'My father severely abused me – but I'm going to raise my kids differently'


I am a young man with hopes of getting married and having children one day. I hope to learn to love my family, spend a lot of time with them and do my best to make sure that I reprimand my children in a way that will build them.

This is because while I was growing up, my father used to beat me up every time I made a mistake.


He would hit me with fists, a sjambok and anything he could find. Not that I didn’t want to be disciplined, but I felt like it would’ve been much better if he warned me never to make the same mistake again.

He would also call me names like stupid, useless or other derogatory terms in front of my friends. This not only hurt me, it also affected my self-esteem and demotivated me. As a result, I feared him more than I respected him.

We didn’t have any of those conversations that ordinary fathers and their sons have. I did not hate my father, but I definitely never had the heart to love him.

Read more: Black single fathers: a forgotten, but ever-present phenomenon

Big-hearted uncles 

As I got into my teens, I did not want to spend time with other children and felt like I was a loser and wasn’t worthy of having friends.

I became an antisocial, gloomy, bitter and unhappy child because of my father’s hostility towards me.

The only upside was that he had two brothers, my uncles, who were very different from him. They were approachable, and I had many meaningful and fruitful conversations with them.

They were kind and big-hearted towards their children too. I learnt a lot from my uncles, and most importantly, they helped destroy the monster that my father was creating in me. I learnt to become softer and less reserved.

Read more: Local celebrity dads on their journeys into fatherhood

Not all men are dogs 

Because of my father’s rudeness, I would have been tempted to believe all men are dogs too. However, these two wonderful uncles of mine showed me that not all men are cold, unsympathetic and malicious.

Had they not been present in my life, I would have grown up to be an angry and bitter monster. The worst thing is that I would have passed this on to my loved ones when I have a family of my own.

So I think parents, especially fathers, should have more conversations with their children and make sure they are not making monsters of their children. Moreover, children who find it hard to speak with their parents must open up to other family members whom they trust. This could change their lives.

*Not his real name

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