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Ferdinand Adimefe: Daddy, Where Are You?



I walked into the classroom and there was only one dad sitting in the middle of 15 children. My son’s school had reached out to fathers some days before, asking us to come read to the kids on Thursday, as a prelude to Father’s day. But here we were; just two of us. I looked and was sure that this man was not the father of all fifteen children. Where are the other dads?

When you start the journey of fatherhood, you soon realize that anyone can be a father, but it takes much more effort to be a dad. Being a dad is more than just donating sperm. It is about being actively involved in their lives not just watching them grow; but shaping their values, imparting the right culture and helping them understand how to take on the world. Here is the inherent challenge of a modern world; our lives are designed around our careers or businesses, and (particularly men). Our noble desire to provide for our families can misguide us into thinking that once we provide for our families we have fulfilled our duties. Yes, as fathers, we have an unwritten contract with our children to secure for them the very best of everything we can. But our role as fathers should not be reduced to just our duty as providers. We need to take active part in raising our children. Every child has material, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. Catering to all of these needs is an essential part of their developmental process. The legitimate hustle to afford a decent life can drown this consciousness as we then fail to show up in other areas. A little know disease of our time is physically present, but emotionally absent fathers. I would like to talk on meeting the emotional needs of our children here.

There is a place in the heart of every child that is the shape of a dad. A typical African dad is emotionally distant and often times, executes his love for his child(ren) in ways such as discipline and provision, instead of a relationship. As fathers (and even as husbands), many of us have erroneously come to derive self-validation chiefly from our ability to provide, thus putting the happiness and non-financial needs of our family on the balance. We have to learn to affirm and validate our children too not just with stuff, but with our time, our words, our presence and even our prayers. When kids don’t feel nestled in the love and acceptance of their parents, it can ruin their self esteem or complicate their lives in many ways. Who we are and what we become depends to a great extent on who loves us. someone once said “It is very challenging to find identity as a young person, if you don’t have the sustenance of love…” We must let our kids know that they are valuable, that they are loved. It matters less what people think or feel about them when they hear the truth first from home.

As children grow, they become more complex and their emotions become complicated too. If care is not taken, they can easily become dysfunctional. Our interaction with our children should also evolve as they growth. We can not always shout them into doing what we want to do. You can change bad behavior but can hardly change a bad child. The events that break such people mostly occur while they are children. We have so many broken children walking around in adult bodies. These broken children grow into troubled adults. When we understand how powerfully narrative of our identities control much of our lives, we can easily rationalize why the hardest people are often the most broken children. Sadly, they go on allowing themselves to be victims of the same narrative, re-enacting the account with every opportunity they get. Realize that even in the delinquent years, there are no bad children only bad behaviors, there are no selfish children only selfish behaviors, and there are no clumsy children only clumsy behaviors. If you see your children or their friends as bad children, you start out on the wrong foot. You have to be tolerant and keep an open mind when you get here.

Steve Biddulph in his book “Raising boys” said our role as parents is to keep our children until they are old enough to get help for themselves or know what way they should go and follow through with it. Like most of our parents, we should not fall into the trap of editing their dreams, or stand in their way, or limit their hope or discourage them in any way. Our job as fathers is to develop their interest in all areas, and not just the ones you are keen about, give them the resources to achieve their dreams. Truly successful parents are the one’s saying “Go on! You can achieve it. You can do that you can be great at that, and you can be terrific at that”. You have the power to stretch their imagination. Read if you want them to read, engage them in discussions that can stimulate their minds.

Fatherhood is a role that we have to grow into; it is on-the-job training. It is not an event, but a life time job with lifetime responsibilities. These responsibilities as fathers are not something owe our biological children only, it is something we owe as many children as are within our spheres of influence; our nephews and nieces, kids in our neighborhoods, churches, and even young people who would benefit from our mentorship as older friends or brothers. This means protection for them, not just when they are victimized or right, but even when they are wrong. Virtually everyone on the face of the earth will at some point or have at some point made mistakes. When they do, you must stand for them, protect them, correct them, discipline them and keep them safe. Never back down. In same vein, recognize the little things that we are called to do to build these little ones to great men and women. Be present for “coffee with dads”, PTA, Sports day and more. It’s appreciated more than you will ever know.


  1. T

    June 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Please tell them oh, that they should do everything possible to be available for these school programmes, the same way they do everything they can to make meetings and deadlines.

    After they will tell you there were “pressing issues” at work.

    As if we moms also don’t have pressing issues at work.

    Yes I’m angry at my hubby. He’s a repeat offender.

  2. Sevenade

    June 23, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    “Where the other dads?”
    This is a no-brainer! They went to work! In a country where the man is solely responsible for providing for the family, do we really need to ask why the other dads were absent! As if mummy would take up the responsibility of providing for the family if dad misses work, and loses his job.

    • Mystique

      June 23, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      No darling, that’s not why the other fathers didn’t turn up; men just focus on providing financial needs that’s all. It might also interest you to know that nowadays, women pay rent, school fees, feed the home, clean, raise the kids in addition to working 9am-5pm (and they do all of this wearing heel) lol. I bet you if the school asked mothers to do same, most of them will turn up. Let’s face it, there’s a fundamental problem with the African man. They aren’t raised right whereas women a taught from childhood how to build strong homes.

      In our generation, may we be deliberate about how we raise our boys so we can all work towards changing the narrative.

    • Bodunade

      June 23, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      @Sevenade, One bottle of Ciroc pineapple for you!

    • I

      June 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      Lmao…. joke of the century. I wonder where how mums go to everyday. Oh! I forgot, nowhere since that don’t go to work. Or maybe they go to the bar throughout. Delusional talk.

    • Fear God...

      June 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      Oga dont be ridiculous! This is not 1937 when men were sole bread winners. The average Nigerian home is a two income one with both Father and Mother working to provide. Yes, more of the responsibility may lie on the man to provide financial support but isn’t that the same way more of the responsibility has been given to women to manage the ‘home front’? We are both leaning more heavily on one side or the other so abeg when it comes to parenting your child, SHOW THE BLOODY HECK UP!

    • Cyn

      June 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      So one day out of 366 days, will ruin the father’s role as a provider?
      Sevenade I don’t blame you though, its the way you were brought up.
      Children going around in men’s bodies….stupid, stupid stupid ppl
      Nobody should upset me this afternoon with childish comments on important issues.

    • Ezinne

      June 23, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Why won’t mommy take up the responsibility? A woman that loves you will hold down the forte till you find your feet, unfortunately, its men like you that will advise their friends against a woman handling home affairs because it is “emasculating”. There are women who yearn to work but won’t be allowed by their husbands, ” stay home and take care of the kids” they say. By the way, in the average Nigerian home, both men and women work.
      Dear writer, bless your heart, your children are lucky people. I wish my dad was more involved in my life, lord knows I won’t have dated most of the men I dated. Today’s man should aspire to raise a child together with his wife, as a family, not as ATM and caregiver. Kudos my dear

    • Jay

      June 23, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Speak for yourself dear, there are mums out there working as hard as the dads, footing the bills to boot, yet still make time for the kids. Not everyone enjoys the luxury of being provided for…

    • Puzzles

      June 23, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      For your information, the financial responsibilities in many homes today are carried by the women either in full or in half. They don’t come out to say it so that it doesn’t look like they are belittling their husbands or they don’t want their friends to look down on them.

    • Nuna

      June 23, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      The joke is heavily on you because A LOT of mothers already contribute more than half of the family income. Some mothers are even the sole providers sef.

    • abby

      June 23, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      oh 4 goodness’ sake the mum’s work too..father’s day is once a year!! u wont die if u take an hour off work…stop making flimsy excuses you!

    • Nelo

      June 24, 2017 at 12:24 am

      `you must be living in the dark ages. the men just dont want to be there. Most Nigerian dads dont even care and it has nothing to do with being the provider. most women work or run businesses too. if u think it is easy ask you male counterparts in the developed world.the writer has said it all

    • nnenne

      June 24, 2017 at 3:16 am

      @ Sevenade…. Men with sole responsibility of providing for their children? In today’s Nigeria?
      Are you for real?
      What percentage of our men today, provide for their families in Nigeria, just by themselves?
      But even if they do, that doesn’t exempt them from getting involved in their kids lives. ..take them to games, attend PTAs, go over home work, sometimes, talk to and really get; to know them.

      Any one who, for whatever reason cannot do this, has no business making children. Please stay childless, enjoy your bachelor hood / spinster hood and profession. Having kids should be for people who can parent.

  3. leah

    June 23, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Nice write up. I am a single mum of a young boy whose father has refused to meet with him. My son has started asking about his father and i tell him he is not around. I am thinking of telling him his father is in heaven with his grandpas and grandmas,lol, so he does not grow up feeling unloved

    • single mum of a cute boy

      June 23, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      Simple as that. Sit him down and just tell him whatever will keep him from bothering you about that dead alive man and from feeling unloved.Dont even try to feel bad about doing it because if he could refuse to meet with his own flesh and blood then he is as good as dead. Nothing to be sorry or bothered about. Sometimes the truth is better not told if it will cause heartaches and erupt troubles. I’m in the same boat as you so I know how it feels. No need soliciting for people’s opinion or validation before you talk to your boy as a lot will criticize you strongly against it but won’t give you any solid and logical idea to get out of the situation. In the end you will find yourself back just where you started. So it’s who wears the shoe that knows where it pinches. I pray our boys turn out best. It is well sis # warm hugs

  4. O

    June 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    A father is responsible for providing financially, physically, emotionally and spiritual support for his family.
    He is the head of the family . He doesn’t have to be the sole provider.

  5. Being Helpful

    June 23, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    @Sevenade and @Bodunade: shame on both of you! It is obvious you both came from homes where the fathers were absentee fathers. A real man does not just provide economically for his family, he provides psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. A lot of children in our generation turned out to be armed robbers, thugs, touts, prostitutes, baby mamas, and so forth because men failed to rise to the occasion to lead in their homes not just in the board room. Fathers are the ones that are to give identity not just a last name but an identity of who you are meant to be. What you become in life is largely impacted by the kind of home you grew up in. If you had a father present as a woman who was always there to tell you he loved you and that you were his princess believe me, you won’t fall for any man that comes to profess love to you, because you will have higher standards. FATHERS! BE THE STANDARD BEARERS IN YOUR HOMES!

  6. demash

    June 23, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    well written….modern day Dads need to step up to the plate. Quit being parochial and get involved in your children’s lives. The future benefits are immense.

  7. Anon

    June 23, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Nigerian women that have been breadwinners for decades and kept quiet in the name of honouring the man, only for their husbands and sons to be the ones pandering the stereotype that the man is the sole breadwinner and that women don’t contribute much at work. Trust me, even if this held on a weekend, the turnout of dads wouldn’t have been any higher. Afterall, it’s still mostly mums that show up at Fun day and interhouse sports. Wonder why Nigerian women are so eager to marry when they’ll be the one having to do everything at home, while splitting the bills 50/50 (or more).

    • gia

      June 23, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      SHUT UP!!!!!
      Don’t you know that just by saying that you’re emasculating men!!!????
      Abeg,nigerian men,don’t mind this stupid anon,KPELE!!!


    • Bad

      June 23, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      This stupid lie is so f*&#$ed up…just stop it abeg… nigerian women are largely financially dependent on their husbands…nigerian women are extremely talkative and are never surreptitious about their financial commitments in the home… next thing she is calling her mom or her bestie about how she paid her kids school fees, like that should be something worth applauding THEY’RE YOUR KIDS TOO

  8. Neku

    June 23, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Nigerians women have not been bread winners for decades!! At least not in an Igbo man’s house. if wives of Igbo women are bread winners then it just started recently. In fact the only people that their mothers were doing anything for them were the people that their mums were single mums. I remember going to one of the banks headquarters in 1999. There was only 1 woman in there! Like I said Igbo men rarely if ever let their wives be bread winners. I have seen it in some cases were the woman earns more and the man still insists on living within what he can provide so he can provide. Be honest. A recent survey was carried out in the US and still 75% of main income providers are still men. I would find the link and post it.

    • tell em

      June 23, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      where did you get your statistic from??..and you had to bring tribe in..we do have a long way to go

  9. californiabawlar

    June 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    In heaven/hell. Dads die, they tend to that too.
    Male life expectancy is a bih… worse still in Naija. Sigh.

  10. O

    June 23, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    father is responsible for providing financially, physically, emotionally and spiritual support for his family.
    He is the head of the family . He doesn’t have to be the sole provider.

  11. Itoro

    June 23, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Maaaany mothers are providing for their families financially, abeg. You don’t hear about them because they won’t tell you upfront, in order to preserve their husbands’ image.

    I went to pre-natal counseling with my pregnant sister one time, I saw a big poster on the wall that was encouraging husbands to attend these sessions with their wives. There were over 50 women in that hospital hall, not one husband was there. This is the way our society has raised men to be. It has nothing to do with them being busy providing bread and akara.

  12. Brainstorm

    June 23, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Sevenade and co relax. We can give these particular dads (in this article) the benefit of doubr that they went to work and couldn’t make it, but the overall message of the article is true. We see father’s every now and then who focus on providing for their children but not spending time with them. It happens all around us and the author is trying to call men’s attention to this.

    Men need to do better. These days, men are not the sole providers – women are taking the lead in all sectors and are doing well. There are a thousand and one projects and initiatives to empower girls in all aspects but few for men. Ceteris Paribus the future of the world will be one where women are both providers and home managers and will balance them and do all these perfectly.

    Boys would have been taught to make money so that they can get good things and a good wife, but the women of the future will not be attracted by your money (cos they have it) but by other parameters which sadly, boys of these days (men of the future) are not being taught, because men don’t (really) care.

    Girls are learning to do domestic chores, take care of children, negotiate in the market, be involved in small businesses (handcraft, e.t.c), slay in school and be ambitious and successful, but boys are (sadly, only) learning to slay in school, be ambitious and successful. Girls are getting into “men’s jobs” (which is not by the way) because they have gotten the opportunity, but no opportunity for boys.

    Parents come together to teach ALL your children what you both know.
    Men, come together to initiate intervention projects for boys.

    Epistle ends. (If there are typos, I’m sorry. Didn’t edit).

    • nnenne

      June 24, 2017 at 3:20 am

      @Brainstorm. ..Thank you!

  13. Anonymous

    June 23, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Given what i have read and heard about several father-children relationship, his write up isn’t a bad idea for improving these relationships. However, he neglected to consider the impact of the timing and venue of this reading event, because having worked and lived in Lagos as a woman, i too will not show up on Thursday to read to my child except it isn’t on my employer’s time. So if i live and work on the mainland, but put my son in a school in Ikoyi because of the reputation of the school, how do i justify taking off in the middle of the day to my employer. Just the other day, we were lambasting some lady that wanted to go to church on a work day. These scenarios are similar to me. In fixing such events, the school should take cognizance of the reality that people have jobs so they can afford their kids fees , hence, they can’t afford to lose their jobs over a reading session that was poorly planned. Missing one reading session will not kill the child. They will be fine in the end. After-all, my father never attended any school activities but our relationship with him is rock solid. Charity begins at home and not all these for show appearances.

  14. bukki

    June 24, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Well said, writer. Mothers and fathers alike have equal responsibility of providing emotionally for their children – regardless of who the breadwinner is or whether both parents are working to provide for the family. There wouldn’t have been this conversation if not for the incessant failure of many fathers in proving their own half of the orange when it comes to giving attention to their children

    On the other hand, there are some mothers too who have failed at their responsibilities as mums. I think we should also send a “mummy where are you?” reminders to these ones – though they may be in the minority.

    The fact that a mother tends to show more love, care and attention for a child does not make such acts by mothers remarkable! – neither are emotionally present fathers doing something out of this world.
    We should only campaign for the total involvement of both men and women in the upbringing of a child and nothing more. No parent, father or mother deserve a medal for successfully bring up a child. It is just the standard of parenthood.

  15. Josephine

    June 24, 2017 at 8:50 am

    I know Ferdinand wrote this to be informative but it made me emotional. I feel like crying. Raw nerves hit big time. I don’t want to state that an emotionally distant father is worse than having none at all but I’m tempted to.

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