Editors note: Every year at BN, we celebrate fathers, not just because it is Father’s Day, but because we understand that fatherhood is a journey of profound responsibility and immeasurable joy and one men never graduate from. We acknowledge the vital role that fathers play in our society and the significant influence they have on shaping the lives of their children.
In this part of the world, women are expected to be the primary carers of the children, and it is refreshing to see more fathers pick up this responsibility. So it is with excitement that we bring you the story of Abiodun Sule who is a stay-at-home dad and primary carer of the children, and who also shepherds a Celestial Church of Christ parish. His story is one of love, patience and responsibility – some of the hallmarks of fatherhood.
This is a Father’s Day special edition of the Doing Life With Series. Enjoy!
Hi Abiodun, how are you feeling today?
I am doing well and fine. Thank you for asking.
Great! Can you walk us through a typical day in your life as a father?
I am a morning person. I wake up very early in the morning with good energy. I would listen to at least two different messages, sermons mostly, and then any motivational speech or book. Then I can do some walking or any other exercise, depending on how I feel. Afterwards, I prepare the kids and take them to school. And again, I return to pick them up from school after closing hours. While the kids are in school, I am back to my ministerial work. But most times, I would have to go to the church. I do most of my interaction and ministerial work online. And in the church, I have assistants. So it is easy to work around these things.
Being a stay-at-home is an unconventional practice, especially in this part of the world. Tell us a little about your fatherhood journey and what factors influenced your (family’s) decision to be a stay-at-home dad
Oh, fatherhood is not what just happens to you. I mean, there is the process of pregnancy, and the preparation starts from there. I had my first baby, a girl, on June 16, 2011. Yesterday was her birthday and she is now 12 years old. We had her in Ukraine where my wife and I were both schooling. I was studying Information Systems and Computer Technology, while she was studying Medicine. My work schedule in school was much more flexible than my wife’s so it was easy for me to be the primary carer of our baby girl. This was how it all started until we had our three girls. I started working full-time as a clergyman around 2018. This gave me more time with the family than my wife who was working as a medical doctor. And of course, it’s my home and making extra sacrifices was an easier decision.
Interesting! How do you create lasting memories with your children?
I ensure every day and every moment counts.
Tell us more
Sometimes, it is not that easy to have a special day outing, but that is my wife’s speciality: planning a day out. My wife is a very busy person and me too sometimes, so we make sure every minute counts. When I am home, I am home, and I try as much as possible to make them enjoy my presence.
That’s impressive! What are some challenges you face as a father? How do you overcome them?
Uhmmm, this part. The thing is I am very good with people. I know that very well. But sometimes I feel I am not doing enough with my kids. Now this is me judging myself. So, sometimes I just keep doing my best and get feedback from the kids. I mean, I attend all their school engagements, and I try to give a very good listening ear and be sure I’m there for them. Also, finance can be another issue for a clergyman, but it is no longer like the early days when it was a struggle.
Does being a stay-at-home dad influence your perspective on fatherhood and your approach to parenting?
Not really. I don’t believe any work or any endeavour should be a gender thing. Like I tell my wife: In marriage, we are both responsible. If the man sees the snake (the use of snake here is figurative), let him kill it and if it is the woman that sees it first, she should do the same. The key here is taking responsibility, being responsible and making the best decision for the family.
You are a shepherd of a church, how do you manage both roles – being a shepherd and being the children’s primary carer – effectively?
It started way back when I was still a student, and it was even much more difficult then. Imagine having to care for a 3-month-old while also studying. I grew with that learning and gained more experience when I started my job. But it became more needful when I became a shepherd knowing my home is my first ministry. If you take a look at the scriptural requirement of a pastor: 1 Timothy 3:4 “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.” So, I am first a father before I am a pastor. And trust me, a good father would make a great pastor. It is the same principle: being responsible.
I agree. Do you believe that your faith and role as a shepherd influence your parenting style and the values you impart to your children?
I want my children to have the best version of me. Being a shepherd made me calmer and more accommodating, hence I also want my kids to enjoy that part of me. I remember a mentor telling me I need to make my kids love the God I serve. Here is why I have to try and be the best dad I can be. So, the kids, through me, would love the God I serve.
The reality is, in the end, I am first a father. So, I need to do everything possible to make sure my home is good and fine. The work of the ministry does not take time if one does not just bury himself in it. Sadly, most men of God get carried away and forget what is important.
That’s profound. Have you faced any misconceptions or stereotypes as a stay-at-home dad? How do you address them?
To be honest, not really. I think it was a time when my wife was a bit miffed by her family because of what she does, what I do and all. You know, she earns more than I do and carries the heavy financial weight. We had a conversation and I had to let her realise we have a family we are building together. It is unique to us.
Communication solves all things
Indeed, it does.
Fatherhood is constantly evolving and has changed through the years. What are some old-school parenting practices you believe fathers need to let go of?
Beating, this is my first, not just because of my Western exposure, but personally, I realised many parents beat out of their failed and troubled emotions.
Another is forcing your will on your kids. Most parents want their kids to be successful, especially where they have failed, but we have to realise that we all have our lives to live.
Are there parenting styles you and your wife chose to adopt or abide by for all or each of the children?
Oh yes! While dating, my wife would say, “No one can beat my kids.” We also agreed on giving the kids the best education; it’s our top priority and there can be no compromise on that.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge of parenting that surprised you?
Being sincere. This might sound kind of strange but it is true. I am a very sincere person, so when it comes to the attitudes my children exhibit, that I know I had when I was their age, I find it hard to complain about it. I simply feel, well… that was me. I mean, I did the same.
Haha, you’ve got a mini-you
One big lesson fathering 3 children with very distinct personalities has taught you?
The more the kids, the more the stress. Haha. I’d always wanted two, but now, I’ve got three!
Another is that your home and the kids come first. Every decision should be made putting them first or rather in mind. And truly, the kids will make you a better person, and as you grow, you come to appreciate what is happening in your life. Being a father also comes with great joy that will, sometimes, override the challenges.
One father-daughter moment you can never forget?
There are so many but one that I can’t forget is when my first daughter said to me: I love my daddy, he is a kind man. Really, that was so much for me.
Many thanks to Abiodun Sule and his family for being a part of the Doing Life With – Father’s Day edition. Doing Life With is a weekly interview series that delves into the everyday lives of people, exploring their diverse journeys and shedding light on the different ways they navigate the world. The series showcases how people live, what they do, what makes them happy or sad, their unconventional thought processes, and everything in between.
Want to be a part of it? Send an email to [email protected]