Fatherhood taught me no two individuals are the same – Ajibade, SAN

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In this interview with OLADIMEJI RAMON, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Babatunde Ajibade, shares his experience as a father

How did you feel when your wife told you she was pregnant with your first child?

I was elated naturally, but there was also some trepidation, given that I was still a student at the time, with no independent means of livelihood.

At what age did you have your first child?

I was 28 years old when we had our first child.

Men are sometimes confronted with unusual requests by their pregnant wives. Did you have any such experience and how did you handle it?

Oh yes, I did. Women develop all sorts of cravings when they are pregnant and my wife was no exception. She would request for a particular type of cake and custard in the wee hours of the morning. I handled it as best as I could, by getting dressed and getting her what she wanted.

Were you particular about the sex of your first child and did you know the baby’s sex before it was born?

I wanted a boy and was delighted that our first child was a boy. We did not know before he was born. We wanted the suspense.

Did you join your wife in shopping for the coming baby?

I don’t have any clear recollection of that now, but I’m sure I must have done so.

Can you describe how you felt the moment you first set eyes on your first child?

It was a humbling and miraculous experience. I was full of awe and gratitude to God.

After your wife had your first child, did you undertake any unusual domestic chore or did something that you would not normally do, as a way of pampering your wife?

Naturally. I did the dishes, cooked and cleaned and pampered her very much. She could do no wrong, at least for a while.

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Can you compare your feeling and experience when you had your first child with how you felt and what you did when you had your three other children?

Well, the experience with each of our children was different. There was a six-year gap between our first and second children, so the expectation and prayers that preceded the birth of our second son was very high. After that, our third and fourth children came in quick succession, by which time we had become experts in the business. But the common thread with all of them was a feeling of joy and thankfulness to God for His grace and mercy.

How did you arrive at the names you gave your children?

Our first son is named after my grandfather, the late Egbedi of Ado-Ekiti, Chief Joshua Ojo Ajibade. My wife wanted to name him Joshua and I would have resisted, but for the fact that this was my grandfather’s name and I am named Babatunde because I was the first grandson born into the family after his demise in 1965. Joshua’s other name, Oluwakayode, resonates with the joy we felt at his birth, and this theme of joy is common to the names of all our children, Iretidayo, Motunrayo and Ayotunde.

What influenced the number of children that you have?

I come from a family of four children and I had always wanted to have four children too.

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Was there something that becoming a father changed about you?

A lot. Becoming a father made me more focused and responsible to a degree that was not the case up until that point. I have had several degrees of refinement since then, but that was certainly a distinct watershed in my life.

Are there traits that your children took from you?

Yes, there are, but these traits are all different.  It (fatherhood) has given me a completely different understanding of the complexities of genetics and the fact that no two individuals are the same.

Is there any of these traits that you wish they never took?

Definitely! There are a few traits or habits I had when I was younger which some of my children manifest that I wish they didn’t. However, as I have outgrown those traits, I am reasonably confident that they will outgrow them too.

What is your method of disciplining your children?

Now, by word of mouth and stern admonition. In the early days of fatherhood, I applied corporal punishment but my children are too old for that now in my view and I had abandoned that method even before they became that old.

Did you have any anxiety when your female children were leaving home for school as teenagers?

I have only one daughter and I did not have any anxiety when she went to school. Being the only girl, she is a bit of a tomboy, anyway, and can stand her ground.

What about the males?

I had no concerns about them starting school.  As was the case with me when I was their age, school was a great place to be, to learn, but also to have fun and enjoy yourself with your mates.

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Did you have any influence on their career path choices?

No, I did not. My advice to each of them was/is that they should identify what they enjoy doing and will derive job satisfaction and fulfillment from.

Do you have family values?

Yes, we do. Our family values are honesty and integrity, humility and most importantly, a belief in the saving grace of God.

What will people never catch any of your children doing?

Being dishonest.

Given your experience, what advice do you have for intending fathers?

Try to lead by example. Children are more influenced by what you do than by what you say.

How frequently do you and your children talk?

Not as frequently as I’d like. I live a very busy life and rarely have a lot of time to spare. However, I speak with my children as often as possible, within these parameters.

Is there any difference or similarity between how you were raised and the way you are raising your children?

Yes, there are. The family values that guided my upbringing are the same values that have guided the way I have brought up my children.

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