The Model Father; Breaking Gender Norms

Fathers should learn to break gender norms and regard parenting as a shared responsibility. Our Skilful parenting training helps fathers understand that a healthy parenting is one in which fathers and mothers both play active roles in shaping their children’s life. In this case, a father’s role is not limited to being a breadwinner for the family but one whose involvement in parenting can greatly influence children’s behavioral, emotional, social and cognitive development. As we celebrate the Father’s day 2019, we recognise Philip; a model father from Nango Village in Siaya County- Kenya for his presence and active involvement in parenting.

Left with the responsibility of raising his children single handedly after domestic challenges forced him to separate with his wife, Philip was determined to give his children the best direction but did not know how to fulfill his parenting role. He heard about DREAMS core and chose to enroll his daughters into the program with an aim of having the school fees of his daughters paid-off. Philip had an internal push to always be present for his children and to learn his roles in helping his children develop to their full potential. As a result, he chose to enroll in our NITUNZE project for Skilful Parenting. For him, it was a chance to know more about the needs and challenges that his daughters could face and how best he could respond to them.

Philip and his daughter in the family greenhouse 
Philip and his daughter in the family greenhouse 

As the sole caregiver to his daughters, Philip was fully responsible for the children’s personal needs such as providing them with sanitary towels. This was an uphill task to him before he attended skillful parenting training but a lot seems to have changed. He says that his daughters would ask him for check check” (coded language to mean sanitary towels) so he would buy and place them somewhere they can access. During the training, Philip also learnt about family budgeting, and prioritizing what to buy at a given time in order to fulfill the family needs. As a result, started involving his family in the budgeting process. Phillip says that the training was also a great opportunity to interact with other parents. He uses his experience to encourage other fathers to participate in parenting. As a result, the fathers have appreciated the need to create a bond with their children and to provide sanitary towels for their daughters.

‘‘During this training, I  learnt the importance of building a relationship based on trust with my children. I also learnt child rights and my responsibilities as a parent. I got to understand that violating children’s rights is a major reason why  they run away from home and get exposed to several  risks”.

In one of the trainings, Philip decided to join a farmer group to try farming. He was trained on agronomy and he decided to give it a try. He received vegetable seeds which he planted in his green house. He sells the vegetable and is able to make ends meet from the proceeds. Besides, he is currently in talks with his wife who now sends him money as a way of helping with the children’s school fees.

‘‘Most fathers distance themselves  from their daughters. Many regard provision of guidance to  daughters as a mother affair as fathers take care of their boys. In the fatherhood parleys that we attended, fathers learnt the challenges an adolescent girl can face, such as early pregnancy, STIs, and HIV among others and how best to protect them.’’

Philip is glad that as a result of the skillful parenting training, he has learnt how to take care of his children, how to understand and provide for their needs. He also learnt how to communicate with his wife and they are currently planning to re-unite and raise their family together. He is so happy and grateful that the project transformed his life, his family and the community’s perception about parenting.