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Should children love or fear their fathers?

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Bishop Charles Ighele


One of the areas, where as a marriage counsellor, I have found the largest percentage of dysfunctional relationships, is the relationship between the father and the child. In the average home, the children are closer to their mothers and prefer to crack jokes and spend time with them, while their relationship with their fathers can be here and there.

Why is this so? The father of every home is the head of that family. He is just like the executive president of a country. He wields authority and governs the affairs of the home.

Due to their consciousness and the authority they wield, some Nigerian fathers smile or play with their children once in a while. They think this is what will put the family in check. Like Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s best selling novel “Things Fall Apart”, they think it’s a sign of weakness for a man to show feelings of love to his children and the whole family. They are obsessed with maintaining the picture of the strong African man.

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A father once said, “if I am not harsh or if I keep smiling with my children, they will not fear or respect me.” How far he was from the truth. We learnt from our fathers and tradition, men are supposed to be strong creatures whose stoic and stern presence is to inspire fear in the children and sometimes, even in their wives.

As fathers, we must not model our relationship with our children after our culture, or how we perceive it should be. Rather, we should aim at modelling the relationship we share with our Heavenly Father.

Our children and wives are not supposed to be afraid of us. They are supposed to love us because we love them and not because they are afraid of us. In our relationship with our Heavenly Father, He first loved us. The quality of the love He has for humans is so strong that He offered Jesus as a sacrifice for the building of a relationship with man.

The Heavenly Father is approachable and expresses feelings of love to His children. While you must strive as a man to place yourself in a position where your children will respect you, I believe this respect should not be out of unnecessary fear and terror. Rather, it should be out of deep love and reverence.How then as a father can you bridge the gap between your children and yourself? How can you redefine your relationship in such a way that develops a bond of love?

If as a man you are unable to inspire and build love with your children, when you age, you will find less things to discuss with them. Yes, they may send you gifts, but they may never be your friends.It is of utmost importance for every father to make his children his friends, and a way this can be done is by combining your authority as a father with the humility of a lover.

In their early years of growth, you should inspire them to be your disciples and as they grow above teenage-hood, they should grow into becoming your friends.As our children grew, we discovered that if we did not surround them with our friendship, they might look for it in the wrong places. So, we would go somewhere and spend hours just gisting with them and sharing ideas. I, Charles, would take our daughters to the salon and sit with them as they made their hair. And I kept doing this even after I became a bishop with a lot of responsibilities.
Deliberately, decide to be close to your children this New Year. Love you. Happy New Year!


In this article:
Charles Ighele
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