Daddy Issues (Part 1)

Daddy Issues (Part 1)

By Daddy Issues I’m not talking about big-boned Lucy stuffed inside a little black dress calculating “fellatio ratio”, mouth balls deep on a boner in the club VIP just to cop a hug from an elderly. No. Neither am I talking about 5 am and mighty young Joe, chest heaving and fist clenched, standing over Lucy and her broken jaw. She knows she deserves it. No.

By Daddy Issues, I’m actually talking about the issues that men who have fathered children face and possess. I have talked about the concept of broken fathers in Black Father Syndrome. The elephant in the room is how did they become like this. What happened to our fathers, for their collective shortcomings and their consequences to even HAVE a name?

My son turns 5 tomorrow. He’s growing up. He understands more. His questions are becoming more real. My answers are getting dodgier. I’m asking myself more questions and finding fewer answers. What happened to YOUR father? Yes, YOU! Are you able to see what ‘pushed him over the edge’? I don’t think any guy grew up looking forward to being a crap father. Neither did Sam. Well, until he nutted some random chick raw at some party. Is that how it starts? I sometimes try to imagine, that moment, when a guy makes that decision, to just fuck off, teary little eyes burning into his back. I watch Khumbul’ekhaya and see how there always seems to be some logical explanation.

My family isn’t too happy with my parenting style. ‘You are breaking too many rules and creating too many untested ones’, my doctor tells me. My approach is too theoretical, I’ve been told. I was 25 when my son was born. For me, and those like me, there’s a big divide between the old guard and how we ‘feel’ is the right approach to fatherhood. For one, just being there, as a father, is not an achievement within itself. “Whatchu you want, a cookie? You s’posed to be there!” – Chris Rock. We also have access to a vast amount of information and technologies that heavily impact our lives. So what we young, modern, educated fathers do is that we use this information and technologies to recreate a new model of fatherhood. I mentioned to my aunt that it’s like an experiment. It pissed her off. “You can’t experiment with a child’s life”. True. Her assumption is that by doing this I will most definitely impart proper papa pains to the nig’let.

As I said, there’s a (relatively) big gap between how we were raised and how we want to raise our young’n. There’s a big missing link, to such an extent that many guys base their entire career as parents using absolutely no reference to those who came before them. Many men are the ‘first generation’ of fathers in their families.

“I’ve never been a parent before but I’ve been someone’s child my whole life. Amateur parent, expert child.” Is this a valid proposition to make?

So what do we do? Well, maybe it’s something we can do together. Also, to come up with a way forward, we need to start at the beginning. So, let the story begging: one day, one-day mfana, there was a guy called Mandla… [tbc]

Writer: Vus Ngxande        Photographer: Khumbelo Makungo