Hi - my name is Kate; I am a gender expert, writer, and Advisor for the Gender Equality subgroup at Fathering Together. To celebrate Father’s Day and #MoreThanANecktie, I’m talking to 10 dads over 10 weeks about what it really means to be an engaged father. If you like this series, you can read more on gender (in)equality. Website. Twitter.
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Ages of Kids: 11 and 13
I asked every dad I interviewed what they thought about the term “caregiving” as it relates to being a father. Francis agrees that sure, part of being a father is giving care to your child. In that way the term caregiver resonates with him. But Francis believes that parenting is more than meeting those basic needs. Being a father also means mentoring your kid(s) and providing them the tools they need to become the people they are meant to be.
A lesson learned in work/life balance. Francis has always valued his career. After completing his master’s degree, he got a job in a large energy company and quickly moved up the ladder, eventually becoming the Manager of Human Resources. He likes working and believes in what he does. So, when kids came along, it was important to find a balance between work and family. Francis works to maintain time for his kids without work interruptions. He says that the time of day has changed over time, to suit their ages and their schedule. But they’ve always maintained time during the week days – and reserved Sundays as family days. Once that became a habit, it was easy to continue – even into his girls’ teenage years.
Advice on introducing your kids to your work. Francis believes it is important to share his work with his girls to show them this part of his life. Francis admits that most adults spend a big portion of our life working; this is just our reality. And he likes that the girls know about that side of him. He believes this helps his kids understand where he goes every day, who he spends that time with, and what he does during working hours. In 2019 when he took a new job, Francis brought both girls into the office for a full tour. He wanted them to see his office, sit in his chair, and learn about what he does. He told me this helped build greater trust between himself and his girls, and he likes that his kids understand this part of who he is.
My favorite quote from Francis’ interview: “Kids are the best philosophers. I ask them “why” all the time. And then I listen to them for as long as they need to speak. I don’t stop them. This is how they develop and grow.”