19 Jun Fatherhood in the Era of Millenials
If you had a dollar for every think-piece or article written about the curious phenomenon of Generation Y, you would be rich.
No generation, in recent history, has garnered as much attention as Gen Y, or as they are famously known, millennials. This is mainly because no generation has thrown out the best laid life script passed on by their elders the way this generation has.
This isn’t out of disrespect of previous generations, of course, but because millennials are faced with a unique social, political, economic and especially technological era, which brought with it rapid globalization and its associated influences and effects, hence calling for a new way of approaching and navigating life in the 21st Century.
Yes, Gen Y are all grown up and embracing that critical stage of life that is parenthood. And, like in all other areas of their lives, there’s interest in the kind of parents they will be.
Are they coming up with a whole new approach to parenting? Will they go back to the basics of the parenting blue-print set by the generation before them? Will they combine a bit of both the old and new approach?
Instead of wondering, we talked to two QG fathers, John and Joshua, who happen to be Gen Y-ers, to find out:
How would you describe your upbringing?
John: I was born and raised in Kireka, a few kilo meters from the city centre. Growing up, our parents made sure that we lived a comfortable childhood in spite of their modest income. It was an adventurous childhood: we went fishing, hiking, cycled, and “sold” our teeth to the tooth fairy and had a lot of toys.
Joshua: I had a normal upbringing with my uncle as the father figure. He is what we call a real father-commands love and respect without saying a single word. I want to be like him when I grow up.
What kind of father did you have growing up?
John: Dad made sure that we went to fairly good schools, ate good meals, and attended church. But for the time I fought with my older sister, I don’t remember my dad hitting me for anything, but somehow he commanded a lot of respect mixed with subtle fear from all of us-the mere threat of reporting an incident to Daddy sent quivers down my spine. Personally, I would be forced to apologise, or threatened into surrendering half of my big piece of chicken to buy the silence of my prosecutors.
All in all, Mzee John Ssekweyama was a very hardworking man, he feared the Lord, taught us to be respectful, and loved his woman, my mum; I don’t remember seeing them fight over anything.
In what ways does your parenting style differ from that of your father’s generation?
John: Apart from the communal parenting mode, I don’t think there’s much that has changed. Well the rise of technology cannot be ignored- we see children spending more time with games, the internet, etc than parents. This is largely attributed to the increased cost of living which keeps some parents on the road hence there’s limited time to spare for 1on1s with children, especially fathers.
Joshua: I wouldn’t say there is a major difference only that our generation is more relaxed in parenting, we can put up with a stubborn kid yet our parents would cane the hell of out of us in case you act abnormally.
What lessons did you learn from your father, that you hope to incorporate/ are incorporating in your parenting approach?
John: Mzee taught me to work hard or stay hungry. He encouraged me to explore and pursue my passion, even if it meant spoiling some home equipment like radios, electric iron boxes. He taught me to be an honest man, faithful and never to abandon my responsibilities, be it at work or home. I keep praying to God to give me the wisdom my parents had raising us. I also pray for the same patience my parents afforded me while I spoilt appliances trying to learn electrical diagnosis because there’s so much around the house I wouldn’t want my son to spoil.
Joshua: To be a man, that is: provide for the family, love them and be a source of inspiration.
What do you think of millennial’s approach to parenting, in general?
John: So many parents, especially men, have abandoned their responsibilities- we have a rising number of single mothers. While some parents have got their act together, there’s a lot of neglect, financial, emotional and physical thanks to our busy schedules or plain recklessness.
Joshua: We are so obsessed with our children and while it’s normal, we end up over pampering them and they turn out to be over reliant on us as parents which is quite different from how we were raised.
Joshua is the Media Director at QG Group.
John works for the Digital Department at QG Group