Joint parenting? Not in age of internet

Father and son bonding. (Courtesy/iStockphoto)

Last week, I witnessed a strong contender for the most woke nonsense in a year full of good candidates.

There is this gentleman, a former side-stepper and breaker of tackles, who found a second career in crushing garlic cloves with his bare hands, whipping up delicacies in his backyard and delivering chapo/beef to street children in Nairobi.

It is inspiring stuff. I cannot cook shirtless like the roaming chef, primarily because I’m terrified of sizzling oil scalding my nipples. But as soon as I move to the leafy suburbs where I have access to a backyard, I will be following the man’s steps.

Anyway. The gentleman, seemingly not content with two solid careers, has gone and gotten himself a third job. In what I can only assume to be a move to dethrone Larry Madowo, he has been campaigning to build a reputation as a ‘Super Dad’.

You see, the side-stepping culinary master has a self-admitted inability to pull out. He is a proud father of one, and a second is on the way, if you still don’t believe the man is a winner. His son, who just turned one, is a regular on his old man’s social media. It helps that he is cute, and can rock the hell out of a bowtie. It also helps that he eats just about anything, which ties perfectly into his father’s second hobby. And so, recently, the former breaker of tackles, culinary wizard and super-dad shared a few recipes with which he likes to surprise his son’s taste buds.

Fish, for instance, flavoured and made with love. Just because the rest of us have been keeping our infants on a steady diet of mashed potatoes and cereal (“Fanya ‘aah’ ama nichape!”) doesn’t mean everyone has to, right?

Well, apparently not. The social media know-it-alls descended, with typical outrage. How dare he feed his child solid food? What was that? Did he actually season the food? Oh, the sheer effrontery of the man! You mean he actually put active thought into preparing a toddler’s meal, instead of absentmindedly throwing things in a blender? We have to cancel him immediately.

It was a silly conversation. There was even an attempt to steer it into woke activism, with one of the so-called career parents demanding that the boy be turned vegan with immediate effect. Her own children were ‘born vegan’, you see, so she must have known what she was talking about. But I was fascinated by the realisation that children are no longer as communal as they used to be. Once upon a time, kids were raised by the village. You knew everyone within a 10-block radius of your rental, so all the children in the neighbourhood were part of a collective parenting nest.

If you saw your neighbour’s son hanging around shifty teens, you did not have to wait to meet his old man in a bar to snitch. You could walk right up to the child and drag him home by the ear. There was an accepted way of raising kids, and if you got it wrong, the community would let you know.

Everyone was passively responsible for everyone else’s children, all the way up to adulthood when they would then match them up and demand grandchildren. Not anymore, though. Everyone knows a better way, or a different way. The internet has created experts in all fields, including parenting. We are no longer winging it, just figuring things out as we go.

No, every stage of your child’s development now has a litany of YouTube think pieces dedicated to it. “Need to sleep train? In this video, we will show you how. Just subscribe, hit the notification bell and skip all eighteen ads.”


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