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My Daughter and I

My daughter was my first child. Her birth brought me so much joy. I dotted on her and friends and family warned that if I continued at that rate I will turn her into a spoilt child. I did not want to spoil her and toned down. I hated to see her cry or put up a frown. When she laughed, her little white teeth sparkled and her dimples were very obvious. She made my heart melt in so many ways. We were very close. She would fight with anyone who sat at my favourite spot in the hall.
Fast forward, she started school and we grew apart,or so I thought. Pretty Efe no longer shared stories about what happened in school, who fell, who was last, etc till I asked. She will instead tell her mother .I felt jealous. Why was she drawing closer to her mum? Why will she not sleep when her mum returned late but will sleep when I wasn’t home? I hardly scolded her as much as her mum did, so why?
I put in more effort and ignored all the advice that said I was spoiling her. Don’t get me wrong, she was still sweet and will call me daddy in a way that made my heart melt-She was growing into a wonderful child. She was just sweeter to her mum who did not seem to be  fighting for it.
I began to read books, articles on google and discuss my ‘problem’ with people I thought had better relationships with their daughters. These are some of the answers I got and will like to share with you. I spoke with a friend who had two daughters.
At the time this was happening, my daughter was 13.My wife and I were having issues and I literally screamed at her all the time and won’t eat at home. I was staying longer at work and when I was home, I did very little to help with chores. All I did to catch my daughter’s attention was to drop her off at her cousin’s or friend’s. Watch her favourite program with her, occasionally help with homework and buy her gifts.
Her mother took her to church, taught her to dress properly, taught her to cook, showed her the stress involved and saw the pain in her eyes when I did not eat.My wife interacted with our daughter’s friends when she picked her up from school, taught her to clean and change her menstrual pad and disciplined her more. After I gave these answers to my friend who asked me what roles we (my wife and I) played in our child’s life, I realized I did not have the right to be jealous or brood over my daughter’s closeness to her mum.
‘Well by dint of the fact that she carried her for 9 months,they will be close’. My friend said. At this point I thought it was a lost battle but he went on say that, there were a lot things I could do to gain her trust and love back. I could avoid showing anger at my wife in her presence and relieving my wife off some of the many roles she played. I could also come home early and help with homework while she cooked.
Though I was grateful for the advice, I was sad for being an “away” father .I apologized to my wife, squashed our issues and told her about the chat with my friend and promised to win our daughter’s trust. I think I have succeeded. My wife says I have. My daughter shows us the same amount of love and trust and it is now difficult to tell who she is closest to. There is nothing she tells her mum that I do not know and vice versa. I hope fathers will learn a thing or two from my experience.

November 15, 2019

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