For Heglon Kitawi, his three sons are his pride and joy, and blessings in his life.
Lukundo, 11, Kiama, 8, and Tito, 15 months have taught him a lot about fatherhood and given him a wholesome experience.
Before his oldest son was born, he new fatherhood was a huge responsibility so he and his wife Njambi decided to plan and prepare for parenthood, and even attended parenting classes.
“For me, the birth of my Lukundo was greeted with mixed emotions. I was well prepared and I knew we were having a son; and I was thrilled. Parenthood was not that abrupt. We had planned for our baby. I worked and cooperated with my wife as I wanted to be fully involved,” He says
Although his wife had to undergo a caesarean procedure, Heglon was there to give her emotional support.
“When I look at my children I feel honoured…I have the opportunity to shape the direction of their life, to teach them, to discipline them; to guide another significant human being.”
As he has thought about his relationships with his sons, he began to reflect on his relationship with his own father and also observed the interaction between fathers and their sons.
Heglon realised there are key elements to creating and building a strong father-son relationship and one the most important is being there for them.
“I had to be an available father to my sons just like my own father was to us. It was all about spending quality bonding time with my son; I used to wash him and change his diapers,” he says.
Since most of his relatives have mostly daughters, he always thought he too would have daughters. He also believed it was much easier to raise girls. But now, he wouldn’t change the fact that he has sons. “I am a proud dad to boys; they are an extension of me.”
Heglon believes in instilling discipline when his sons are still young and raising them in a godly way.
Sometimes the father-son relationship can be complex. Fathers and sons with widely differing interests can find it hard to relate to one another. Sometimes, they are competitive, and other times they do not see eye to eye. Heglon and Lukundo are no different.
Lukundo’s personality is like his father’s -- inquisitive and argumentative. But Heglon admits that his son has taught him to be patient when they both disagree. Sometimes when they argue, it takes Njambi’s effort to calm both of them down.
But one thing Heglon will never compromise is being involved in his sons’ lives; more so now that Lukundo is approaching adolescence.
“I had to engage my sons so I could learn and understand them. They have different abilities and talents and I need to nurture that.”
He is working at ensuring open communication lines so that his sons do not lock him out when they are teenagers. He wants them to feel they can talk to him openly.
To bond with his sons, Heglon makes time to play hide-and-seek, chase each other around, and to have weekend lunches and outdoor activities. He also takes his children to school, and when he travels for work, he ensures they speak over a video call every evening.
“The legacy I would want to leave to my boys is consistency in everything I do – how I love their mother; how I resolve issues with them; and the things I try to achieve, whether I succeed or not. When they become adults, I want when to be able to look me in the eye and say, 'you did your best'.”
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