Rolando, being a responsible dad every day

Rolando Gonzalez Bravo, a 30-year-old Cuban young man, builds his fatherhood from affection and co-responsibility to guarantee the happiness of his daughter Skyler. He and 70 other fathers are joining monthly training workshops.

Lisandra Chaveco
Rolando, ser papá responsable cada día
Cortesía de la familia
15 September 2022

Nearly five years ago, the life of Rolando González Bravo changed. “My view of the world, of everyday matters, of my responsibility and of my way to value life were transformed. This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me”, he said about the experience of becoming the father of Skyler Grace González Bencomo, now a four-year-old child.

The 30-year-old doctor builds his responsible parenting since he and his wife confirmed they were bringing a life to the world. “It has been a two-person process. I’ve participated from the beginning of pregnancy, since we first got the news. It was something we both wanted and I was able to be there for prenatal consultations, ultrasounds and even the birth itself”, says the physician, who lives in the municipality of Camagüey, in the province of the same name.

Rolando is part of a still reduced percentage of fathers who participate in all the processes of their sons or daughters, especially in the first one thousand days of their lives.

The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) warns in its 2019 edition that only 3 out of 10 children in Cuba carry out learning activities with their father. In rural areas, only 25.3 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 4 receive parental support for their educational development.

In addition to “love”, “learning” is perhaps the other word Rolando more closely associates with fatherhood, because at every moment he accumulates experience and knowledge that allow him to be, beyond fears and uncertainties, a present father, very much involved in raising and educating his little one.

“Every initial step meant a great deal of learning, because the consultations of the Maternal and Child Care Program (PAMI) have a multidisciplinary approach; specialists from various branches of medicine participate and at every moment we learned and got important information”, he assures.

Likewise, he confesses that, out of those early moments, he lovingly remembers the instant when he got to see an ultrasound image of his baby. “It was the first time I saw a detailed image of my little girl. It was really exciting and I can say without a doubt that it was the most beautiful moment of the prenatal stage”.

Then, during delivery, they experienced the most intense feelings in Rolando’s memory. He still becomes emotional as he recalls the event, where he was able to give support to his partner and see Skyler being born in good health.

“Wow, I touched the sky and cried with joy. The birth of my little girl was the most beautiful moment in my life”, he stresses.

From the moment you wake up until you go to bed at night, life revolves, for the most part, around Sky. Everything acquires a different nuance, because there is a little person who totally depends on us, a responsibility that we carry with the greatest pride and happiness.
Rolando González Bravo
Cortesía de la familia

A present father

Rolando cherishes many photographs that will someday help in remembering the moments of joy they live as a family and which make a happy girl out of Skyler, who enjoys his father’s constant affection and care.

“From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, most of life revolves around Sky. Everything takes on a different nuance, because there’s this small person who completely depends on us, a responsibility we carry with the utmost pride and happiness”, remarks the doctor.

And though it’s all generally a learning process, because “nobody teaches us to be a father”, the daily routine and the active involvement at every moment make matters like bathing, feeding and developmental and educational activities increasingly easy.

“I’ve also enjoyed every stage of growth and stimulation, especially her first smile, the first words, when she learned to crawl or took her first steps. Although there are always moments of some tension, because a baby is a major responsibility, most of it has been about enjoyment”, he maintains.

In a home where both parents practice the complex profession of medicine, co-responsibility in housework and care is vital to achieve harmony and well-being. Skyler observes her dad getting involved in those tasks as a natural thing.

“I clean up, I cook or do the dishes, and the girl sees that we do those tasks cordially and pleasantly, so she wants to be a part of them too”.

Guides for dad

Rolando is one of the fathers who participate actively in awareness and training workshops on responsible parenting, coordinated by the Ibero-American and African Network of Masculinities (RIAM) and the community social program Educa a tu hijo (Educate your child), with the support of UNICEF Cuba.

In these spaces, as part of the activities in the social behavioral change strategy Father from the Beginning, he acquires information and knowledge, and he exchanges experiences with fathers from about a dozen Cuban provinces. Although he acknowledges he has found valuable guidance in other family members, friends and the Educa a tu hijo program, he believes that, in general, there’s a need to deal more with the issues of parenting.

“We need more information, so that all fathers, regardless of their educational and intellectual level or of the place where they live, can have the tools to enjoy this wonderful stage in life in a responsible way. When you interact with other fathers, you learn a lot, but you also realize there are gaps in knowledge.

“The Educa a tu hijo program has been a space for great learning”, Rolando adds. “It is fundamental as a previous step to school learning and I hope it can continue to develop, but it would be very good to have more spaces in television and radio where they explain fathers how to take on fatherhood in a positive way”, he urges.

“Con la pandemia todo ha sido un poco más complejo”
Cortesía de la familia

“The Educa a tu hijo program has been a space for great learning”, Rolando adds. “It is fundamental as a previous step to school learning and I hope it can continue to develop, but it would be very good to have more spaces in television and radio where they explain fathers how to take on fatherhood in a positive way”, he urges.

Rolando González Bravo

Being a dad during the pandemic

“With the pandemic, everything has been a little more complex”, says Rolando. However, the creativity, technology and communication applied by the Educa a tu hijo program with the families allowed them to continue with an adequate accompaniment of Skyler’s stimulation and development.

“We kept up the activities, because the promoter of the Educa a tu hijo program created a WhatsApp group where each activity is given and we publish the results. Additionally, we paid attention to the information offered by the TV program Tun tun, Hola familia.

“And we also created new ways for play and entertainment at home, with physical exercise routines. We bought and built many board games or adapted some ball games to play in reduced spaces”, he explains.

“Although replacing the activities we used to do outside was complex, we have managed to have the girl feel happy and stimulated.

“And the best part”, highlights Rolando, “is that we’ve done this with the equal participation of all members of the household”.