Founder, Ibadan Business School, Olayinka Fasuyi, tells PUNCH about his fatherhood experiences.
What is your definition of fatherhood?
Fatherhood comes with responsibilities to raise, support and develop the entire members of the family.
In addition to that, fatherhood implies that there must be communication and understanding within the family system in such a way that the goal and aspiration of one member of the family becomes the goal and aspiration of all members of the family.
Fatherhood is also premised on good care and loving relationship with all members of the family. In putting this to practice, it is essential for the father to identify the developmental needs of every member of the family with a view to making provision for them.
Developmental needs start from the common basic things of life like food, accommodation, clothing and so on. At another level, the needs include education, moral training, knowledge acquisition, which the father has the responsibility of providing for every member of the family.
The family has the responsibility of monitoring the transition of the children from teenage to adolescence and adult had to ensure that the transition periods go well.
One does not necessarily need to impose one’s wish on the children at all times but if one exposes them to the implication of every decision or step taken, one can provide the needed guide which will benefit the future of the children.
How does your work interfere with fatherhood?
Interestingly, being a management consultant, I possess a rare privilege of observing the lives of many people at a close range. I share this experience with my children always.
I tell them that if one looks at any society in any part of the world, one will observe that there are some families that command respect in terms of influence, wealth, network, inheritance and so on. These families live big but in most cases, their children do not find it easy to manage or sustain the popularity and wealth that their parents leave behind.
When one talks about fatherhood, it is an area that every parent has the moral obligation to look into. I am not saying that they should starve their children of basic material needs but they should make them work for their own greatness so that they can appreciate the beauty and dignity of labour.
When my children were young, I would give them transport fares instead of spoiling them by asking the driver to take them around. One of my daughters was one day pushed out of a moving vehicle by robbers. It is not as if one is wicked but it is important to let children appreciate life and all it entails to grow.
We have a lot of wealthy parents with many cars who suddenly go bankrupt. If the children had been pampered, they would find survival difficult. These are lessons of life that fathers must strive to give their children because of the future.
What were your fears before you became a husband?
I got married a bit late. My wife is Dr Olubisi Fasuyi, a development communications specialist. As a bachelor, one has the opportunity of seeing it all. It is like a situation where one eats five pieces of meat during every meal and suddenly the portion reduces to one. Part of our value system is that when a man gets to a certain age, he must get married or people will start expressing negative perceptions about his ability to father a child or perform his duties to his wife.
Early in my marital life, I realised that the period of courtship was different from the time when a man and his wife begin to live together. There are many fake things about both the man and the woman before they get married, but these will be exposed when they begin to live together.
When did you become a father?
I became a father on October 22, 1990.
Was there a particular gender you favoured before the birth of your first child?
My prayers go to those who are still praying to God for the fruit of the womb. I know that it is not easy because, in this part of the world, there is a lot of pressure on the wife and even the husband when they are not blessed with children early enough after marriage.
If one considers that, it is always a great day when parents welcome their first child to the world. For God to open the womb of my wife to be delivered of a baby, that was enough joy for me.
My first child is a girl but in discussing the gender of one’s child as an African person, one will fall into the trap of male preference. In my case, I noticed that after two daughters, my wife craved for a male child. With technology, one does not have to wait until the day of delivery to know the sex of one’s child.
When my wife was told that she would be having a male child after a scan, she called me and started shouting, ‘it’s a boy’ on the telephone. She was ecstatic. That tells you the importance that Africans attach to the male child.
It is good to have male and female children but experience has shown that the prayer should be that God gives us good children that will bring blessings to the home and keep the good name of the house. If one has a male child that brings embarrassment, one will regret asking God to give one such a child. I have three girls and a boy.
What do you do to help your wife at home when the children are not there?
I do not enter the kitchen or wash clothes. But I do assist outside those areas. We have always been privileged to have support hands that can handle with house chores. The amount of time one spends helping one’s wife in the kitchen is not the measure of love one has for her. I assist where I have the comparative advantage and she appreciates that than competing for a role in the kitchen.
As your family grew in number, what were the challenges you faced?
What I have experienced in marital life is that women tend to shift attention from the husband to the children as soon as they begin to have them. Many homes are separated today because of the poor management of the home when the families expand. The food begins to get ready late while the wife claims she has been busy taking care of the children. The more children one has, the more gap is created between the parents which the children fill.
The situation often leads to the father staying out late. We should learn to tolerate changes that emerge when the children begin to come because it is the most challenging aspect of parenting and family upkeep.
Is the gap you talk which exists between a wife and her husband permanent once the children start coming and can it be bridged?
The space in the middle is created by the children and when they begin to vacate it, father and mother come together again.
The children get older and begin to get married and start their own homes, leaving their parents. At that time, there is no one to distract the wife’s attention so she concentrates on her husband. That is when the gap vanishes.
Were you jealous of your children at the stage when the gap was created in your home?
One will not be a human being if one does not feel jealous. Some of those things one feels from one’s wife are now taken over by someone else. Even though they are one’s children, one will be jealous. But in showing understanding, one just tries to ignore it and play one’s role as a father. If one is not jealous, it means one does not love one’s wife.
What are the usual challenges of parenthood you have experienced?
In my own case, I have been lucky because my wife assisted by withdrawing from all activities to support the family in nurturing the children. We agreed to divide the roles. She took care of the home while I took care of the business. It yielded good result because we got the best out of the children.
Have you had cause to flog any of your children?
There are sometimes when one only rebukes an erring child but there are some that come with flogging. One or two of my children had the experience once or twice. One of my daughters once came back with a poor result and I was annoyed when I considered all the facilities she was exposed to. Flogging changed her attitude to learning.
Do you take the time to check their mobile telephones and computers to know what kind of friends they keep?
My first three children are girls. I often discuss that with my wife so she takes care of that area better than I do. She is a woman and closer to the girls. In any case, they are adults now so they can take care of themselves.
Did you discuss the number of children you would have with your wife?
There was nothing like pre-discussion before we started having babies. My father had 26 children from four wives. I have four children from only one wife. I give glory to God for that.
For me, three children would have been ideal. In this age, parents must save as much as possible to enjoy themselves. Part of my social hubby is travelling. The habit costs a fortune. I have travelled to 60 countries so far. If one does not check the number of children one is raising, training them will consume all the money one has. Every child is an investment.
Did you always follow your wife to the hospital each time she was to be delivered of a baby?
I was not around when she was delivered of our first daughter. There was no mobile telephone then so I could not sleep in Minna, Niger State, where I travelled to. I joined her the following morning. But I witnessed the birth of our other children.