Towards a great father-son bond

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 01:07 | By
Boniface Kagiri poses for a photo with John Nathan, after a successful hike. PD/Harriet James

When Boniface Kagiri, a sales professional and a father of two boys noticed how his wife, Joan Wanjiku  was overwhelmed taking care of their two sons. He thought he had to find a way to assist and hence began taking them for camping during weekends to allow his wife some time to rest. 

He would then share his experiences with his friends and they thought that it was great to have a get-together as dads with boys. With that, ‘Mothers Delight’ was formed in 2014. 

“I named it ‘Mother’s Delight’ because it was intended to give mothers a break as dads bond with the boys. The first camp was attended by 12 dads and 20 children. This original group of fathers had a big role in urging me to do more and more and they invited their friends in the subsequent camps,” he narrates.  

Kagiri was also inspired by his childhood memories with his father, Paul Kagiri,  who was a Kenya Football Federation referee. 

Changing the role of a father

“I remember he used to take us to soccer matches. In the process,  we spend time together and we had countless opportunities to be taught about life by him. This is something I thought was good to replicate,” he continues. 

The role of fathers in their families has evolved from conceptions of fathers as distant breadwinners to a more holistic recognition that they are equal co-parents.  It is usually said that men need men to grow up and learn about being a man. Boys need real connections and a fatherly bond to be able to grow into responsible men and learn more about their identity. Involved fatherhood is linked to better outcomes on nearly every measure of child wellbeing, from cognitive development and educational achievement to self-esteem and pro-social behaviour. Fathers provide a positive male role model for their children and help to promote/reinforce good behaviours. As a result, children with more involved fathers tend to have fewer behavioural and impulse control problems, longer attention spans and a higher level of sociability.

And with such crisis, various groups are coming up to help fathers bond with their sons and also train men to become better. ‘Mothers Delight’ essentially aims at ensuring that dads spend quality time with their children in an outdoor setting and through many activities. A typical camp would start on Friday evening with people settling in for dinner and children playing games and roasting maize for their dads. Saturday mornings is for educational activities such as visiting factories, teaching first aid, learning about wildlife or even farming. But these activities normally depends on what camp site they visit. 

“Saturday afternoon finds us hiking at the trails that are near the campsite and thereafter, we retreat to camp for a church service and dinner. Later in the evening, fathers would do some bonding and business networking over a bonfire. Sunday mornings is left for fun activities available at the camp: from rafting to zip lining to wall climbing, to course obstacles. We also make at least one meal with our children while camping,” Kagiri adds. 

Nurturing future leaders

The team also has hiking activities throughout the year, which normally culminate into a climb up point Lenana in Mt Kenya with the children. Additionally, there are talks for the dad’s on various topics such as finances, technology and relationships to help guide men towards being strong and responsible dads. So far, they have had over 40 camping expeditions in 20 different locations and the meets have impacted more than 160 families. The programme usually runs during school holidays. 

“When you get out of your comfort zone, it not only helps you see how your children can deal with challenges, but it also helps them to grow and learn some skills and lessons they would never learn at home or school. When you have to pitch up a tents at camp together and make breakfast together, you are able to observe various traits in your child,” he says.

The cost ranges between Sh20,000 and Sh25,000, which caters for a father and his two sons. There is an extra cost when one has more than two children. 

“We desire to create future leaders of families who can ensure psycho-social stability of their children. Men must be mentored to work hard, be resilient, be courageous and to provide for their families. We must ensure we pass on the basic values and virtues of life to create a well-balanced society and most importantly, to create a system that ensures that these values are passed on from generation to generation,” he explains. 

Kagiri believes that it is important to mentor both girls and boys. “When one of them, either a man or a woman is off, the family is off. It is crucial that we as fathers get to take our position and mentor our children in the right way,” he says. 

Apart from the challenge of logistics, creating activities and planning the camping expeditions, Kagiri is happy about the impact that he is bringing in families and the fact that most of the families come back to the camping expeditions. “Parenting is more of sharing and seeing than telling children the dos and don’ts. When your children see how you react in different situations, they learn resilience, patience as well as creativity, which are all important life skills,” he says. 

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