Saturday, September 19, 2020

Why Father’s Day still isn’t a big deal

Local businesses are not exactly rubbing their hands gleefully in anticipation of a Father’s Day business windfall. Botswana marketers do not seem keen to get behind Father’s Day. While all the big festive holidays that involve mass consumption (e.g., Easter, Christmas, and Mother’s Day) have gotten the best out of marketers, they have been late to the party in making a genuine splash around Father’s Day.

This is hardly surprising. In Botswana fathers are not an easy sell. Batswana fathers have always gotten a bad rep. They are stuck with the “missing in action” label or in vernacular “o thudilwe ke terena” simply meaning he’s not there to care for the child.

Boago Setiko of Leaders of Sons Association in Gaborone however says this is about to change as more and more young men are growing into responsible fathers who care and provide for their kids.

“Young men are now more than ever motivated and responsible, they are there for their pregnant girlfriends and wives and strive to be great fathers, they take kids to hospitals, change diapers at home and even bathe the kids, and something which was once deemed a woman’s job. They make an effort to be involved in their kids’ lives whether they are with the mother or not.”

She says young boys who grew up without fathers try as much to not let history repeat itself by being there for their kids. The Leaders of Sons Association’s main aim is to empower and motivate the boy child to grow up to become a responsible man and father.

Positive portrayals of fatherhood are often ignored and dismissed as uncharacteristic or uncommon, but nowadays millennial dads are proving otherwise by being involved in their children’s lives and rejecting the bad dad stereotype. Botshelo Keitumetse  a young dad who works as a messenger at Sprint Couriers in Gaborone says his parenting skills were influenced by his father’s traditional parenting skills “My father was very busy with work, but he would try and try and make up for it every weekend by spending time with us, he had good intentions, but he wasn’t expressive. I would have liked for my father to have advised me more while growing up, nonetheless I appreciate him and all his efforts in raising me.” He says he makes up for what he feels was lacking by being more communicative and hands on with his 5 year old son.

Young fathers are part of a growing group who are likely to be more involved in their children’s everyday lives than many dads in previous generations.

Katlego Mokgosi is a self-employed dad who is raising two boys aged 4 and 6. He says he decided to quit his job and start a business of his own partly to be able to spend time with his family as his previous job was taking up much of his time. “It was for the sake of stability for the family. If we had a child, I wanted to be around, especially in the first few years, when building a relationship with my children.”

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.