WHAT I AM ABOUT to share may seem strange to you. When my wife first told me, it seemed strange to me as well.
She first shared this information with me back in 2011 and after hearing it, it made me feel very uncomfortable. At that time, I was more concerned with how the information made me feel, rather than the value in it. After four years of constant reflection and hearing my wife consistently repeat it, I fully accepted what she said and now I have owned it.
As parents, when our children misbehave or step out of line, it is so easy for us to lose our cool or become frustrated and even angry. To manage the situation, we become loud and aggressive with them. As a father or, should I say, as dads, we use our size, strength and voices to influence our children to do what is right. Sadly, many of us influence through the use of fear and coercion, rather than leadership and love.
In 2011, when our first daughter was born, my wife said to me: “Corey, you must be very wise and careful how you speak and treat our daughter, because you are her first boyfriend. Whatever you do and whatever example you set throughout her life, will inform her decisions in choosing a husband and what is acceptable and unacceptable treatment for her.”
Let me tell yuh, that being her first boyfriend hit me like a boulder and was too much for me to take in. When our second daughter arrived, my wife was singing the refrain even more.
How many times have we heard girls say: “Who you shouting at? My fadda don’t shout at me”, “My fadda don’t hit me”, “My daddy does this or that”, “I am going to tell my daddy on you”, “My daddy got one uh dem too”. There is a very special and delicate connection between a girl and her father and as a result, we fathers have a huge responsibility in the way we treat, speak, care for and the examples we set for our little princesses.
If you agree with what I have said so far, it means that we as husbands must be also wise and careful how we treat our wives because our examples will inform our daughters what is acceptable behaviour for a wife and our sons, and how a man treats a woman and wife.
This may be heavy information for those living together, have children and aren’t married. “Shacking up” or “common law marriage” has become an acceptable societal practice. So much so that the Christian community has become silent, accepting and being tolerant to it, and many young people now see marriage as pointless. The world we live in isn’t ideal or perfect but there is no denying that shacking up and common law marriage is fornication.
Children mimic what they see and the vocabulary, values and behaviours they practise are generally learnt first from their parents and guardians. As parents, especially fathers, we must look at our lives, behaviour, speech, dress and attitudes and ask ourselves: “Is this what I want my daughter to imitate?” If your answer is no, then I hope you would be encouraged to make the necessary changes as they won’t only benefit her but you as well.
Information obtained from Focus On The Family states: “Girls with involved, married fathers are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex.” It also stated that fathers prepare children for the real world because they stress “justice, fairness and duty, based on rules, whereas mothers stress sympathy, care and help, based on relationships”.
Children need balance and as a result, need the involvement of both mummy and daddy. The modern world teaches that parents are parents and if a child has two parents, it doesn’t matter whether or not they are married. Research has shown this philosophy to be false. Statistics have proven that children who live with married parents tend to be more stable and better behaved, more successful at school, in life and in their own marriages.
To the mothers who have pushed fathers away and lied on them to their children, and the fathers who refuse be a man and support, provide and care for their children, make wrong things right.
So fathers, what type of “boyfriend” are you?
• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youth ambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc., a project-based NGO focusing on social development.