I am in my youth and the greatest pain in my life stems from my father; he has been the provider, which I applaud him for, but he has never been a father to me.
Growing up, especially in my adolescence, I felt the need to be with men who would nurture or initiate me into manhood, mostly because I am the only male child in a family of five children.
I was able to meet and spend time with several men whom I can say have greatly contributed to the man I have become.
However, due to the fact that I was initiated into manhood by different men, I feel as if I have no consistency as a man; I picked a little bit from here and there.
Sometimes I can be really responsible and at others I border on the other extreme. Sometimes I am proud of the man I have become, and sometimes I detest myself.
I am currently looking for work, and trying to keep myself occupied with other pursuits, but I feel the need to settle down, have a constant source of income, get married, and have children.
I worry about whether I will succeed in my quest to become a better man with these two sides at war within me.
As a man, I know I must provide, yet because of the way I have grown up, I know that simply providing does not mean you are a good father; that it is important to build proper relationships with one’s children. My greatest fear is turning out to be like my father.
Kindly advise me how I can come to terms with my myself and become a better man in order to build strong relationships with my children.
When God created family, he set aside special roles to be played by the man and the woman. The fact that one is your biological father does not necessarily mean you will learn from him.
Children fail to learn from their fathers due to several reasons, including a father’s absence, physically or emotionally, the character of the father, which could be unattractive to the child, and differences in the home that make it a hard learning environment.
Coupled with this could be the rebellion of a child towards learning. In his book, Life Without Father, David Popenoe, wrote: “Growing up without a father may be a root cause of many social ills; from crime to academic failure.”
As a child grows up, the partnership of the father and the mother in his or her life helps to bring stability and positive learning experiences.
But you have realised that father is a name that has to be earned beyond providing the basic needs of a child, and that one does not become a father in a child’s life without working hard for it.
I would, however, urge you to be grateful for the fact that your father provided for you. In an article I read somewhere, a new Pew Research survey (2010), showed that 69 per cent of respondents agreed that a child needs a father in the home to grow up happily, 27 per cent disagreed, while four per cent were not sure.
And this is the debate in our country today. Irresponsibility on the part of men has left a leadership vacuum not only in the home but also in business and at the workplace.
There are fewer and fewer men who can stand up as role models of good leadership and who are responsible over the wholesome mentoring and coaching of today’s generation.
Many counsellors allude to the fact that the decline of fatherhood is one of the most unexpected and extraordinary trends of our time.
You do not have to be like your father; many successful people, like President Barack Obama, have grown up without having their biological fathers around.
But it is important to note that the presence or absence of a father or mother in the home is of critical importance when it comes to learning how to successfully navigate different areas in life.
Fear is probably the biggest obstacle to success; it keeps us from getting what we need and also keeps us dependent on other people. The absence of a father figure should not limit you.
You seem to be of the view that growing up without a father plays a big part in your lack of leadership or social skills, which has led to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and insecurity.
These insecurities, if not handled well, will manifest themselves through aggressive behaviour or withdrawal. What you need to do is go beyond your fears and refuse to let them stop you from living your life.
Of importance also is the fact that becoming a man is not just about age. The making of a man is the sum total of many lessons in his life.
Although Kenyan law considers any male aged 18 years and above as an adult, a boy only makes it into the bracket of being a true man after acquiring certain attributes through exposure to various learning experiences.
Such experiences include taking responsibility in times of failure, assuming responsibility when left in charge, embracing discipline, and handling challenging situations.
You need to ask yourself if you have passed through these experiences. If so, then you are slowly but surely building yourself up as a man.
This way, your biological father does not need to be your father figure and you can augment your learning by being around men you can learn from positively, people we call coaches and mentors.
Yes, you will miss the input of a father, but this will not stop your progression if you keep a positive attitude.
I am 44 years old and have been married for 21 years with three children. My husband and I are both in stable jobs. At some point though, my husband was out of a job for nine years and could not support the family. I did so without complaining.
Now, he is so much into supporting his father’s family that even giving pocket money to the children is an issue.
We also barely communicate and intimacy for me has become a mere routine to fulfil a marital obligation; I realised that whether I was in the mood or not, it did not matter to him.
Since he does not have friends, I am equally not expected to have any. He does not even allow visitors, including relatives, to visit us, saying that he grew up in solitude.
I, on the other hand, grew up in a large family, with relatives and visitors around, so I am used to socialising. The children, who are now teenagers, are also not expected to have friends over.
I feel as if I am not living my life to the fullest and I think the children feel the same because they cannot wait to be through with college and move out.
What do I do about this man who can only buy one kilogramme of meat on Saturday, who will only talk to me when he needs my financial support?
What do I do about a man who cannot even offer emotional support (I lost my father this year, yet he never talked to me through that period and I had to cater for almost everything during that time.
His mother, who lives 500 metres from my house, could not even come to say pole)? Mark you, I pay all the bills: rent, food, and water.
Sorry for the loss of your mother. Now, being out of a job for nine years can take quite a toll on anyone, particularly a man, because of the way we are wired.
But from your email, it appears your husband is now employed but still does not support the family. Two things are clear.
First, there seems to be a problem with financial management in your marriage. Without a clear financial plan, every person will do whatever they want.
A financial plan brings discipline to the marriage. Second, lack of communication encourages secrecy and lack of accountability in how each of you spends money. There is a need, therefore, to tackle these two bottlenecks in your marriage.
Since you seem to know that your marriage is lacking in terms of communication, why do you not change this? Begin by evaluating how you communicate.
Then try and use an approach that is friendly yet firm to attract positive engagement and involvement from him.
Also, drive the idea of drawing up the family’s financial plan; develop a budget by involving his leadership. Try not to appear controlling or pushy when sharing issues — be loving, yet firm.
On the issue of friends, I would suggest that you reach a compromise. Marriage is give and take, so if your husband grew up as a person who does not socialise, then it may take him time to learn to do so.
Just make sure that he is not using this as an excuse to keep out people who could speak about his behaviour. I am also of the opinion that your marriage needs someone firm to sit with you and help you two to talk.
There is a lot of emotional baggage I sense from you that has slowly made you bitter towards him. I suggest that you deal with your inner pain to avoid becoming a wounded, bitter woman who feels lonely and emotionally deprived.
I suggest that you consult a counsellor whom both of you can visit and open up to. In case you need help to do this, please do not hesitate to write back.
I am in a relationship with a woman who is two years younger than me. She is God fearing and I truly love her, which is why I want to settle down with her.
Recently though, we have been having problems that have me quite worried about our future.
My girlfriend has become arrogant; she has a don’t-care attitude and never takes anything we discuss seriously, especially in regard to taking our relationship forward.
Although she pays attention and contributes on any discussion we have, she never takes any steps to see our ideas implemented.
I have always felt that it will be a good idea for us to start a business together before we settle down, but she always rubbishes it.
I have told her a couple of times that I want to officially introduce her to my parents in order to take our relationship to the next level but she has refused, saying she wants to first go back to school for her second degree, which I am sure is a lie.
On weekends, she spends most of her time in church and does not even visit me or try to create an opportunity for us to spend time together.
I feel as if she is trying to buy time with me as she looks for greener pastures. As a result of her behaviour, we have been quarrelling a lot, but we always reconcile after about a week, mostly after I apologise (to the extent of kneeling) even when she is the one who is in the wrong.
She never apologises. Should I leave this woman and look elsewhere?
I see some great values here concerning your relationship. Your girlfriend is God-fearing and you truly love her. I can also see a healthy level of communication that should be supported.
What I do not understand is the reason for the arrogance. Could it have something to do with finances? Maybe she feels that you want to drive the financial agenda without her feeling secure in the kind of projects suggested.
It may be necessary to find out the reasons for her behaviour. I sense some form of insecurity on her part towards your plans. Maybe she initially agrees to certain projects because she feels cornered.
The two of you have dated for just a year. I would suggest that before you present her to your parents, have a session to examine your goals — it could just be that your goals in life are different.
If you decide to get married, I would advise that you get into a premarital programme first.
I am 30 years old and married with a nine-year-old old son. About seven years ago, I separated from my husband after I learnt that he was having an affair with a colleague.
In fact, he packed my belongings and had a friend of his deliver them to my parents’ home after I threatened to confront his lover at his work place.
He lied to my mother that we had differed and that we were on the way over to explain things. We stayed apart for almost three years, during which period he was supporting us financially.
He also used to come and see us, but he would not say anything about getting back together as a family, probably because of the woman.
About two years ago, he came for us, and because I thought he had changed, I did not make it difficult for him. I also wanted my son to grow up with a father in his life.
Then I started noticing some weird behaviour, like going to the bathroom with his phone and sometimes failing to come back home over the weekend.
The same year, a church near where my mother lived was encouraging couples to exchange or renew their vows. I talked my husband into doing this with me.
When I asked whether we could invite some friends he refused, saying it was better to wait until we could organise a big wedding.
I did not want to lose the opportunity and because it is just the blessing that I needed, we did away with invitations and only our witnesses and parents attended the ceremony.
Later, I got hold of his phone and came across photos of a pregnant woman, the colleague who had caused our separation. I got her number and texted her, asking her whether she knew that her man was my husband.
She replied that if he loved me he would be faithful and that I should mind my business. I confronted my husband about it and he denied everything.
I went a step further and scanned and emailed our marriage certificate to the woman. To my surprise, a few months after our small wedding, my husband paid dowry to the other woman’s parents.
It was only afterwards that she went to my church to confirm that he was married to me. She told the priest that she was also married to him traditionally and that they had a child together.
The big problem came when my husband was transferred back to Nairobi. Now he cannot lie anymore about his whereabouts. The problem is that now he hardly comes home.
He sends money through M-Pesa, and only when I ask for it. I am worried because I know the woman is manipulating him and using all tactics to keep him.
I know my text is long but I wanted to give you a clear story of my life so that you can assist me. Please advise me what to do.
I cannot trust anybody now, not even my husband’s family because they knew about the affair and were part of it.
I empathise with your situation and hope that you will find peace as you navigate these issues. It seems clear to me that your husband desired and was committed to having two wives.
It is also clear from your write-up that the other woman seems not to mind being a second wife. He has legalised your marriage and customarily secured his marriage to the other woman.
Consequently, I do not think that I am really the right person to advise you what you need to do. If you are unhappy with the situation, you may need to involve your parents on both sides and your priest.
Depending on your relationship with you your parents and his, a meeting can be convened and the problem discussed. However, at the core of the resolution of this matter is your husband’s willingness to be in such a meeting.
You may need to determine for yourself what exactly you want out of such a discussion. Once you are clear, then be ready not to back down the way you did in the past, thereby allowing him to take advantage of you.