By Kingsley Obom-Egbulem
Ahead of father's day this year, I decided to speak with some fathers of daughters as part of a book a I was writing. One of the men I spoke with was one of Nigeria's leading motivational speaker, pastor and presenter of a popular weekend TV programme. We spoke about growing up and fatherhood challenges in Africa. Then I posed this question to him.
"Do you think your daughters would wish to marry a man like you?".He paused for a while, smiled and said; "I think so". Of course, I wanted him to justify his response. "Wao...that's a tall one ", he said and went on to respond in a most candid manner.
"I think I have done my best to show them love openly and I have tried to live and exemplify all the principles and values I have taught them, I have been their friend, mentor, lover and father. I want to believe they see me as their role model and would wish for a man like me for a husband."
I have always held the view that one of the indicators for measuring your success as a husband or father is when your daughters(or even your sisters) silently wish and pray to marry a man just like you. And don't be fooled to believe that this is a mean feat you can achieve by just wishing for it. It is hard work.
I realized that it is one thing for the women in your life to love and respect you. But it is another thing for them to dream and pray to have husbands just like you. It’s a tall order. Indeed, most girls love their fathers but very few of them would wish to ever have a husband like their father .
The gap between these two realities can only be better appreciated when you engage some of today's ladies and teenage girls. Not many of them had what you could describe as a healthy relationship with their fathers. The only meeting point was when it comes to paying their school fees, buying their books ,sending money for up keep while in school.
I tried to buttress this fact during a chat with some of my colleagues and one of them was so blunt with her response. She is married today and seems her husband is about going the way of her father and she is really not leaving any stone unturned to correct what she thinks is a huge anomaly.
"Aside my wedding day, I can't remember my dad ever hugging me till this day, a peck was even too far. He didn't know jack about me, my blood group, genotype, when I started menstruating, he was only interested in my not coming home with a boy friend and not getting pregnant. But we couldn't stop having male friends because my dad could not fill the vacuum these boys were filling in terms of being there for us; it was not just about giving you money ,it was about a relationship with your father. I have two daughters and I've challenged my husband to step up and be their “lover, mentor and friend” and he is working hard at it."
We can start now to make amends. It is never too late to start again more positively to right the wrongs of the past. We can be our daughters friends and lovers. We can be that man they've always wished we were.