Sunday, November 3, 2013

Celebrate Fatherhood: Dad's the Difference | Guestpost by David, Daddy Education Officer

Sakura Haruka is not a blog just about celebrating motherhood. It shares the joys {& frustrations!} of parenting and of families as a whole. Inspired by my hubby's thoughts on being a dad, Celebrate Fatherhood is thus a monthly series where daddies from all walks of life share insights about what fatherhood means to them, and how we can appreciate their role in a family too.

I sincerely thank all those who took the time to guest post for me. Most of those I approached were very supportive and enthusiastic about this new series, sharing my belief that being an involved dad, and getting the dads involved, is important in building a strong family. If you have a story to share, please email me at sakuraharuka {at} live {dot} com.

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I remembered when I first felt like a Dad, a short-lived feeling that unfortunately didn't last too long. Unlike many new parents, my wife and I didn't have the luxury of bringing home our first-born after months of anxious and eager anticipation. Ashley and her twin brother, Joash arrived just shy of 25 weeks.

Joash, in fact, died in-utero and the fine team of surgeons at KKH tried their best to save Ashley from being delivered prematurely but God chose for her to be born at a tender age of 24 weeks - it was clear the odds were against us (her).

As her tiny frame laid in the incubator, I called out to her just like how I had done when she was in Mommy's tummy and…her finger moved; she responded to my calls! It was there that I felt and knew…I'm a Dad! I'm that special someone to a tiny life that we chose to bring to this world, to love, care and ultimately to have that special connection with...someone I could call my very own; someone whom I would spare no cost in giving my best to; someone who acknowledges me as her 'Daddy'.

Ashley lived for less than 24 hours in the NICU but I'll always remember and cherish that special moment she had with me and that unique perspective she had left for me.

We were blessed with Dana about a year later and I remembered what Ashley taught me - that Dana is a special gift, that against all odds, she is here. She’s ours to treasure, love and to form that special connection with as our child. Like all Daddies, I busied myself with parental duties and obligations. Thanks to Ai Sakura, her invite encouraged me to pause, reflect and take stock on my role, not only as a parent but more specifically as a Daddy: How am I a Daddy, to my daughter?

Living Life:

I'm a big fan of 'manly shows' - not mindless 'macho' shows like ‘Rambo’ but shows which display the essence of manhood. From the obvious show of physical strength like 'Gladiator' ', '300' and 'Braveheart' to those who show quiet resilience like 'Life is Beautiful' and ‘Courageous’ just to name a few. Daddies build resilience in their children. Both outward as well as inward strength - the latter, which involves issues of the heart are far more challenging to instill.

From learning to cycle, to swimming, I've taught her that there will be challenging tasks that need perseverance, strength and courage but she will not be alone. She’ll learn to conquer them one by one, with Daddy by her side. Before learning to cycle, I pre-warned her that she will fall, and I taught her strategies to break her fall. When teaching her swimming, I told her that she would struggle and sometimes swallow pool water. From as young as seven months, she travelled with us. Travelling not only builds physical resilience, it broadens her horizon. Before turning four, she had had her first swing from a 3-storey high trapeze...gleefully.

Internal resilience is far tougher. It not only involves the teaching of values but also requires us, the parents to live out those values everyday. We all know how fast kids pick things up from adults. As she grows older, external influences increase and hijack our efforts to shield her from worldly values. Though we live with a domestic help, Dana keeps her own dishes after meals, feeds herself, addresses Lyn as 'Auntie' and minds her P and Qs with the help. We've also had to regulate our conversations and actions around her to align with what we've preached. A Daddy teaches not only physical resilience but also inner strength and grace. Both are important fundamentals in this ever-challenging and complex world.

Loving Life:

Relationships are what hold us together. From mere acquaintances to lifelong companionships, we need them all. As a Daddy and a husband, it's important to love my wife - that is the most fundamental human relationship she sees and experiences daily and one that she, hopefully, be blessed with one day. As our marriage matures, I do sometimes take my wife for granted but I’ve learnt it's important to prioritize and set aside time for each other, to rekindle our romance and passion and, of course, when occasions arise, to render apologies to role model for our daughter.

Other important relationships include kinships with grandparents, aunts, cousins and extended family members. Relationships and friendships with others such as her classmates, neighbours, teachers, playmates, the helper, the security guards, the bus uncles and aunties etc. teach her to appreciate people and to a certain extent, gives her the opportunities to negotiate, empathize and reconcile – all critical social skills in life.

One other relationship that is most important is that with God. Religion, its values and teachings give us all a deeper significance in life. It strings our values together and affirms the purpose of one’s existence. For us, church and nightly bedtime prayers are sacred family traditions which we try to religiously uphold.

Finally, as a Daddy, the one relationship my daughter must learn to handle is one with the opposite gender. And who better to teach it then me - her Daddy. Someone said that a Daddy is her daughter's first love. How true. Daddies teach and show their daughters how a man should treat a young lady and model for her how a proper relationship with a man should be. Daddies can make or break his daughter’s self-esteem. I've kind of lost count on my 'dates' with Dana just to show her that she is special, she is well-loved, she is valued and she is precious in my eyes. Although it's challenging to carve out time, I'm not complaining and I would not trade anything in the world for it.

Lead in Life:

I heard a question once: How do you prepare your child for a future which you do not even know about? I pondered and my simple answer to that would be that for parents and especially Daddies (as the head of the household), to assume the lead in both in loving and living life. Only then will our children be prepared for what life throws at them, where life brings them and what life will give them. Daddies have to lead in leaving a good legacy for their daughters (or sons). A Dad has so much power to mould his children’s character and make that special connection with the world because truly, a Dad’s the Difference.

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David is husband to Angie and Daddy to Dana…although occasionally he does become a horse, a soldier, a clown, a tickling monster, a pirate etc :)

Daddies certainly play a very important role in the family, and that's the main reason why I started this series. They are important not just to the children, but to the wife as well. I'm thankful for the boy who has always been our pillar of strength, pool of love and source of comfort through all the ups and downs in life. If daddies are our daughters' first love, I'm very glad that Lil Pumpkin has the boy as her father. I can't think of anyone else who can replace his role.


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3 comments:

mail4rosey said...

This is such a beautiful post. It's so heartwarming to hear a daddy's perspective on parenting. I don't know why that is, but it certainly is true.

Thank you for sharing a part of your parenting story!

Ai Sakura said...

Yup appreciate all the dads who took the time and courage to share their stories! :)

Annaleis Topham said...

This is wonderful to share. I love David's thoughts on providing frameworks for all the new challneges your children meet - letting them know that it will be hard at first but eventually they will be able to do it with their Dad by their side. I hope this is how my children see their father too.