no. 1. Do not cede this power to the school, television, movies, friends, or the internet. Even when you don’t know the answers learn with her. Be the first teacher….. Be her first teacher.
Hold her hand
There will be many times your girl will hear that she can’t do something because she is a girl either because girls are not that strong or girls don’t act like that. Do not be part of that chorus. Hold her hand, support her and encourage her, “If that’s what you want to do, I am standing here by you and will walk with you through it”. Life is not a he/she or we/ them contest. Male or female, everyone is credited with 86,400 seconds every day. How you choose to invest that time should not always be gender inspired. I have and continue to hold my daughter’s hand, talking to her about her divine identity and her tremendous potential while not forgetting to play recklessly. It does help also to have some female role models.
We are not raising or educating our children to better their employment chances in the white collar companies at business parks in the city; we are principle trainers preparing them for the challenges of the future and for such, being a present parent is the only option. In the world of tomorrow there are no failures. Re-define the word failure as an opportunity to develop a solution from a different approach.
This calls for fathers to change the way we think. However even as we build confidence and boldness in these girls let us be careful to remind them to expect opposition in life. It is the best training you can give in a generation rife with cynicism or a crab mentality.
I speak, not as one who has it all together, but one who has taken the humble road of learning with childlikeness as a foundation. @watens