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Lessons From Tobi ~ For The Dads Who Stayed

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Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

Ecclesiastes 7:29

He just turned 16 months and yet he has taught me a lot about myself and life.

Forgive my naivety, but I have always associated muscles  in men to be symbolic of underlying pride and arrogance. This in turn partially informed my rebellion for patriarchy in all its forms. But he is 16 months old and he does not know anything about patriarchy and matriarchy. He is not trying to be anything but himself. He is so manly with muscles in his arms and legs evident.

The proclivity of muscles is biological.

I have a daughter. I look up to my mother. I am surrounded by strong black women. My daughter will become a strong black woman herself. She is going to do better though than I have done.

My 16 month old nephew is getting me to rethink my faulty paradigms:( He is not talking yet but he speaks to me. His acceptance of me is an indication of our special bond. This is true of all children, they love unconditionally.

He loves his meals. He is always busy scattering well arranged rooms and offices. He responds to love so intimately and he smiles easily. He is so cute, you want to drench him in your kisses.


What can you learn from a 16 month old? You can reflect on their innocence, you can learn that we all started this small.  At some point, Tobi will ask himself: What do people mean when they say be a man? How am I expected to act or speak? How am I supposed to behave? What does it mean to be a real man? Am I allowed to cry? These are excellent questions we all ask at some point in our lives.

When do some men become assholes?

I don’t know. Because God made us all perfect, but we sought inventions. When do men decide to choose the bottle over their families? When do they decide that having a strange woman by their side is better than the loyal embrace of their wives? When do they decide they wont be supportive? When do they begin to keep secrets? What takes a man into a brothel? What does a man find attractive in a casino? When a man hits his woman the first time and the second time, why does he not seek help then? When a man who has been married for over thirty years decides he had always been bisexual. When a man steals from his family?

I have used the worst examples of men. I know good men. My dad was a great man. He provided for his family. He bought my first car. I could talk easily to him. He was my strength.

Some men are not like my daddy

Its easy to be a man – a man can walk away from his kids without looking back. Men don’t know the trauma of carrying a baby for nine months, some men do not know the pressure of balancing a career, the domestics and child care. I want to recognize the fathers who stayed. The daddies who kept in touch with their children. Children are more than good sex, they need more than the mandatory cheques.

I find myself learning from Tobi reminding me that I was once little. When did I loose my innocense? Can I ever get it back? But again, this is not about me.  It is my job to model kindness then he can show kindness. It is my job to help him understand the beauty in books – a broad mind can interact with anyone in the world. It is my job to buy him the finest of books. It is my job to make sure he learns to keep his promises – this is what makes a man. His word must be bond.

There is no point changing who I have become but I can learn to see life again like Tobi does – through the mirror of beauty and unwavering acceptance. My job is to show Tobi  how to be competitive in the business world and how to be disciplined in his every day life. No one will be able to hurt him. They will need to come through me first!

I have friends who are single mothers. I know people who were raised without fathers. Fathers are essential as fatherhood takes a lifetime. Fatherhood is impactful and the negative effects we see in our society – the high rates of blacks in the criminal system for example – may be because of an absence of fathers in homes. Father abandonment is a big issue that often leave a lot tragedy behind.

This short piece is to salute the men who stayed. The men who juggle who remain a part of the lives of their children. The best thing a father can do to a child, is to love the mother. Children  want a father who is there, not a father who shows up once a year. They want a father who gets involved with their school work. They want a father who provides and who teaches them to love life and take responsibility for their actions.

This piece is dedicated to the men who became fathers. Step fathers who stood in the gap. Fathers who pray for their children, fathers who create time for their wives and children, fathers who have  a good work life balance, fathers who understand that they are necessary and needed in the lives of their families and in the community. This piece is dedicated to every good man out there. Every man who tries.

Photocredit: Unsplash

With Father’s Day coming up, this is to recognize especially those men who are present and intentional in their lives of their children and to recognize doubly men who honor their wives and take up the responsibility  as priests in the home. If there is no father in your home, we salute you too. It is not easy being a double parent.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty  1 Cor 1:27

When I look at Tobi, I see a man in the making and I understand that as an adult, I have a role to play in the lives of my nieces and nephews. God has chosen children like Tobi to teach us adults, our relevance and dependence upon God. We will never be perfect enough as parents but we have God’s guidance.

In conclusion

Tobi wont need to ever worry for anything. This auntie will always be here for him.


Tee Adeyemo writes for LCCMedia


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