Happy New Year! I’m so glad you made it to 2023! We’ve just made it past the festive season, which was a time for family and togetherness. I bumped into funny content trolling the father’s side of the family and it got me thinking, “why do kids not like the father’s side of the family?” And I might have figured it out.
Firstly, answer privately, as the father’s side, do you think you have created an environment that people want to be in? Have you done your very best to ensure that all family feuds are managed properly? I know you probably thought I’d leave the blame on the women but, nah. There’s only so much that women can do to fix the family issues. In the spirit of strengthening family bonds, I just want to ask with love, “does your son want to bring his new family and the mother of his kids into your presence?”
When I worked at C2, a colleague of mine taught me the Shona adage, “Kusina Mai hakuendwe.” This means, “don’t go to places where your mother will not be.” This was in response to my landlord woes and the struggle of being a tenant. I genuinely missed my mother’s house. Using this adage as a foundation, kids do not like the father’s side of the family because mom doesn’t like the father’s side of the family.
I’m not sure how to explain the makoti’s (daughter-in-law) struggle but, if we ask any makoti her top places to spend the festive season, her in-laws’ will not be in the top 5. This is simply because it’s non-stop action of chores and running around. So if she doesn’t enjoy being there, why would the kids enjoy being there. In Shona, they say “musha mukadzi.” This loosely translates to “the woman is the home.” For the sake of this blog post, we will define it as, “a woman maketh a home.”
When you were growing up, did you ever notice how the atmosphere of the home was determined by your mother’s mood? She was the thermostat of the home. If she was happy, the house was warm and wonderful. If she was unhappy, the home was cold and inhabitable. You didn’t have to wait for her to tell you her mood, you’d feel it. It’s the same here. If the mother is uncomfortable at the in-laws’, the kids will pick up on that and also avoid that place to protect mom’s mood.
This leads to less frequent visits to the father’s side and this further exacerbates the problem because how do you build a relationship with someone you never get to see? Now, every time the kids go to the father’s side, it’s awkward because they are forcing things with people they barely even know.
I went to my father’s funeral without my mother. (Remember kusina Mai hakuendwe?) It was such a trying time, and I didn’t get an opportunity to sit down and discuss the funeral with my Mom. I just went. Why in the world did I think that people who disrespected my mother would treat me any differently? I painfully came to understand why my mother couldn’t have possibly attended the funeral and why, by extension, I shouldn’t have either. I went there because they say you need closure when someone passes away. The price of closure was expensive. I walked away with more pain than before.
Before I get too emotional, let’s wrap it up. As the father’s side of the family, it’s up to you to make the new bride feel welcome in the family. When she feels like she is part of the family, you can avoid all the discomfort of being the “father’s side.” Let’s stop this cycle of sharing surnames with people who want nothing to do with us.