In Summary

  • The average Kenyan father does not see childcare as a responsibility that he should share equally with his partner. He sees it as a woman’s thing.
  • He sees it as something that he should just contribute to, not something that is his responsibility.
  • That is why he will expect to be heaped with praises because he took his son swimming or because he combed his daughter’s hair.

Mother’s Day, celebrated on May 14, clearly rubbed some men the wrong way. They felt that the annual fuss is just one more way that society is favouring women and excluding men. The nerve! Especially given the fact that most of those who were complaining did not even know which day or month Father’s Day falls!  I will tell you why I personally will not make a fuss come Father’s Day on June 18. No, it isn’t because I think mothers are more important than fathers. Of course fathers have a vital role in society. I don’t, however, care for Father’s Day, because I think fatherhood is a verb and the average Kenyan father hasn’t grasped this concept. The question isn’t the importance of a father’s role but whether this role is being played as it should be.

EMBRACED FATHERHOOD DUTIES

To be fair, there are fathers out here who have embraced their fatherhood duties, men who are present and active in their children’s lives even when they are not married to their mothers. But these men are the exception.

The average Kenyan father is a social media Dad. You know, that man who is always on Facebook or Twitter posting pictures of himself and his child, pictures that are clearly stage-managed. And if he is good at it, his followers, women especially, will respond with a lot of ‘Aaawwwws…’and praises telling him how good a father he is.

The average Kenyan father does not see childcare as a responsibility that he should share equally with his partner. He sees it as a woman’s thing. He sees it as something that he should just contribute to, not something that is his responsibility. That is why he will expect to be heaped with praises because he took his son swimming or because he combed his daughter’s hair. That is why, when he is the only one at the play park, he will think of it as an achievement. That is why he refers to it as babysitting. The average Kenyan father guilt-trips his wife should she miss a school event or want to go back to work ‘too soon’ after delivery because childcare is her duty and she should stay home with the baby.

I refuse to make a fuss about Father’s Day because I am afraid that if I do, then I will just be reinforcing this belief that childcare is a woman’s job. I refuse to reward someone for doing what they should be doing. We can all participate by not getting floored the next time you see a man feeding his child or changing diapers, the next time you see a man being a sufficient father.

If he is an exceptional father, if he goes above and beyond, then we will celebrate him. But if a man is doing his fatherhood duties, then let’s not create a fuss about it. Fatherhood is after all, a doing word.

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