A former National Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Kunle Edun, tells TOBI AWORINDE about his experience as a father
What is fatherhood to you?
Fatherhood entails a lot of things. It entails the realisation of the fact that you have a responsibility to some persons – your children. It entails more maturity in handling matters and showing love as a way of exemplifying humanity.
When did you decide to become a father?
Fatherhood beckoned upon me after I became a lawyer and was called to the Bar; I had started working and could afford the basic necessities of life.
When did you have your first child?
It was in my early 30s.
Can you share your experience of becoming a first-time father and how it prepared you for the subsequent ones?
It was a wonderful experience seeing your own flesh and blood. The instant spiritual connection was there. It was joy unspeakable. Of course, I had the same feeling for my kids that came subsequently. It is the Lord’s blessing to be a father of beautiful children.
Did you have any fears or worries before becoming a father?
I don’t think so. I think I was prepared for it; I was staying in a good apartment and earning reasonably well as a litigation lawyer. I already had two cars then. So, the good Lord prepared me for fatherhood.
Were you particular about the gender of your first child?
I will shock you and I hope men will forgive me. I actually prayed for a girl as my first child and God did it for me. God did not stop there; He tripled my request and gave me additional beautiful girls. So, women have dominated my world, but there is a prince in the house to cap it all.
Before the birth of your son, did you have to deal with pressure from society to have a male?
Let me not lie to you, the pressure was much. However, I was able to use the negative pressure as an opportunity to let people know that whether male or female, the making of a child’s great future is dependent on a lot of factors. There is no study done to show that male children do better than female children. So, the discrimination against the girl child is a cultural relic that should no longer have any place in a civilised society. As God would have it, the king finally came as the fourth child.
In a world where gender norms are changing constantly, what are some of the lessons you are teaching your children about their roles in the home and in society?
There is no discrimination in my house. No particular domestic chore is reserved for any particular gender. Though the boy is still little, he will certainly have his time in the kitchen too. I want my boy to let his wife know that he too can cook, and even better.
Did you look up to anyone for guidance as a new father?
I can’t really say if I looked up to any particular person for guidance. What I did was that I tried to learn from the mistakes of others. You know that marriage is a school that no one ever graduates from. So, one learns every day. My wife and I resolve misunderstandings at home and avoid bringing in third parties. Issues will come up; let no one lie to you. It is the maturity that one employs in resolving the issue that sustains the marriage. I’m still a student in the marriage school.
How did you assist your wife during and after her pregnancies, particularly in the third trimester and in the first few months of being a mother?
The nature of my work does not give me the liberty of being at home all the time. To cater for these emergency periods, I had to prepare and get everything needed far ahead. We are subscribed to a health insurance, so medical bills will never be a problem. We had persons staying with us during the period. Actually, that is the period that my house is most populated by relations, as everyone looked forward to the new arrival.
What has fatherhood changed about you?
One needs to set a good example for the kids. Old things have passed away and all things have become new.
What are the values you learnt from your father that have helped you as a dad?
My father prayed a lot. He was a very honest man and loved helping the needy. This is what I continue to inculcate into my kids by visiting orphanages and showing love to the underprivileged at all times. I try to let them understand that everything they get must be on merit and they must work hard to be successful in life.
How has fatherhood impacted you in accomplishing your career goals?
Fatherhood is an experience. It helps a lot in the way I handle matters that are sensitive and have to do with emotions, like divorce proceedings, child welfare and rape. My experience as a father helps in navigating through such sensitive matters.
What has fatherhood stopped you from doing?
I don’t indulge in night outings. My priority is my immediate family.
Do you do any domestic chores as a father?
I bathe my boy who is about two. At times, I cook in the kitchen. I cooked during my university days, so I still have some culinary skills.
How do you spend time with your children?
One should always have quality time with his children. I create time for them, check their homework and take the family out.
Are any of your kids following in your footsteps in terms of their careers?
I pray that at least one will be a lawyer. I can’t force them but I will certainly guide them on their career path by exposing them to what the legal profession has to offer. The eldest wants to and I am encouraging her. Her immediate younger sister is interested in the sciences.
How do you discipline your children?
I withhold the allowances of the older ones or give them some house chores to do, while I indulge others in gifts. I could forbid the young offender from watching her favourite programmes on TV for a week. Depending on the offence, the punishment varies.
What was the biggest challenge for you to overcome as a father?
The teenage years were a challenge. It is not a joke, particularly when you have three beautiful girls in your house. With God’s guidance, my kids have been of good character. It is the morals they are taught that will guide them into adulthood. I try to let them know that they are free to discuss any issue with their mother and me. This is to avoid getting wrong advice from evil souls or falling under negative peer influence.
In your opinion, what are some of the misconceptions about fatherhood?
I know of no misconceptions about fatherhood. It is a wonderful experience.
What do you teach your kids about moral values?
A society built on good morals will prosper. However, the family unit is the cradle of morals. We must get it right from the family first. I make my kids understand that good character yields good dividends.
What are some of the lessons you learnt as a father over the years?
That your life no longer belongs to you and that for every decision or action you take, you should always consider that there are persons that will be affected. Spending time with the family is cool. I wasn’t much into negative stuff during my bachelor days, so I remained my cool and gentle self.
How do you select schools for your children?
I consider security and quality teaching in choosing schools for my kids. Education is key, so the best is what I go for. I don’t compromise on quality.
Have you got to the phase of preparing your children for important skills like driving and financial responsibility?
My eldest child is less than 15 and I can tell you that I have taught them something special. I make them understand that university education is important but that they need to learn other skills in addition. During their vacation, I put them in sewing institutes. My two girls can sew very well. They have a sewing machine at home. The only thing is that they are cheating me, as they only sew for themselves and their mother. The other one is going to a clinic to learn when she is on vacation. Of course, any money they earn belongs to them, but I advise them on how to save and use the money to buy working tools. So far, so good.
Do you have much influence on the friends your children keep?
Yes, indeed! It is important that one knows the company one’s child keeps. I encourage them to bring the good friends home; that way, you get to know their thoughts and orientation and advise them appropriately.
How do you spend quality time with your children?
We go on outings usually after church service (on Sunday). The tense security situation in the country has discouraged planned family outings. I go through their homework too.
When the time comes, what would be your expectations of the individuals your children choose as their life partners?
I cannot choose a life partner for them. I only pray that God will give each of them partners that they will cherish and live peacefully together forever with. I am not tribalistic. I am a Yoruba man from Ogun State. My mother was an Urhobo woman from Delta State. I lived most of my life in Warri. My wife is Delta-Igbo. If my kids decide to expand the tribal frontiers, I can only wish them the best. We are all one in humanity.
What are your most cherished memories as a father?
The first is when I became a father. It is spiritual. It automatically changes something in you. It teaches you that you are no longer alone; you have a blood line. Fatherhood is a wonderful experience.
What legacy do you want to leave for your children?
That I came to the world with nothing but used my talent to serve humanity, to fight for societal good and for the benefit of mankind. That is the best legacy anyone can leave, serving humanity. That way, my children will understand that the world can be a better place if we think of each other as brothers and sisters. If we do, a politician will not steal from the public purse money that is meant for building hospitals or for constructing roads or schools for the children of the masses.
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