Tag Archives: Love

How my Dad Changed my Perspective on Love and Marriage Without Knowing It

I always wondered how Dad put up with Mum’s perpetual lateness (and why he married her when he hates being late) … and when I found out by chance, it changed my life.

It was a Saturday afternoon; I was running late to meet a friend (as usual) so Dad offered to drop me off. Ever thankful, I dashed into the car while he calmly started the car and got onto the road.

As he lamented and questioned why all his kids inherited Mum’s trait of being late and zilch of his love for punctuality, it made me pause.

“Dad,” I asked slowly, “You get mad whenever mum is late. So what made you choose to marry her despite knowing that she will always be late when you absolutely abhor lateness?”

Photo Credit: Deannster via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Deannster via Compfight cc

He stared ahead at the road, and then answered quietly, “Because I love your mother more than I love being punctual.”

That one quiet sentence changed my life; it reframed my perspective of love and marriage, and I never looked at love and marriage (or at them) the same way ever again.

Out of curiosity, I asked Mum why she married Dad.

“Because he loves me for who I am. You can see how much your Dad loves me, right? I knew he loved me and would be a good father to the children. Sweetheart, you need to marry a man who loves you as you are, a man who will put you (and the children) first, giving his all to take care of you.”

Speechless. I couldn’t say more.

Tears welling up in my eyes, I squeaked out some excuse about needing the toilet and ran there to have a good cry.

My parents have always told me to look out for a good man, and so on … but nothing could have spoken to me more than their life example. The way Dad loves Mum (and all of us, to be honest) is a real inspiration.

Truth be told, Dad telling me why he married Mum is one of the most precious memories that I have of my time with him. And when my kids ask how I decided to marry their father, I’ll tell them this:

“When your Grandpa told me why he loved Grandma, and how I should choose my future husband… that’s how I decided.”

And then I’ll share with them this same story in the hopes that they will learn the greatest lesson of all: that loving someone is about loving them beyond their flaws and weaknesses.

This guest post comes courtesy of Xin W., a happily married post-graduate student.

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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.

Men and Destinations

couple driving on the road

Photo Credit: penelopejonze via Compfight cc

I’ve found that on road trips and holidays, some men can be a tad too particular about getting from Pt A to Pt B on time.

If we drive at 110km/h we can reach San Francisco in 6.5 hours.

“Honey, look, let’s stop for pastries at Solvang. The town looks pretty.”
“We can’t. It will throw our timing off and we will get caught in the traffic.”
“Honey, look, let’s stop by the beach coz it has a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.”
“Please, we don’t have time coz we’ll be late.”
“Late for?”
“Late in getting there in 6.5 hours.”

Years ago, there was a cruise ad in Australia targeted at widows that read “Taking you to places your late husband wouldn’t stop at.

Sometimes we can be so focused on getting to our destination that we fail to enjoy life’s beauty along the way.

I’m learning to do more of that. Now when I’m late in picking my wife, I tell her I had to stop to enjoy the moment.

Gary is the resident “blogger of few words” whose brevity and takes on love, life and daily interactions with his son are rather popular with readers. He loves his wife and son dearly, and enjoys jamming together with them as a family band.

My Dear, Loving Parents…

As I embark on the 25th year of my life, I look back at how your love for me, expressed in words and deeds, has shaped the person I’ve become.

It has been a couple of hours since I wrote that first sentence, and I have only got this far because so many memories flood into my mind and I do not even know where to begin. To be honest though, it is only on hindsight that I realise the depth of love both of you have showered on me from a young age.

When I was much younger and gullible enough to believe that I knew what was best for myself, I did not always appreciate the things that you did. I recalled being angry and frustrated whenever you punished me, limited the amount of time I spent on the computer, and forced me to study. I know I was far from an easy child to handle, trying to work around the rules all the time. While it would have been easier to leave me to my own devices and let me deal with the consequences, your love meant investing the time, energy and emotion to persevere and effect change in my life. Thank you for this sacrificial love which required the giving of yourself in order to bring out the best in me.

Thank you also for loving me and my siblings equally, for this is the surest indication that your love is unconditional. There were times when I did think that perhaps you did love my other siblings more than me, but this was solely down to my feelings that my siblings were better than I. However, nothing in your words or actions ever portrayed favouritism of any sort, and I soon dispelled the idea. Being such a strong introvert, there are many times when I just feel like not engaging in conversations. The fact that I am loved for who I am, and not what I do, gives me the freedom to truly be myself without having to worry about being thought of as less at home.

I know that the foundation of your unconditional, sacrificial love is God’s love. However, I believe that it is also enabled by your love for each other. It is the collective love from the both of you which has really made me feel so loved over the years. There is a certain complementariness about your love that enhances and adds value to the individual love. The few times that the two of you have had differences, I could feel the changes in your relation with me. This made it evident to me that your love for each other is a source of strength out of which you are able to love me to the extent that you do.

You used to joke that I put up my hand when God asked who wants to join this family. If it were true though, it would be my best decision to date. I cannot even begin to imagine life without the love that you have showered upon me. I hope my future wife and I will be just like you; whoever puts up their hands in heaven to join my family will be able to experience the full extent of love that I have received from you.

With much love.

Your son,
Abraham

Editor’s note: In conjunction with our Loving our Children series, we thought it’d be great to hear from young adults. Abraham is the first, with more to come. If you are inspired to love your children, you can discover effective ways to love them on our website and download a free activity pack!

Abraham is an undergraduate who dreamed of playing professional football when he was 5 (and actually still does). While his love for football occupies a large part of his heart, the remaining portion is shared between his passion for photographing the wonders of God’s creation and love for his family.

Loving our Children: Dealing with Differences

Communicating love to our children can be challenging – and even more so in the face of differences and difficulties. Noelle kindly agreed to share her parenting journey and some practical advice.

Hi Noelle! Could you introduce yourself and your family please?

The Ow Family (2012)I have 3 sons aged 8, 10 and 12. After delivering my second, with my husband’s blessings, I decided to quit my job and be a stay home mother. I want to be there during my children’s formative years to impart the right values into their lives.

My second son has dyslexia, and this affects him academically and socially. Being home allows me to support him better during some of these challenging moments. There are good days and not-so-good days staying home with 3 boys. However, it has been rewarding watching my children’s “firsts” first-hand, and being able to be there for them during both the good and bad times.

I hope you don’t mind me asking – since J2 has dyslexia, does the way you communicate love to him differ from the other two boys?

J1’s primary love language is Quality Time. J2 has a mix of two: Words of Affirmation, and Quality Time, while J3’s primary love language is Physical Touch. That itself shows that the way we communicate love to him is different. For example, we will thank him for setting up the table for meals, and this makes him happy.

Dyslexia is a learning disability, which means that J2 doesn’t do well compared to his peers in school. The low scores invite teasing and name-calling from his classmates sometimes, and it affects his self-esteem.

At times, even though he may know the answers to questions he will be uncertain and need reassurance from us that he is on the right track. We have to constantly encourage him not to give up and believe in himself.

When it comes to tests and exams, even though he may not have passed the papers, as long as he did better than the previous round we will affirm him for his effort and progress rather than focusing on why he didn’t pass.

It looks like being intentional in showing your love plays a key role…

Yes! With 3 sons, half my time spent with them involves mediating their squabbles when they are playing with each other. The remaining half of the time is supervising their school work … Not exactly the most easy situation to express love per se.

When it comes to loving my 3 boys, I have to intentionally pull myself out of the ‘supervisory’ role and express my love for them. I also make it a point to have some time for reflection towards the end of each day; if I remember that I have not expressed love to them, I will do so during the time of prayer we have together at night.

Speaking to my children in their preferred language does not come easily or instinctively. Honestly, even though J3 and I share the same primary love language (Physical Touch), there were moments when I was supervising or disciplining him and found it challenging to express his love language.

In the beginning it took a lot more effort and intentionality, but with time, it gets better. I also realised that when I put in more effort to express my love for my sons, they are more open in relating to me in the many areas of their lives.

So how do the boys relate to you?

It helps that my sons talk to me about almost anything, every day.

J1 will sometimes come up to me personally and talk about school, such as the things he found funny. He also enjoys art like I do, so we have a common topic that we can always fall back on. My time talking with him is enjoyable to the point that I sometimes ask him which pair of shoes goes well with an outfit – which is something that you would expect mother-daughter pairs and not mother-son pairs to do!

J2 attends dyslexia classes twice a week. During the times when I send him to and from classes, we have our “alone time” with each other. We talk about school and things he is curious about. I like how he always remember (and does not mind) saying, ‘I love you’, in person and over the phone. It reminds me to affirm him of my love too.

J3 is the youngest and also the smallest in built. It is natural that we protect him instinctively by carrying and holding his hands. Even his brothers enjoy piggy-backing him around in the name of play. He also often holds my arm and slips it around his shoulder. It is his way of telling me he needs love, his way.

With three boys, I have to intentionally make time for one-on-one moments with them. It is something I always tell myself not to neglect. They grow up so fast…

Time passes fast indeed. Any suggestions on effectively communicating love to our kids?

As parents, we have to know both our personal love language and our children’s. Having this awareness is the first step to remind ourselves to speak each other’s preferred love language. It might be awkward the first few times as it could be unnatural for most of us, but with practice, it becomes a little easier.

Also, it helps if we show our love for our spouse openly. My husband and I will hug and kiss in front of our sons. Sometimes they will join in the hug, or we will pull them into our embrace. When such little actions become daily affairs, it becomes easier for us to convey our love to one another.

For the record, it didn’t start that way for me. I was raised in a traditional Asian family where my parents didn’t display love for one another and to us children openly. Thus it was awkward when I first started displaying affection for my husband in front of our sons, but it got more enjoyable as time went by.

Before we end, do you have any advice for parents of kids with dyslexia (or any other condition) on loving their child?

I believe that recognizing and acknowledging that our child has a learning disability is the first step to discovering how to love them. In Singapore we parents seem to celebrate our children’s achievements more than who they are as person.

At the end of the day, it is not just about the academic results, but about their progress and their character. We learn to celebrate our children’s little successes in all their milestones – and this has to go beyond their studies.

I’d sum it up like this: it’s about moving forward together with them, one step at a time.

Do you have any stories to share on showing love to sons? Share with us by leaving a comment below!

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. 

Confiding in Parents – What Drives It? [Part 1]

I recall watching this Cosby Show episode; Bill and his wife Claire wondered if their children were willing to share their problem. They sit down with their children to discuss the issue, and their son admits that if he were encountering a situation that made him scared, he would go to a friend first. It perplexed Bill as to why his son would go to a friend ahead of him when in trouble.

It might just be a show, but considering the number of times my parents have assured me that I can talk to them about anything, I am pretty sure that many parents are concerned about how open their children are to them and wonder how they can get their children to confide in them especially when in trouble.

I am under 25 years old and have no children, and hence no experience in attempting to get children to confide in me. However, what I do have is the memory of what my own parents did, as well as some of the things that I, as a child, believe that parents could do to encourage their children to confide in them.

Creating a safe environment

It might go without saying, but a safe environment does not come without building. For as long as I can remember, home has always been the place I’ve felt safest at. I may not always have known why, but reflecting now, I think it boiled down to a few vital things.

Invest the time

A big contributor to feelings of safety is familiarity. Personally, I will always be grateful for my mother’s decision to stop working which allowed her to spend plenty of time with me. It might be more difficult for working parents to make the time, but it is not impossible. My father has a ‘heavy’ job, but has always been intentional about making time to spend with me. Every birthday, we have a one-on-one dinner, and every school holidays we used to take a family holiday together, where he left all work at home, making sure that the time spent was quality time.

One practical thing that can be done is to set aside a time for children to share with parents. I know of one family that makes sure that once a week the family gathers to share one thing that they tried but failed at over the preceding week. It is important for parents to take the lead in such activities as children will feel safer sharing if they see their parents doing the same. Such practices should be built into routines which will breed familiarity and hence a safe environment, paving the way for children to share other things on their own accord.

Trust can be earned, love must be a constant

I still remember my dad telling me after I disobeyed him once that I must earn back his trust. At the same time, and in many other situations, he affirmed his love for me. My parents’ consistent reminders of their love for me decoupled their love for me from my own actions. This gave me the confidence to share problems with my parents with the knowledge that though I may lose trust, I will never lose their love. Unfortunately, many times children perceive that the love they receive is tied to their actions or achievements. This link is formed not only by parents not reminding them of their love when the child has done something wrong, but also by parents only expressing their love for their child exclusively when they so something good. While this might promote good behaviour, it will also cause the child to hide from their parents the things that would displease them.

Editor’s note: Keep a lookout for Part 2 where he shares the process of listening and the potential pitfalls from his perspective as a son! If you want to know when it has been released, join us on Facebook or follow our blog. See you then 🙂

Abraham is an undergraduate who dreamed of playing professional football when he was 5 (and actually still does). While his love for football occupies a large part of his heart, the remaining portion is shared between his passion for photographing the wonders of God’s creation and love for his family.