By Diguera Azoura
To celebrate UNICEF’s recently expanded parental leave policies, UNICEF CHAD has spotlighted super dads in the lead-up the UN Day of Parents & UNICEF’s first Parenting Month.
Joining this UNICEF campaign, Bandjim Nguendo Jacob, working in the UNICEF Chad office as a Finance Assistant, shares his story about the profound love and joy he went through while on his paternity leave taking care of his second child Salomon (1 year old now).
“I can’t explain in words the deep pride and happiness I experienced in taking on the role of father who is there for his son’s first days, and I am really grateful for this new parental leave policies which helped me to take up my new role”.
Jacob’s story is especially remarkable in a context of a country where taking care of the newborn is considered to be a special task for the mother and/or her family (mum — sister — aunt — etc.). Fathers are usually not at all involved in child care. Furthermore, in many parts of Chad, fathers mostly spend their time off chatting with their fellow friends or colleagues, and do not really feel the need to spend time with their newborn, be it taking care of it or just playing with it.
But this is not the case for our super dad Jacob who continues: “What I appreciated the most about my paternity leave is having enough time to have fun with my baby and take care of him; changing his diapers, cuddle with him … It allowed me to change my “normal” professional activities between 7 am and 6 pm”.
In this context of helping husbands better support their spouses after delivery, UNICEF has put in place family-friendly policies, including paternity leave to the benefit of both the newborn and the father.
“The baby is now accustomed to me and he loves playing with me. Watching him happy when I am around him proves that he really enjoys the paternal warmth; and as a parent I give him back what he needs,” adds Jacob with an undescriptive joy on his face.
While Jacob enjoyed his new “job”, his wife took advantage of this spare time to rest a bit, do some shopping or take care of other household chores.
“After my paternity leave, I continue to take care of my children. In the morning before going off to work I chat and play with them, and after work, when coming home I sit with them to tell stories, whilst also taking the time to discuss school with the eldest and check his schoolbooks,” Jacob adds proudly.
Jacob recounts how a day looked like when he was at home during his paternal leave. Before his leave, once he had finished his breakfast, Jacob used to rush to the office. But during his leave, his habits had to change as he had to feed the baby with his mother’s milk and he had to wash the diapers and clothes. And then the rest of the tasks were waiting for him.
Thanks to this valuable time spent with his kid, Jacob now knows how to make a comfy bed, change diapers, bathe the child and prepare milk. But more than that, what Jacob cherished the most was how important it is to just hold his son close to him and feel the instant love of being father; and just that was priceless to Jacob. Indeed, being a parent is an honor and every moment with a child is a privilege.
Being a parent is the most important job in the world and the first 1,000 days are without question the most important in a child’s life. But many parents don’t get the time and support they need to be with their children. Family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave, breastfeeding breaks and childcare, are not a reality for most new parents around the world. Indeed, being a parent is an honor and every moment with a child is a privilege.
That’s why UNICEF Parenting has been launched for one very simple reason: to help parents and caregivers give their children the best start in life.