PAPA DON’T PREACH

Fathers, at times, can harbour very unrealistic dreams about their daughters. They can also be embarrassingly proud of the daughter’s accomplishments to a point of being naively certain that their will succeed.

If for example a man has a daughter he has named after his mother who was nurse, he might naturally expect his daughter to be like her grandmother, career wise. Until the young lady says that she wants to be a YouTube Queen. Or a Tik Tokker.

The same case applies to manners. Most fathers view their teenage daughters as innocent asexual virgins who know nothing about baby making.

Then one day, she bursts into the sitting room like a prima donna, a silver stud on her eyelids, earphones plugged deep into her ears.

With a sneer, she rolls her eyes at your love for that outdated Facebook thingy. Then she leaves you there watching news on telly, locks herself in her room then texts that heavily tattooed neighbourhood muchacho all night long.

Later, her mother summons you from your dreams, crosses her arms across her heaving chest then blurts out- Your daughter is paged. They always become our children when they go wrong.

Overnight, all your body hair will turn grey. By next morning you’ll be bald like an old owl. You will Google ‘What to do with a teenage pregnant daughter’. Kidogo kidogo, missus will tell you that she is in labour. Then it will be time to start the car and your journey to grand fatherhood. At 43.

One of the challenges of modern fatherhood is not lack of enough love for children, but too much love for them. Our daughters grow up being adoringly called ‘Princess, Ka-mum, Queen’ and all those syrupy names. When they go wrong, it’s their mum role to punish them. Dad can’t as much pinch his Princess(es)

Dad’s main role is to take daddy’s girls out for pizza and chips over the weekend where he sips his Guinness as they swim. Then one day the school Principal calls to say that your Form Two Princess has been caught with beer cans enough to keep a whole dorm high for a weekend. Or petrol that can burn up a small village.

There is this 80’s song by Madonna where a girl tells his father that she is pregnant. She asks his dad to be strong then assures him that she will keep the baby. Finally, she begs him ‘Papa don’t Preach’ which happens to be the title of song. The girl is telling his dad that he is already a grandfather and no amount of moralizing will help.

Whereas the dads of yesteryears were accused of being rolling stones who were never at home, modern dads are relatively more in touch with their families. In addition, years of subtle feminization have led to the rise of the metro-sexual dad who can’t cane his wayward boy or admonish his pouting daughter. The doting modern dad is faced with the dilemma of whether to cane now and be damned now or not to cane and be damned later.

The modern dad, mostly Generation X and Y may be techno-savvy and have all the apps to make life easier, but none for parenting. Despite all the strides already made in technology, parenting remains irredeemably old fashioned.

Unless young dads look backwards and customize that which worked with our parents for this age, they will always get it wrong.

We modern dads stand at cross roads. Most of us were brought up by puritanical parents who grew during the chaotic Mau Mau days and never spared the rod. Our tough fathers lorded over us like drill sergeants while our mothers whipped us into what we are today. We are the generation that should reimagine the old mores of parenting bestowed to us by our parents for the digital age children.

You cant give what you don’t have.Fathers need to be morally upright so as to bring morally upright girls.Above all,fathers need to be strong,so as to bring up strong daughters.These are insights gleaned from the wonderful book Strong Fathers Strong Daughters which every dad must have.

Unless we lead our daughters by the hand and the heart and instill in them timeless virtues now, we’ll have to preach to them someday. Then it’ll be too late.

Gilbert Mwangi

Creative writer,dreamer,and Drum Major for all things true.

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