Sanjay Pennant – a model father
"You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they'll turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes"
- Walter M. Schirra, Sr
Boys who grow up without the presence of their father, or a father figure, will tell you of the great emptiness they feel or that they may portray anger as a means of suppressing the hurt.
It has been proven that many social ills are as a result of the absence of fathers in their children's lives, and so fathers who have acknowledged and accepted their responsibilities to mould a life positively must be commended.
Sanjay Pennant knows what it feels like to have the support of a father and realises that as a father himself, the very same is required of him.
"The primary way that dads can help their boys understand that they matter is by making them a priority over the myriad demands that life throws at us and being there for the milestones. Nurturing means a lot of things. It certainly includes affection and attention on a daily basis and telling them that we love them. But it also includes taking care of their daily needs like cooking for them, giving them baths, playing with them, reading to them, and helping their mothers."
He continued: "I have discovered that despite the conventional wisdom that nurturing is primarily mom's territory, the root meaning of nurture is 'to protect', a role that most dads are comfortable with. A father should let his son know that he is very important to him and should express how proud he is of him. Teach him important lessons, develop strong communication skills, and be a fair disciplinarian."
The young father and music producer-audio engineer told Family and Religion that as young as his son is, they have already established a strong bond.
"From birth, my son and I have developed a strong connection that allows us to communicate everywhere and anywhere, and I understand his goofy baby talk. When my son is sick, miserable, excited, hungry, needs to be changed, or in need of something, I can tell. It's like I can read his mind. He knows his father when he sees a picture, or if I'm in front of him, or skyping him on his tablet."
"Second to none" is how Pennant describes the news of being told he would become a dad.
"Even if you are lucky enough to have planned to have a baby, the moment you find out is a series of extreme mixed emotions. My girlfriend and I had planned to get pregnant, so I had expected to be thrilled when I received the news. When she told me, it was like I got hit by a truck - a soft marshmallow truck filled with wishes, but a fast-moving extremely large truck nonetheless."
Having heard news of his close friends losing their babies, there was much fear of the unknown, but with the support of his immediate family, Pennant soon gleefully continued the preparation process.
"I can remember clearly that on November 27, 2014, around 1:25 p.m. Jamaica time and 7:25 p.m. United Kingdom time, I received a call from my girlfriend's phone, and to my surprise, it was her cousin, who said, 'Sanjay, the baby is coming, Sanjay, the baby is coming and her water jus' broke and we going to the hospital now.' I was shocked because I wasn't expecting my son to come so early, and I felt happy but worried at the same time because I wanted a smooth delivery and I was not there to support or witness it for myself.
"I was sad for a bit. I called back the phone a few times and no answer. I was terrified and pensive, hoping for a safe delivery. In the next hour, I got a picture on my phone via WhatsApp from my girlfriend showing the sweetest baby boy I'd ever seen. Later, a video followed. I was overwhelmed. it was a moment of relief, amazement and shock, too. I stared at him for hours, threw some kisses over the phone, and repeatedly said 'Zhion I love you'"
Now he lives for daddy duties.
"I feed him, I bathe him, change him, get him dressed, walk him, play with him, sing with him, show him the utmost affection, and drive him around, sit and try to watch cartoon shows with him and dance a little when I hear those sing-along songs come on and he tends to follow. My son is energetic and tends to move around a lot so I follow him like a police officer who is on patrol duties. Being a parent is a fun task and a learning process that I think is geared towards improving and developing your life. It's really important that both mother and father play equal roles in parenting to develop and improve a child's education, health care, and discipline."
Believing that fathers who have left their children should do everything in their power to make amends and return to their lives, Pennant believes that added strength must be sought from God.
"I realise now that as much as I wish for every good thing for my son, I can only do so much. Everything else I leave in God's hands. My wish for my son is for him to have a good relationship with God Almighty; a good relationship with us, his family; good health: to live his life with love for others and himself; humility to accept things he cannot control; compassion and understanding for others, hunger for knowledge; and that he'll treat all with respect."