Sunday, September 7, 2014

Celebrate Fatherhood: Ethan & I | Guestpost by Walter, Daddy Content Marketing Specialist

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.

What does being a dad mean? How has it changed my life?

For me, the journey began almost 11 years ago in end 2003 when my son Ethan was born. I still remember every single detail of that day with vivid clarity. It was about 1.50 pm in the afternoon when Ethan literally greeted us with a wink - one eye was open while the other remained shut. Covered in pink slime, he didn't really wail as loudly as many other babies. Instead, he wore a somewhat placid (bemused?) expression on his face.

While Ethan's initial months were tiring with diaper changes and midnight feeds, it felt magical to watch him grow and develop so quickly (and cutely). I can still recall his first heart-melting smile at three months of age. Blessed with a cheery nature, Ethan has always been generous with his Cheshire cat-like grin or uproarious laughter.

As Ethan grew to become a toddler, kid and tween, we inculcated in him a love for reading. To stimulate his fascination for stories, I fabricated a fantasy fable named "Fortune Cat" woven around the imaginary escapades of a Japanese maneki-neko (lucky cat) and his motley band of magical animal friends. Lying beside him on the bed at night, I'd relate the story until my creative juices ran dry or we fell asleep - whichever came sooner!

Exploring the great outdoors was also a shared interest in our family. Our favourite hangout is the lush and tranquil Singapore Botanic Gardens. This love for wildlife is also reflected in our preferred holiday choices - from the Canadian Rockies and Grand Canyon to marsupial-rich Tasmania. It is incredible how many hours we can trek up hills, down valleys or across fields, energised by Mother Nature in all her untamed splendour!

Naturally, fatherhood isn't always fun and games. There will be times where you need to discipline your kid to dispel bad habits while inculcating positive behaviours. While both my wife and I try to be consistent parents, I tend to be the stricter of the two. Fortunately, we hardly have to use the cane. Often a menacing look and stern warning is enough to achieve the desired effect!

One of the greatest challenges in being a father in Singapore is balancing between nagging your kid to study or allowing him to play. As academic and peer pressure mounts with the dreaded PSLE just 13 months away, we are often faced with the dilemma of cutting him some slack or drilling him to do more exercises to strengthen the subjects he is weak in. It certainly doesn't help when you hear stories from parents with "superkids" who ace their exams and achieve Grade 8 for their music without tuition!

Before I go, I wish to advice all digital dads (myself included) to prevent smartphones or tablets from becoming "surrogate fathers". If possible, delay your kids' introduction to technology as much as possible - you really don't need much education to master the iPad! Instead, spend time engaging in face-to-face conversations with your child, explore new places and spaces, or do fun physical stuff together.

Thought leader, book nerd, information junkie and Google+ geek, Walter blogs about business, marketing, social influence and PR at Cooler Insights. Previously the director of corporate communications at a major statutory board, Walter is currently reinventing himself as a content marketing specialist and social influence entrepreneur.

Being a parenting in Singapore sure comes with its fair share of "stress" in trying to find a balance between making sure our daughter is well-prepared to face our current local school system, and making sure she does not forgo the joy and freedom of childhood. We want her to have the academic skills to cope with school, and also believe that a child should have her childhood to play, to relax and discover the world they entered not long ago. Life skills are just as important as academic skills. It's a tough juggle and it's somewhat comforting to know that we're not the only ones who feel that way!



Masshole Mommy said...

It's too late for my kids who have iPods, Kindles and Nintendo DS's, but we definitely limit the time they use them.

mail4rosey said...

It's nice to hear the dad's perspective! I really enjoyed reading the story. It is clear too, that he is very fond of his boy, just as it should be. :)