Sunday 11 April 2021
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Tick tock, tick tock

Father holding son's hand
The ordeals of being male are surely of great complexity. Even the duties for which men are naturally tasked, the acts they are expected to perform with their eyes closed, literally, involve a battle before they can be voluntarily added to the Daddies Club. This has raised questions and concerns among many men, when to start, when to stop, whether to continue or maybe not to partake at all.  The struggle is real indeed! Whereas others have faced the odds without really planning for it, for instance, through ineffective contraception and other things that may lead to unplanned pregnancies. Most have actually had the time to decide when and with whom they intend to father children. This creates quite the dilemma of thought on the determining issues surrounding timing and environment of fatherhood. Is it age, wealth, health or even stability…? The question of when to be father resonates in the conversations of men young and old?  Some men are adamant they are not yet ‘ready’ to support a family, while others worry that their time is indeed ticking and need to make quick moves. The younger gents ponder on the need to attain academic accreditation or financial independence and the older folks too are surely having it tough with building even bigger families… recent examples of older newly-weds who have expressed the intention of growing their families are media giant Rupert Murdoch (85), former President and Diplomat Rupiah Banda (79) and former footballer born Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pele (75).


Deep pockets to start with…
The money factor appears to be one of the most important requirements in fathering a child. “Babies don’t use reusable nappies these days” joked Desmond Sibanda father of three who says that in his days – parents only bought baby pants once or twice because they could be washed and used again later. Raising a child in the 21st century proves a much greater burden than most would expect. “It takes real courage” he says to appear a good father.  As the protector of the family, the provision of basic amenities rests on the father, one has to be ready. A young man Terence Tafara became a father at the age of 18, still in Grade 12 and a dependant on his parents himself, he says it hit him like a rock what he had really gotten into.  Just before the child was born, the requirements of his soon coming status and responsibilities began to dawn on him. Terence said that “luckily for me, both my parents and hers came on board to help us out.” Prosper Magedza says that one “must be able to support the child financially because then you will have time to father the child spiritually and physically. Finance plays over 50% of a child’s well-being.”


Food for thought…
Whether religious or plain moral, most young men between 18 and 35 years argue that the teachings one receives from their father if present are vital. This includes basically, any male figure that plays a significant role in the upbringing of a child. They argue ones’ tendencies stem largely from their internalised pains and hurts that may have resulted from the absence or inability to play the role, of a father.  Seeing as quite a good number of gentlemen have grown up without a father up to mature stages, it is somewhat left to the fathers of today to change the status quo …”I just want to be there to teach my child what to and what not to do, I had to learn these things the hard way – even how to treat a lady came as a hard lesson for me” says Lewis Mukuma, a 25-year old prospective father.  Some men regard seriously the need for their names to be passed on. The symbolic legacy that it carries is one that they would very much like to supervise. This rests on the need to associate a given name with a particular positive face. Fifty-eight year old Webster Miyoba, whose youngest daughter is three years old, retorted the role of values in the upbringing of a child. For him, it takes a village to raise a child – not only their biological parents.


Run the physical mile…
With the younger compeers – the crossroads of whether or not to be a father at say, 18, are met with the uncompromisingly strong sensitization campaigns against HIV/Aids, risky sexual behaviours and the like. Resultantly, this is expected to trickle down and have a ripple effect on how young men especially (being the pursuers) handle their sexual tendencies.  Among the older folks, the main concern among men is whether their chances of passing on certain diseases to their offspring may increase with age. It is widely known that as men grow older they become more prone to certain prostate and genital infections and disease that they could have however easily fought off had they been younger. Men’s Guide Magazine reports that “Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50.  About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.” They add that “Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor.”
Also, with the stress of age come the varieties of blood pressures, respiratory infections and physical disorders which are quite likely to carry a generational tune to their carriers.

Wifey or Baby-Mama?
“One of my greatest fears is to have to put up with a woman that I wouldn’t want to raise my children – when she already is” said Daliso Mbewe. He emphasises the need for one to establish a strong relationship with their child’s mother for the sake of the child and the vitality of future planning. Similar words were echoed by quite a number of young men who seemed to express genuine concern of whom they choose for a partner.  Whereas one can quite easily have a baby, with whom they do it seems to be rimportant. Especially that “this generation does not really ‘enjoy the privilege’ of arranged marriages, the partners usually decide to fall in love with each other, and usually cope with each other’s misgivings” Daliso said. Men however, have emphasised, that who they chose to mother their children is very important, for religious compatibility reasons, cultural integration and of course, the factor of love.

So when is it best?
Overall, it appears the act of being a father is a decision that one must make yourself. The factors that come with 21st century fatherhood demand ones presence and availability, spiritually, economically, morally and in many other ways.  Whereas many have fathered children at fairly young ages, others still rather wait until their latter stages of life with a view to pass on economic empires to their progenies. It is really up to you to decide when ready. Fathering a child is more than extending your legacy or your surname. A child is a multi dimensional human being with needs, wants and someone you are responsible for.

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