Sunday, October 5, 2014

Celebrate Fatherhood: Being Isabel's Father | Guestpost by Jith, Daddy Advisor

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.

My journey into fatherhood began in June 2013 with the arrival of my daughter Isabel, a bundle of joy and nearly non-stop energy. Seeing her open her eyes to look at me for the first time as she lay swaddled in the labour room was a moment I will never forget as long as I live. With her arrival into my world, I realised I could never be truly prepared for what the role of a father entailed. Having a father who worked abroad for most of my childhood, I realised very early on what a great sacrifice my own father had made to provide for our family while missing out on all the little miracles of watching us grow up. Given how blessed we are now as a result of all his sacrifices, I promised myself that I will be there to witness my own daughter’s little miracles as she grows up.

Isa, as we like to call her affectionately, is now 15 months old and growing up (too quickly to be honest!) into a lovely daughter who loves animals, the great outdoors and spending time with us playing, reading and doing silly things around our home. When I saw her copy the things we do, I realised that with parenthood comes great responsibilities - and as a father, the responsibility to nurture this little girl to be a kind, loving and gentle person while helping her grow up into a wonderful human being who will make a meaningful difference in the lives of those around her. Despite the occasional parenting boo-boos, I can’t be more happier with this new role in my life.

In a society that has many expectations and opinions of what a father should be and must do, I find it is easier to create my own path and fulfill the expectations that I set for myself rather than compare myself to many others. And in the moments when I stumble or miss out on some of those responsibilities, I’m glad I have my wife to point out my shortcomings (any wonder why they are called the “better halves”?) and who helps me become a better father. During the rare days when I feel completely lost or left out of the parenting equation, it helps to know I have my parents and friends whom I can reach out to tap into their experience of parenting and bring up kids. Although parenting styles have evolved, the fundamentals of parenting still remain the same and I feel it is important we pass on good values to our children as parents. It also helps that I look towards my own father as my role model. Despite his absence in my early years, his commitment to his family, his unconditional love for us and tenacity to persevere are some of his qualities that I hold close to my heart now that I am a father too.

I also firmly believe it is important to celebrate and feature fathers as positive role-models more prominently in our society and our media. Dad’s For Life is one such outreach programme that has been quite diligent in promoting positive father figures. Even though we don’t give out the “Best Dad of the Year” award to fathers - I’m sure the love of our children and the joy of watching them grow up is the best award any father can receive. I know for sure that seeing the smile on Isa’s face and the big sloppy kisses I get when I return from work is the best sign of appreciation I get as a father.

My only advice to new fathers (if I can consider myself worthy), is to enjoy the experiences that fatherhood offers and to let our children grow and develop in their own time. Our fast paced society demands much from us - our time, our health and ultimately our relationships - so take it easy, put away the smartphones (note to self!), cuddle with your children, read a book, cook up a storm and dance away the worries the day throws at you.

Carpe Diem, fathers!

Jith has a curious malady of sticking his finger in too many pies. Other than advising start-ups on branding and communications, scuba-diving in search of sunken marine treasures, cooking up a storm in the kitchen most weekends and generally taking way too many pictures of Isabel to blackmail her someday, he’s a pretty decent chap married to Rachana - who puts up with all his nonsense, very kindly!

It does get pretty distracting when you compare yourself to other parents and like Jith, I've come to realise that parenthood is not a battle against other parents to see who has the "best" kid or who has the "best" parenting style.. rather, it is a journey with our own kids. It may be slower than some, it may be harder than some, but at least it is rich with our own meaningful learning and experiences!



Masshole Mommy said...

I agree, it IS important to feature dads as role models. Sometimes dads get such a bad rap and that stinks because most of the time we only hear the negative - not about the awesome stand up dads.

An Apel a Day said...

He certainly has the right parenting attitude. Parenting isn't always easy. It's important for Dad's to be a part of their children's lives.