About 17 months ago, a baby girl was born. Her entry into the world, after close to 36-hours of labour, was also a ‘coming to birth’ for her father, Bruce Muchelule.
For the first-time and his wife, the news that they were expecting brought with it an excitement he had never experienced before. But, as the due date approached, the excitement slowly morphed into nervousness.
For a person who is always prepared, he realized he did not have any experience to refer to.
Secondly, whenever he reached out to his father, male relatives and close friends, who are fathers, all he got in response was “You’ll be fine; you will figure it out”.
Unlike his wife, who got support and guidance from her mother, aunties and friends, Bruce faced a major challenge in his transition into fatherhood. There were limited opportunities for him to learn about his new role as a father.
Like Bruce, many new parents often rely on the proverbial “village” to raise children – from family to networks of friends. It is a bit easier for new mothers who can refer to various support groups—in person and virtually—and prenatal fitness classes for advice, information and experiences of other moms. But the same was not available for the anxious expectant fathers.
The necessity to fill this gap led him to Twitter, a journey of several scrolls through tweets, accounts and hashtags, and it dawned on him that there were many other ‘soon-to-be’ and new fathers like him looking for answers on fatherhood. It was evident that men like him were looking for a platform to share ideas, challenges, solutions and experiences of being fathers.
With no response to his tweet for such a group, he solved the problem. Eight months after his daughter was born, Dad’ing Different—a support group for fathers on WhatsApp—took its first breath.
The group, where the fathers share their day-to-day parenting experiences, has been instrumental in Bruce’s fatherhood journey.
“I am not afraid to make mistakes. Neither am I as nervous as I was because I know there are other dads like me out there,” says Bruce.
Watch Bruce’s story about the lessons his daughter, barely two years old, has taught him about being a father.