We read this interview of Chidi Odinkalu on the Punch website and we absolutely had to share! In case you didn’t know, Chidi Odinkalu is an Abuja-based human rights lawyer. In the interview with Punch newspaper, he talks about being a father, and the structures he has in place – in his house.
We hardly ever see the position of Nigerian fathers with regards raising children – especially female kids, so this one really caught our attention.
He makes a number of interesting points in the interview, but we’ve extracted the bits we found most interesting – for your discussion pleasure.
On what his kids call non-biological ‘aunts and uncles’
“For instance, my children don’t call anyone “auntie” or “uncle.” In our house, everyone has a name and when they meet you, they will find out your name and you will be called by Mr. or Mrs. or Dr. or Chief your name but not “uncle” or “auntie” etc. There is a good reason for that. A lot of child abuse is done by “uncles” and “aunties”; by people who are insinuated into the lives of the children through titles that import authority and familiarity but who should not be in those positions. In my own life also, I have come to the conclusion you can’t hold anyone accountable whom you cannot call by their name. “Uncle” is not a name, it is an institution. The burden of holding an institution accountable for abusing you is too much for a child to bear.”
On sending children on errands
“I remember when my daughter was seven, my perfectly healthy sister-in-law came to the house, finished eating, sat down and asked her to go take down the plates. My daughter quietly told her to please take her dishes down to the kitchen and wash up and that her dad had warned her against child abuse. I sat quietly through it. My sister-in-law knew better than ask me. The following morning, my sister-in-law left the house. Children deserve respect and a voice. We can’t reduce them to fetching and carrying merely to satisfy the vanities of adults.”
On speaking to his children about sex education
“Daddying up a daughter is a fascinating experience. In my house, it was my place to explain to my daughter what a period was and to prepare her for it. Her mum was like: no one prepared me for it but my view was, well, that was then. So she said: ‘okay then you go do it.’ We worked out a way to do it. With our son, his mother taught him how to use a condom. For us, sex education is central to living a healthy life and also to being truthful with your children. ”
What do you think about this style of parenting? How do you run things in your own household? What would you do differently, seeing this perspective.