Recent developments in our space have brought up the issue of doing DNA tests on children to the fore. The DNA test is meant to confirm the paternity of the children. What is DNA? DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid. Both parents supply the DNA of a child; that is where the genes of the child are warehoused.
Genes are units of heredity, which are transferred from a parent to offspring and are held to determine some characteristics of the offspring. The implication is that everyone inherits the DNA of both parents. Let us ignore other technical jargons of DNA and concentrate on why DNA tests to determine paternity has become an issue.
According to Wikipedia, “a DNA expert from Lagos University Teaching Hospital claimed that 30 per cent of the Nigerian men who went to paternity testing centers (paternity testing laboratories) were not the biological fathers of the children in their custody.” While this figure is not representative of the Nigerian population, 30 per cent remains a high figure.
About six years ago, the manufacturers of Durex condoms conducted a survey, which showed that Nigerian wives are the most unfaithful in the world. How they came about this result and how we came first in this list of shame are still inexplicable to me because we are supposedly a very religious, conservative and traditional society.
Infidelity puts a knife on one of the fundamental threads that hold marriages in place: trust. What is trust? Trust, in the context of marriage, is a belief that your spouse is good, reliable and honest. Marriage is based on trust. If you do not trust the person you want to get married to, do not go ahead.
That is my gospel to everyone preparing for marriage. But some go ahead because of lust, desperation or the belief that they can change their potential spouse. I have also said severally that in marriage, expect change from only one spouse: you. You have no right to demand that your spouse should change from what you knew before marriage to fit your expectations. So, if you take your korokoro eyes enter one-chance marriage, anything you see inside, take.
But some of these cases, leading to DNA tests to determine the paternity of the children, have nothing to do with trust at the time of wedding. The breach of trust happened after the marriages commenced. Breach of trust shatters spouses; it strips the husbands naked in public.
There are few things as traumatising as unknowingly bringing up another man’s children, thinking they are yours. I can never understand why some wives are so callous and mean to husbands they profess to love. I watched a man weeping profusely on television after finding out that the 37-year-old man he had called son from birth is not his biological son. It was a very sad sight.
When push comes to shove, every husband or man in doubt has every right to do DNA test to confirm the paternity of his “children.” Why spend the rest of your life in doubt and torment? It is physically and mentally draining. But not every man needs to do tests to confirm the paternity of his children. For some, res ipsa loquitur (the fact speaks for itself). I saw a man with an unusual shape of head in a church one day. His three sons with him had the same unusual shape of head. What does he need a paternity test for?
My eldest daughter came to me and accused me of passing on my “scattered teeth” to her. She also accused me of passing on my poorly-shaped legs to her. She did not stop there, when we travelled home on a short holiday, she examined her grandmother’s legs carefully and exclaimed: “Mama, so you gave my father the ugly legs that he passed on to me.”
Beyond our striking facial resemblance, we have other similar features. Why do I need a DNA to confirm that she is my daughter? Two of my sons are replicas of their older cousins (my brother’s children). Situations like these are the res ipsa loquitur.
But there are some husbands, who look like they were spectators rather than participants in the production of their children. The children look like, and have all the features of, their mothers, but no visible features to link them with their fathers. Those are some of the situations that breed suspicions.
Even worse, the children may have some features of their mother’s ex or a boss or colleague in the office. For such men, if you are in doubt, find out. But I advise such men to do it discreetly so that if it is false alarm, they can carry on as if nothing happened. If you accuse your wife falsely, it can set your home on fire. The wounds of such distrust scarcely heal. I have heard of a wife, who asked for divorce, on grounds of distrust, after the DNA results returned negative.
But every husband whose mind is in turmoil has a duty to put his mind at rest. I know of a man, who had some suspicion about one of his children, who looked different from the rest of his children at birth and in infancy. He had a discussion with the wife. She was not angry about her husband’s suspicion, but had a good laugh. He assured the man that the baby was his; that she had never cheated on him.
The boy is now a teenager and the features of the father have manifested; he also looks like the older siblings. Please have a heart-to-heart talk with your wife. If you are still unconvinced, do a DNA test discreetly instead of dying of high blood pressure. Some men decide to allow sleeping dogs lie. If you are comfortable that way, so be it.
There was a photo of a Zambian couple with their little baby that went viral. Their baby looked every inch Chinese, and the wife works with the Chinese. Coincidence? The husband claimed the baby is his, so it is. Abi you want swallow paracetamol for another person headache?
But one sure way of nipping this problem in the bud is to engage in natural family planning and baby sex pre-selection with your wife. Here you track her monthly cycle together. With a little investment in knowledge, patience and discipline, you will know when to engage in intercourse if you want a male or female child.
If you do that, you know when the baby was conceived, so there is no room for suspicion later. Natural family planning means the wife will not use any artificial methods of birth control. It also means couples will stay off sexual intercourse when the wife is unsafe, except they want a baby at that time.
It also means the couple will stay off sex to avoid confusion in the last five days preceding ovulation, learn a little more about reproduction, the X and Y chromosomes and timing of intercourse to determine the sex baby you want: boy or girl. You need to make a little sacrifice but the gains are overwhelming: determining the sex of your children and certainty of paternity. I am a living witness.