I grew up in one of those African homes with strong cultural inclinations. Though my dad was a clergyman, he still adopted the traditional way of training his kids. There were things that we were not expected to do or say. We were restricted to go to certain places. Needless to say, our choices were controlled.
Being the only boy in the midst of four female siblings, one would expect I enjoy certain privileges. But, my dad wasn’t going to trade my “bright future” for some temporal slack. He treated me like every other kid that had other male siblings.
If you are very conversant with the African culture, you would know that parents have a certain way they treat you if you are either an only child or the only offspring of a particular gender. Kids who fall into any of these categories get pampered and overly protected. The parents wouldn’t want to do anything that would hurt them. This they do for fear of losing them.
I was one of such kids. But, I never got the “pamper” treatment. My dad was a hard-core disciplinarian. He was one of the few parents that disregarded the myth that “an only child” should enjoy certain preferences. So, I lost those privileges.
I got thrashed. I got a kick in the butt. I got grounded. I experienced every disciplinary measure as every other kid.
Nothing went past my dad. If he came back from work and someone entered his room, he knew. His sense of organization was impeccable. He knew where he kept his tie clip from two Sundays ago. He was that detailed.
So he established this personality that gets you whimpering if you ever messed up.
My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t as hard as my dad. She had her way of getting us to behave orderly. One of her ever effective weapons was “wait until your father gets home”. That statement always sent cold shivers down our spines. Nobody wanted to get punished by my dad.
I remember one day I decided to get naughty. I put on a TV channel that I was barred from watching except my dad was around. I was about 12. That day, there was a documentary going on how men can prevent premature ejaculation. I was intrigued because at that time I was beginning to feel my manliness evolve.
I was so engrossed in the TV show that I didn’t notice my mum standing behind me. She had been standing there a couple of minutes and I was totally oblivious of her presence. She stood there until the documentary was over. Just when I turned to take a stretch, there she was standing behind me.
I was expecting her to spank me – at least, it would have been bearable. She made the dreaded statement; “wait until your father gets home”. The rest is history.
I have had to look back and reflect on what this did to me. I became scared of doing certain things. I couldn’t express myself to my utmost because I dreaded being reported to Daddy when he got home.
Now, the responsibility of fatherhood has fallen on me. I wish to change the narrative. However, I still find myself subtly creating that atmosphere.
I want my kids to explore. I want them to learn – especially from their mistakes. I want them to be proud and expectant of my coming home. It’s a lot of work but I’m sure going to be fine.
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