Quarantine, curfew conspire to bring daddy home…

Wednesday, April 29th, 2020 00:00 |
Kevin Paul Omondi and his daughter Kiki. Photo/PD/COURTESY

A recent meme in which a child asked his mum whether daddy had started living with them may have left many in stitches. But sadly, that has been the situation in many families where fathers are rarely seen. Enter corona and now we have a new normal.

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

It is largely held that mothers spend a lot of time with their children and are seen to be more nurturing compared to fathers.

Gender roles in the African context have also to a great extent been informed by culture and societal expectations.

Women are perceived to be the homemakers and as a result many spend a lot of time at home with their children. 

Further, in instances where mothers work fulltime, studies show they tend to multitask more and still get more involved with their children compared to men.

While mother and child bonding is important, father-child bonding is equally essential and profoundly influences their lives. 

With the government directive for people to work from home and the 7pm-5am curfew, families are now spending a lot of time together indoors.

According to Beata Mbula, a mother of two, this quarantine has been happily received in her home. 

“We didn’t do much together. I remember my husband, Abel Moriasi would make so much noise when he found dishes undone in the sink.

This quarantine is allowing him to see that as a stay-at-home mother, I just have a lot to do all alone apart from cooking for the family and taking care of the baby.

Much better, he is bonding well with the children and they are happy that he is available,” shares Beata. 

Win-win situation

Her husband now is noticing things such as the children’s favourite meals and their little daughter’s sleeping routine. There is so much fun in the house. He even helps with house chores.

Tracy Nyaguthii, a psychologist, says family-bonding time should be spent meaningfully.

In families in which members have taken deliberate steps to bond, studies show children’s confidence is built and behavioural problems decrease.

It lowers stress hormones, cortisol while releasing feel good hormones, oxytocin and also enables children to make healthy choices.

In addition, experts say that men are rougher and tumble with their children during play and this encourages risk-taking behaviour.

“In families where fathers bond well with their children through active engagement, children feel safe, are building more trust, are happy, lasting father child friendships are being created, children are taking more risks, better school performance will be observed and children are picking up new life-skills.

On the other hand for fathers, it increases the feel good hormones while playing and interacting with their children.

This enables them to be more productive in their work, sleep better, and they get to know themselves better, might pick up a new hobby and will get to interact with their children in their different milestones.

Moreover, studies indicate a more involved father creates a happy home,” says Nyaguthii.

“However, there is an exemption in families where the father takes authoritarian parenting style.

Where children are supposed to obey without question and punishments and threats are the rule of the day, with little warmth from the father.

In such cases, children are not happy with their father always in the house. Children in such households will report a high level of stress symptoms such as headaches, acidity, low mood and lack of motivation to engage in daily tasks, in the worst-case scenario, depression.

The authoritarian parenting creates a feeling of inadequacy in a child from the criticism and harshness of a father, bringing about low self-esteem, behavioural problems, lack of creativity, anxiety, children become hostile and poor academic performance,” she adds. 

Bonding time

For Kelvin Paul Omondi, curfew directive has offered so much time with his 10 months-old daughter, despite the fact that he works with security and has to go out for patrols at night.

“I’m always at home by 7am sometimes earlier. And Kiki, my daughter is her daddy’s favourite.

In fact, when I come back, she reports everyone who crossed her path, saying “huyu”.

If I want a drink, I take my whiskey and enjoy it when we are relaxing at home or watching TV with my family.

I am happy to see my daughter play around and make all the noises in the house.

The challenge so far is masks and gloves, which she is scared of. Every time she sees me in them, she cries,” says Kelvin.

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