Nollywood actor, Mr. Segun Arinze, shares some of his experiences as a father with MOTUNRAYO JOEL.
What were things the things that prepared you for fatherhood?
Does anything really prepare one for fatherhood? It is a responsibility that just comes on one – it is mounted on a man when his wife becomes pregnant. One no longer has the freedom to behave as one wishes. As a man, you begin to prepare your mind towards the fact that you are bringing another life into this world, hence you need to be responsible and be a role model to your child. There is no school that prepares one for fatherhood. It is a role one learns overtime through personal experiences and teachings from one’s parents. Once you have a child, your world revolves around that child.
Would you say you nursed any fears prior to your becoming a father?
I wouldn’t say I nursed fears. Obviously, it is inevitable for me not to think about how I would provide for my child and the type of society and environment the child will grow up in. But you realise that with the help of God, things fall into place. I also thought about how I would balance work and family. I understood that I needed to contribute my quota to raising a child who would become a responsible figure in the society. Also, I know that whenever my child gets out of line, I need to correct him or her.
When did you become a father?
My eldest son will be 24 soon. That is when I became a father, and I must say, becoming a father for the first time, was a wonderful experience.
How did you feel when you held your son for the first time?
I felt good; I was excited to hold all my kids for the time. Welcoming a child is a blessing. All one can think about is showering one’s love on the child. For the mere fact that a child is a gift freely given, makes the whole experience more special.
How do you discipline your children whenever they do wrong?
Sometimes, I spank my kids but I don’t see spanking as a way to correct kids whenever they misbehave. I prefer to talk to them. When I talk to them, they listen. My second and third sons are six and five respectively. Whenever they misbehave and I talk to them about their wrong acts, they listen. And when I take things from them because they err, they cry. I prefer to do that rather than beat them. I also make sure that I don’t yell at them. I do the same with my grown up kids. I talk to them whenever they misbehave.
Are you saying you don’t believe in the saying that ‘spare the rod, spoil the child?’
The world has evolved. These days whether you spare the rod, bend or break it, a stick will always be a stick. But when a child errs and you have a heart-to-heart talk with your child, the child will correct his or her wrong act. It is the same with animals. There is a limit to how one can beat an animal. If you are caught going overboard, you will be arrested. Animals have their rights. I believe in talking to caution a child.
How do you react whenever your children make you angry?
My children know me. Once I look at them in a particular way, they behave well.
What ideals did you imbibe from your father which you are passing on to your children?
The values I learnt from my father are to be straightforward and principled. I was taught to always tell the truth no matter the situation. I was also taught not to be aggressive and not to engage in fights. Though there are times one needs to stand one’s ground. When I was child, another kid always bullied me and prevented me from playing football. I was only comfortable playing football when he wasn’t around. One day, he arrived on the football pitch and he asked me to leave but I didn’t. We got into a fight. I did not know I had such inner strength. I beat him. But I tell my kids to always report to their teachers in school whenever any child tries to bully them.
What have been some of your greatest challenges as a father?
It has been a learning process. As a father, you learn every day. You learn to know when your child is ill, the child’s body language and many other behavioural patterns. You learn to control a child who is vibrant and bold. For example, my youngest is vibrant; he can say anything in public. We had to learn how to caution him. People may have laughed at his words but we needed to caution him not to say some things in public. I teach my kids etiquette rules. As parents, we need to realise that how our kids behave in public is a replica of their upbringing.
What lessons has fatherhood taught you?
It has taught me to be patient. One of the worst things a parent can experience is to miss bonding with their kids in their childhood. You need to be there to watch them grow. They make you laugh, cry, angry and do things that get you scared.
What special gifts have you given your children?
Every day is special. I try on a daily basis to give my children words of wisdom and encouragement. I also try not to miss their birthdays, but whenever I do, I compensate them. I instill the right values in them. Whenever I’m at home with them, I do their homework with them.
Are there things you would have loved to do differently as a father?
Whenever I err, I correct my act. No father is perfect.
Which of your children is showing interest in acting?
I have not really observed that interest in any of them, but my second son seems to be gravitating towards that line of profession. Sometimes, I see him holding a microphone and singing. I will definitely support the child but I would first ensure the child earns a degree. Education is the best legacy.
How do you balance work and family considering your work schedule?
In Nigeria, it is a tough task but it is something that has to be done whether one likes it or not or else, one area will suffer.
How do you appreciate your wife?
I call her often whenever I’m not at home. I appreciate her in a lot of ways. She is a super woman.
What is the most romantic gift you have bought for your wife?
I have bought her many gifts but she always knows whenever I want to surprise her with a gift. She always prefers I channel the money into something else. But when I’m determined to do something, nothing can stop me. I love her so much. I love her as a wife and the mother of my children. I see her as my sister.
Do your children enjoy watching the movies you featured in?
Yes, they do but they are still young. They have not fully grasped my profession.
What advice do you have for fathers?
They should stay focused, patient and prayerful. They should speak good words into the lives of their children. They should constantly talk to God about their children. Prayer is important and they should never curse their children. I believe in prayers.
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