Sunday, April 17, 2011

History Does Matter

Attempting to be the best Dad I can, I always have to look back and try to remember how my father lived his life. How he treated my mother, how he took care of his children, and his actions in general.

Unfortunately for me, I have too little. One event that has always been popping up (since there are too little memory) is when I was praying with Dad when I was 14 or 15.

I have ample religious knowledge, from schools and none from my father. When I asked my Mom one day about how to perform a cleansing bath, she responded "you're too young for that, are you that horny and wants to get married?".

Back to the story, I was performing my prayers well but my father ended up one of his main readings with an unusual amen with an "ah...." sound, something like when you're really thirsty and got a drink of Coke. He was my father and even though he was rarely around, I thought this is correct so I followed his way.

After we finished our prayer he turned to me with an angry face and said, "Are you teasing me?". I was of course, clueless but I was sad. I didn't dare to talk back.

And there are moments when he gets angry when I couldn't recite certain prayers properly. His words were usually, "even your little brother can recite this properly". Well excuse me, the little brother lived with him (different mother due to polygami) and went to a religious school. His words hurt me a lot.

(Prayers for the little one, he's now gone many years back because of an motorcycle accident)

My points are:

  1. Even if the father is rarely around a teenager will still look up to him as a father, and try to please him as much as he can
  2. If you've never taught anything to your child, you don't have the rights to be angry at him or her. You have neglected your responsibility.
  3. After too much trying and being let down, a human will give up and now I don't look up or love him anymore. I still know he's my father but now, he's considered as a "biological father"
My father is now senile, and he's very old. Still, I don't have any intention to express any kind of love to him let alone take care of him. If he dies, I will say my prayers as a son who never gets the love and attention he deserves from his father.


Heart Touching Moments

I was at a local religious center the other day, and I saw a father with a son about 9-10 years old. When reaching a wide drain the father held his son up and helped him cross. This simple moment touched my heart as my father never did that for me.

I've always done that for my son, now aged 28 months. Thinking of what I see everyday, I realized now why our neighbor's children always looked at me with sad eyes when I return home from work, pick up my son and take him to the playground (or into the car for a cruise). The children are aged 4-5 years old and the father once home will either hibernate into the bedroom or jump into his Mitsubishi Evo with noisy muffler and drive away only to return at 3AM. They are highly dependent on the maid who is also acting as a nanny.

I am not saying that I am a great father, but I am now 32 years old and I can still feel the emptiness of my father being never available for me, let alone pick me up in his arms and bring me somewhere to spend time with. It's a void that will never be filled. The moment is once in a lifetime and it has passed. If he wants to do that to me right now, he'll break his arms trying to pick up a 95kg man.

My point is, we can still remember our past time as kids even after we grow up and moments are only once for a child so we should cherish it when we have the opportunity.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Making a Child Sleep at The Appropriate Time

We have been having a problem getting our son to get to sleep. The earliest time possible for him to fall asleep is at 12.30 a.m. and the latest is at 7.00 a.m.

We have tried all possible methods such as not giving him his late noon / early evening naps, no TV in the evening, etc. but to no avail.

Would you like to share your method?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tricks For The Car Seat

I have seen kids who can sit quietly on the car seat without any problems, and also difficult kids who does not like to be restrained. Unfortunately, my 1.5 year old son is the latter. For a couple of months, when I tried to strap him onto the car seat he would wail out loud non-stop until I had to give up. I simply wasn't able to drive with a wailing child inside the car. The car seat was installed at the back seat of the car.

Since the time he can walk until about a month ago, we always ask him to sit on the car seat but it was impossible. The longest duration he can stay on the seat was for about 30 minutes unless he was sleeping. Then he would jump around, annoying his Mama and I have always been worried because it's dangerous.

It wasn't once or twice that he fell onto the car floor, or hit his head to the window or other plastic parts in the car. Plus we are worried if we hit something or get hit, he would fall and be badly injured.

As he grow older and is now less dependent on breast milk, I can now occasionally take him out on my own so that my wife can take some "me-time" or when she has work to do. As a work at home Mama this time is very important to have.

Since this is the case, I had to move the car seat to the front passenger seat. Although the safest place for a child is at the back seat, I have no choice. I configured the front passenger seat so that it reclines to the back as much as possible, to minimize issues with the air bag (knock-on-wood).

Since my compact MPV does not come with a DVD player as a standard configuration, I tried to look for DVD players and flat panel. Big brands does not seem to have any model that are installable at the sun visor, so I had to improvise. I bought a Philips portable DVD player that comes with a mounting pouch meant to be used for the headrest. It's a misuse to strap it onto the sun visor but it works.

Problem is, my son is just like his parents - he gets bored easily. When he gets bored he would want to move around, stand up, dance, and jump even while watching DVDs.

So we tried to give him something to munch on. At first we gave him junk food like corn snacks (e.g. Twisties, Chickadees) but we are concerned about his tiny kidney.

Right now we try to vary the food we give him in the car. We look for his favorites. So far he loves to munch on everything so it's hard to identify his favorites. Well, good thing that he also likes dry food otherwise it would be very hard to feed him something like rice inside the car.

It takes time to train, but he's becoming better. In the early stages we had to give him food so that he becomes occupied even before strapping him onto the car seat. So far it worked. He just need to feel safe, and be assured that it's not so bad to sit quietly on a car seat.

One thing about this method is that a hand-held or small vacuum cleaner is necessary to suck those little bits of snacks from the tight corners inside the car. It's going to be a mess.

Last night I took him out on my own to fill up gas for the car. The journey from home was fantastically stress-free even without food. I was amazed when he agreed to be strapped, even without bribe and without the DVD player. At the gas station I bought some yellow raisins (Ligo) and on the way back he was happily munching them.

(I was actually cheating since I already know he likes the raisins. It's my wife's favorite snack too.)

It was a good night, and I was (and still) so proud of him for being such a good boy.

I am still thinking of healthy snacks to introduce to him, especially since I am planning for a vacation this year and it's going to be a longer journey in the car then what he is used to.

I liked the idea of something like Heinz's Rice snack but the flavoring is too light.

Do you have any idea? What kind of snack do you give to your children in the car? Or do you have a better suggestion on keeping children quietly strapped on the car seat?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Do You Want Your Kid To Grow Just Like You?

That's what many parents want - to have their kids follow their footsteps and become like them. I personally don't, so I work hard to be a great father.

I grew up without a father, and it made me lonely, angry, and stressful. I am angry at the world all the time. I am still trying to change that but it is definitely not easy.

If you read the previous post, it wasn't a real post: Cat's In The Cradle. It is a song containing a meaningful story of how a child turned just like his parent. I've liked this song even before I had my own child, because it's about life and I am very sure it's happening at this very moment.

Some peers complained that their used-to-work parents are now asking to follow them wherever they go because they are bored. The same parents used to leave the children behind to go places even for entertainment or weekend outings.

Think about it this way, you'll get old one day and your children will be the one taking care of you. The difference is simple - it is not their responsibility to take care of you. They have their own life, and you expect them to take care of you? How selfish is that thought?

If right now you send your children to nurseries, daycare, and any other type of places remember that they can one day send you to similar places, but for old people.

If right now you leave your children during weekends and outings, remember that they can do the same. They can have maids too you know.

The same thing is discussed in several books I've read. Children who are connected and bonded to the parents can easily share thoughts and experiences with the parents. It leads to more understanding, more discussions, and more matured teenagers. Maturity will benefit to decrease social problems. Most teenagers are embarrassed or shy to talk to their parents, and ended up taking chances. If they take the correct choice, it's fine but what if they take the wrong one?

Of course, there are instances where it's inevitable to work but there is no excuse of not bonding with your children. If you don't want to, why make them in the first place? Popular reasons from Dads:
  1. So that the kids can take care of me when I get old
  2. To show people how manly I am.
  3. My sperm count is normal!
  4. Pressure from elders
  5. Pressure from family
  6. I am afraid that one day when I am old, I will regret not having a child
  7. My wife wanted a kid so that I couldn't make "child" a reason if I want to get a second wife
The most popular reason to have children is to have someone to look after you when you get old. And today, you don't spend quality time with them. Remember, I am specifically looking at Dads now. But with that most popular reason and what Dads currently do, I rest my case.

P/S: Mom and Dads, please find time to spend with your children and you shall not regret it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cat's In The Cradle

by Sandy & Harry Chapin

My child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad.
You know I'm gonna be like you."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let's play.
Can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today,
I got a lot to do." He said, "That's ok."
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmmed,
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I'm gonna be like him."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man I just had to say,
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile,
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

I've long since retired and my son's moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu,
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad.
It's been sure nice talking to you."
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me,
He'd grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, dad.
You know we'll have a good time then."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Goes Around, Comes Around

I was driving one day when I heard a local community message on the radio. It went something like this:
"There is an increasing statistics of people sending off their parents to old folk's homes these days, and the number is worrying. We should take care of our parents the same way they did for us. Is this an example we want to portray to our children?"
Before continuing, I would like to clarify that in my country Malaysia such homes are funded by welfare programs and donations. People usually send old folks to such homes because they are avoiding the responsibility. And when people get sent to such homes, they are usually "unwanted". In these homes old people live with basic amenities, and usually with insufficient medical facilities. Simply put, it's a sad place to live in.

(I am fully aware of old folk's homes in other countries (i.e. USA) where such homes are places where old people get good medical care, and people pay a lot for the services.)

One would ask what kind of children would send off their parents to a welfare home like that? Judging the children, it is a cruel action. But does anyone ever asked why?

If we generally view the current culture, parents send off their children to nurseries and daycare as soon as they turn 60 days old. 60 days is the number of days allotted for maternity leave for a working woman. Babies are being taken care of by strangers, and they grow up in such business units daily from as early as 6.00 a.m. until as late as 8.00 p.m.

For those who have maids at home, they usually save lots of money by asking the maid to take care of as many of 4 kids at the same time. I've heard stories that even at night if a children needs to go to the washroom the parent would wake up the maid.

(Maids are paid housekeepers living together with the family, usually Indonesian women.)

I am 100% against the idea of letting maids take care of children. They are untrained to educate children, but they are trained to do house chores. A nanny is better. Those are two different roles parents seems to be confused with. But nannies are expensive. Yes, they are.

On weekends, family time - parents drove off to watch a movie or shopping without the kids, after lying to the kids in the face, "we're going to work".

Are these valid reasons for the children to some day send off their parents to "nurseries" and "daycare" when they have to go to work?

Note to daddies: kids require at least 2 hours of your quality time daily as they grow up.

I am not saying that it's not wrong to abandon parents, but I am seeing some strong causes as to why it happens. I do think, that it's not right to immediately blame the children without knowing what have really happened in their lives.

After all, we're all human.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Purpose: Sharing Sharing Sharing


My main purpose of creating this site is to make it a platform for daddies all around the world to share their experiences in the world of parenthood. It is a daunting task, in which many have failed and in the end give up. I don't think it has to end that way, especially since there are so many good dads in this world. Good dads can help other dads become as good as them and share their wisdom in upbringing their kids the way they know best.

From my observation, the cycle continues from generation to generation where children takes over and become exactly like their parent. Although father-daughter relationships is also as important as father-son relationships, the effect can be immediately seen on sons probably because of the gender similarity.

I am a father of a 14 month old son (at the time of writing), and I am still learning on how to be a good father. Having a father who is always absent proves that it is difficult to be a father without a good role model. I am full of anger and frustration since I was young.

However, I feel lucky that instead of embracing my father's way of upbringing his kids, I strive and struggle to be the best father I can be. I read parenting books, spend quality time together with my son and work hard. But I do need other help especially from other fathers. Good and bad examples alike, both are very valuable!

I lead a very hectic life, working from 8AM-7PM and then doing an education business during nighttime, but I try my best.

If you think that parenting and being a good dad is important, you are very welcome here but if you think that parenting should be handled only by mothers, maybe this is not the place for you. But you are welcome to stay and join us! No, you don't have to be a blogger; the name of this site is a little misleading. This is intended to be a place where dads unite.

If you are interested in contributing stories and articles, you are welcome to do so.