Are You a Dad, Or Just Pretending to be One?

I could not take my eyes off her as she narrated the cause of her sadness. She said, with bleary eyes that told a real tale of woe:

“My mom called me just now to tell me that my paternal aunt came by our house, hurling insults at her, threatening to send her packing if she failed to send my younger sister back with her.”

Then I asked how the story began, and she said:

“Before I gained admission into higher institution, my sister and I lived with my aunt. There, we were made to do chores her children would not do ordinarily. We fetched water as though our feeding depended on it, and after everything what we get is a few crumbs of food. Life there was very painful; but more painful is the fact that we couldn’t go back home despite that my father’s house is just two streets away. I tried several times, but my father always found an inexplicable reason to send me back.

This hardship continued until I graduated from secondary school. Then I left. Thenceforth I lived with my maternal grandmother who resided in the same locality. My sister wasn’t old enough to make that decision, and I couldn’t make it for her, as the consequences of my own decision were more than enough for me to bear. Sadly, my mom also couldn’t come to her rescue − anytime she tried my aunt always threatened to send her packing. There was little mom could say or do as regards anything in the family, and my father watched all these without saying so much as a word.”

She sniffed, gave me a few moments to take that in and then continued:

“A few days ago, mom informed me that my aunt sent my younger sister back home just because she was complaining non-stop of stomach ache. The message was clear – my aunt couldn’t take care of her, despite the fact that the ache resulted from poor feeding. There were times she’d stop my sister from attending school just because there were chores she needed to complete. And when she got ill, she sent her back to her parents’ house for treatment.

I called my father immediately to make him see reasons he shouldn’t send her back there and he promised he wouldn’t. Finally, I was happy. But happiness like that was meant to be short-lived. As you might have guessed, my father did NOTHING! And, having noticed that my sister hadn’t resumed duty for some time, my aunt’s eldest daughter came to confront my mom, hurling insults at her for not sending her back. Again, my father did NOTHING. And now that my aunt had taken her back against her will, my father still hasn’t done ANYTHING…”

I know that by now you already know where this is headed, so I’ll skip the rest of the story, including the part where you do a thorough analysis of another person’s family. However, one thing is clear; the father has failed in a core aspect of his responsibilities.

Being a father is more than just a name, it is more than just a title, and it is, without doubt, more than being a cheerful sperm donor. After all, to whom a child is given, much is expected. 

Fathers play a role in every child’s life that cannot be filled by others. This role can have a large impact on a child and help shape him into a better version of himself.

Studies have shown that fatherless children are twice as likely to end up in jail, twice as likely to carry unwanted pregnancies, and four times more likely to need help for behavioural problems.

So you needn’t doubt or ask whether or not fathers are important, because the answer is a resounding YES! However, that’s just in the ideal or the near-ideal sense. Nowadays, as in the case described above, fathers often go back on their basic responsibilities so much so that they end up rearing kids who might as well be categorized as fatherless based on statistics. What then is the essence of having a father?

Delving into ALL the qualities of a true father is like digging a bottomless pit. We don’t want to do that in this space. However, I’m going to discuss THREE most essential of these qualities.


That men are created to be stronger is not a mistake on God’s part. In fact, it is a gift to enable them to do well in their roles as protectors.

A man who cannot protect his family might as well be called a WOMAN. As a matter of fact, he is a WASTE! A waste of God’s resources; a waste of the extra ribs; a waste of the well built muscles; a waste of beards; a waste of the ‘FATHER’ word…and he should be JAILED for deceiving the public – calling himself a MAN!!!


For clarification, I do not mean for men to go about taking bullets and beating people up for their families. Well, the situation could warrant such. But there’s more to it.

A real man protects his family from external threats, from his extended families, from his friends, and even from himself. And he does not only protect them physically; he also protects them mentally and emotionally. Because if you look at the world today, you’d realize that emotional stress and mental stress do a lot more harm than physical abuse.

Family is one of the greatest gifts God can give to a man and, as such, he needs to guard it selfishly. If your wife or child(ren) come to you and tell you someone has acted inappropriately towards them, never assume that they have gotten it wrong. Instead, you need to listen, ask questions and then act with SENSE. Even if it eventually turns out that they are wrong, a real dad does not neglect the fact that something has happened to make his family uncomfortable, to make his family seek his support and protection. Thus, he needs to reassure them that he’s always there for them and look for a way to make the situation better.


I know you must have come across the book ‘THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES.’ But my aim is not to rephrase any of Joseph Campbell’s words. The heading just seems perfect for my point and I think I deserve extra credit for that, yeah?

A real dad is a lot of things for his family. He is 1000 persons in one body. You might as well call him a shape shifter, or an actor. Only that he is not caught up in the web of DECEIT.

A real dad tailors himself to suit different circumstances. He acts like a kid if his wife/kids need him to. He acts like a man if the situation warrants. He acts like a puppet if need be. He acts like a toddler just to connect with his baby. He acts like a clown to make his family smile. He acts like a sage to guide his family. He acts like a husband to show his wife she made the right choice. He acts like a disciplinarian to instill good characters in his household. He acts like a pastor or an imam to strengthen his family’s bond with God. He acts like…well…EVERYTHING. But not EVERYTHING!!! He needs to be wise.


A real dad treats his family with love, respect, patience, tolerance, honesty and all the good things you can think of. Well, most of it. And he also extends this treatment to other people.

A real dad does not abuse when he has issues with someone, he does not participate in road rage, he does not put other people down, he doesn’t say bad things about other people behind their backs, he does not berate any member of his extended family in front of his kids, he does not insult his wife… In fact, the best gift a dad can give to his kids is to treat their mother with respect (even if it is not reciprocated) and love her without reservation.

Yes, some of these examples are well known. But most times the things we do when we are high on emotions have physical and emotional effects on our kids. Let me tell you another story.

Some years back, when I was still in the junior secondary school, a girl of about four or five called me a stupid man just because I corrected her. If she had said stupid boy, maybe I wouldn’t have mentioned it. But I suppose the girl picked those words from her mother who is always calling her dad a STUPID MAN. Come to think of it, she is probably too young to know who a man was. Moreover, I wasn’t a man at the time. I was a boy.

Being a father is not a day’s job. And it definitely goes beyond the sweet words you have just read here. However, with all these words in mind, it is not a gesture of goodwill, but the job and moral obligation of fathers to ACT LIKE ONE.

PLEASE share and let me know what you think in the comments section. Thank you.


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