Tag Archives: father’s love

5 Things I Wished I Learnt from the Baby Manual

One can only read that many books, talk to that many people or attend that many classes to prepare for that very special day, where your first child graduates from kicking around in the Mother’s womb out in to the whole new world.

jean and joy

Photo credit: Jason W.

Well perhaps I could do with reading more books and talking to more people, but alas when the time came, there was no looking back. I guess 9 months is a long time to anticipate something, a substantial amount of time for preparation and reflection.

I remember vividly the first cry I heard when my daughter was born and then reality really hit. I remember my wife coaxing me to carry her during the first few moments and in my head I was going, “I’m so going to crush her… her head may flop over wrongly… she looks slippery…argh! Where’s the manual?!”

But of course on the outside I had to put on a brave front, even more so right after witnessing what my wife went through in delivering my baby. So there I was, holding my daughter for the first time, looking at her, and for the first time I really understood what unconditional love meant. I had no idea I can love someone whom I just met so much! It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. Of course that awesome moment was suddenly rudely disrupted when my daughter belted out her version of “Let [Me] Go… let me go, don’t hold me up anymore…” right next to my ear.

Well, that pretty much summed up the start of this journey of parenthood for me. Great moments of love and responsibility and then a cruel dose of irritation and sacrifice, somewhat similar to the emotions of the contestant on those cooking shows where the judges praise you and then tell your best is not good enough and then tells you that fortunately there is someone else in the room who is worse.

I have now survived 9 months of fatherhood and looking back, if there was to be a manual for fathers, these would be the 5 things I personally wished I had read.

1. It is normal to be worried

I remember jumping out of bed just to check to see if my baby had flipped over and suffocated or if the swaddling cloth had covered her face during the first week she came home to us. On checking with other couples, this phenomenon is actually quite usual.

2. Poop is character building

It seems that babies have an innate ability to sense when it would be the perfect time to pee or poop. The times where we become collateral damage during diaper change has happened so often, it cannot be by chance. This character building levels up when your baby starts to flip, climb and crawl. The test is to remain calm and still talk nicely to your child.

3. Every child is different

I was quite confused upon hearing different advice and reading different articles with respect to being a first-time dad. I even tried to reason against reading all these books, especially when the author had a disclaimer in the beginning saying, “every baby is different”. But after all the OJT (on job training), I must say that having the different information helps in some way. At least sometimes it presented some form of hope when the baby acts up or behaves outside the “textbook”. We had options to try out at different situations and in the end choose which suits our baby best… or rather best suits us all.

4. Parenting is not a zero sum game

Growing up in a family with 2 other siblings, it was often a game of “I did the dishes last time round, who’s next?” I had foolishly tried to bring that game into the parenting sphere. The first time I mentioned that it was my wife’s turn to change her diaper because I last did it… and then I was kindly reminded of all the other things I did not do. Well now I just volunteer to change the diapers. It really is a job for 2, and some may say it takes a village but what I have learnt is this: raising a child is a team game and good teamwork will benefit everyone.

5. Appreciate your wife

This is a sobering reflection when I see how my wife suddenly becomes the baby whisperer. She can differentiate the cries of the baby while I sit there still wondering what went wrong. Before leaving the house, she would have made a list of what needs to be done. For example, while she’s putting on her make-up and I’m just sitting there wondering when she will be done, she tells me that the diaper bag needs a top up of diapers and rash cream. The baby needs lunch and possibly dinner so you need two sets of bibs and cereal. Her water was from yesterday and needs changing. Her toys are still dirty and needs a wash.

And there I was, clueless about what to prepare before leaving the house.

These 9 months have taught me how to think beyond myself – even when it’s something as simple as leaving the house for a meal. I have a newfound respect and appreciation for my wife and I would do well never to forget this.

So there, the 5 things I wished I had learnt if a manual came along with my daughter. I’m sure others would have many more to add and this list is not all there is to it, but I guess that is what makes this parenting journey such an adventure.

This guest post comes courtesy of Jason, a happily married father of one. His baby, Little J, was born in March, and life has never been the same since then.

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Loving Our Children: Communicating with daughters and teenagers

Andy is an IT professional by training and a dad of 4 daughters. Yes, you read that right – Andy and his wife have raised four strong, beautiful & gracious girls. He has much to share from personal experience, so let’s get things rolling!

Hi Andy! Could you introduce yourself and your family to our readers please?

I’m an ordinary guy who is greatly blessed with a loving wife, Cheryl. We have 4 wonderful daughters: Danielle (23), Davelle (22), Dominique (18) and Darienne (16).

As a family, we enjoy doing things together such as preparing meals, eating together, and going on family staycations and vacations. There’s nothing better than being with family!

Andy's 4 daughtersAs a dad, what’s it like bringing up 4 daughters?

To be honest, I actually find it easy. Girls are generally more sensitive, so I find that my daughters are aware of my needs and are expressive in caring for me and the family. They care for and help each other out as well, so that also makes it easier.

On the flipside, because I have 4 daughters, I end up driving them around a lot more – probably a lot more than I would if I have sons. I think it’s because I’m protective to some extent; when they go out late at night with friends I volunteer to drive them home.

This is where communication plays a major role. I share my heart with them, and let them know that the reason why I don’t want them to be home late is because I’m concerned about their safety.

Many dads have shared with us that communicating with their teenage daughters is a challenge. Do you have any advice based on your own experiences?

Communication is important at all stages, but it is extremely vital when they are teenagers. My suggestion: Take time to observe and communicate with your daughter. Let’s break it down further.

• Take time to observe:
Dads, this means that you really have to spend quality time with them (regardless of their love language). Be there for them and watch them grow up. Observe their moods and genuinely care for them.

• Communicating with your daughter:
If you observe that something is going wrong, show her that you are there for her by listening to her.

I cannot emphasise how important it is to let her share and talk…! I have learnt that it is not so much about teaching and sharing, but rather, letting them express themselves. In the course of conversation you can share your own experiences and how you dealt with things. As she reaches a conclusion as to what to do, that’s when you have to love and support her.

Is there any particular way that you convey your love and support for your daughter?

When they are in Secondary School, I make it a point to attend Date with Dad with them. I also make it a point to bring them out for a special one-on-one dinner on their 18th birthday. It’s almost like a rite of passage for each daughter!

My wife and I believe that it’s important to commemorate this milestone, so I’ll bring them out for a nice celebration, treating them like the grown-up lady that they have become.

That being said, I believe it’s an ongoing process. Cheryl and I learnt about the 5 Love Languages before the children were born, and we used that to identify how they receive love best so that we can effectively convey it to them.

Oh! Since you knew about it from the beginning, have your daughters’ love language evolved with time?

No, it hasn’t, even though their responses to how we give love may vary.

For example, if D likes quality time, but because of the mood or circumstances (e.g. busy and stressed out by schoolwork), how she reacts to me wanting to spend time with her may come back with a less than positive response.

As parents we tend to think that if they don’t respond, it means that they don’t like it. From my observation with my daughters, certain responses are situational. So the next time when you display that particular love language, they may react differently.

Sounds applicable to teenagers as a whole, not just daughters…

I believe wholeheartedly in doing the following three steps over and again in showing love:

Observing ⇒ Communicating ⇒ Supporting

When we observe their behaviour over a longer period of time, we then can understand what makes them feel most loved, and then adjust accordingly. And as always, communication is vital, no matter how old your child is.

Do you have any last words for parents of teens when it comes to communicating love?

I would encourage parents to love your child just as he/she is. It is a great way to convey that you love them. This is especially important if you have more than 1 child.

This applies to all parents, not just parents with teens. Recognize that every child is special and unique. Appreciate, enjoy and celebrate his/her differences!

Have any personal experiences to share about loving teenagers? Share them in the comments below!-

Editor’s note: Date with Dad is our signature event that will be happening in February. Registration is now open! Find out more about this exclusive father-daughter event here. You can also download the Dad’s Guide as a resource to help you strengthen your relationship with your daughter!

This post is part of Loving our Children series that we’re running this October in conjunction with Children’s Day. 

Note to my Papa!

In a week, I’ll be home! Home to see my family and my father again. Unfortunately though, it’s not in time for Fathers’ day. So, in these words, I hope to make up for that:

Dear Papa,
Thank you for all that you have been to me. You’ve picked me up when I was down, you’ve pushed me when I was lazy, you’ve comforted me when I was sad. You’ve made all of us laugh, and never minded when we teased you back. You’ve given me the space to grow on my own, but yet have always remained close by in case I needed you. You’ve taught both my sister and I the importance of family. You’ve been a mentor, a friend and most of all, a father.
But more than thanking you, I want to affirm you for the wonderful person that you are. You are one who inspires people around you. By demanding the best of others, you are helping them live up to their best potential. That is what you have done for me and it has made me the person I am today. I am proud to be your daughter and I hope to make you as proud of me too.

Amanda

This Fathers’ Day I mailed home a pair of paintings, pictures of oceans and sunsets. They symbolize that across distance and time, he is the best father to me.

Editor’s note:

Amanda’s father is a Facilitator and Speaker with Focus on the Family for Connect2 (marriage preparation workshop) and Parenting with Confidence (parenting program).