What we wish we had known about fatherhood

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Fitri Majid, his wife Johanna and their daughters Dahlia, Lili and Jasmin.

FINDING out that you are about to become a father can be exciting and daunting. Although there are books, videos and friends and family to offer advice, nothing can prepare you for the day when you hold your baby in your arms.

Thots n Tots speaks to some dads about their experiences and what they wish somebody had told them about fatherhood.

Remember to have fun

Journalist Fitri Majid, 36, says watching his three daughters grow and loving them is the best part about being a dad.

“I wish someone had told me to have fun with the journey! People give advice like how to do this and that … but they forget the most important part, which is for men to become fathers on their own terms.

“My advice to new dads is to of course enjoy the ride. Don’t sweat it. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: Being super really helps!”

Fitri says it is very important for him to be hands-on as the family doesn’t have a helper and his parents and in-laws don’t live with them.

“I think being hands-on gives you that personal touch – the father-daughter or father-son bonding, if you will. It deepens the interaction.

“It is important for dads to be good role models. Children will always see their dads as the superhero, the Mr Do-it-all. So give them a good example to follow,” says Fitri.

He believes that experience is the best teacher. He has learnt a lot from raising his first daughter, now seven, and puts that knowledge to good use when bringing up his three-year-old and one-year-old.

“I learnt a lot from raising my first girl and now I can handle all three at home by myself on my off days,” says Fitri.

Quiet time

Author Don Bosco, 44, has two sons aged 12 and nine. He has a unique way of looking at fatherhood.

“Kids are basically newbie adults. They’re stumbling around this world trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. On top of that, their world keeps changing all the time. So it’s important for them to have a good tour guide to help avoid the lousy spots and also steer them towards the good things in life. That’s the kind of hands-on involvement that dads should have. Help these newbies attain pro status without too much damage.

“Take responsibility for yourself. Kids will naturally observe and learn from that. I came across this quote once, something like, ‘A true master isn’t the master of anyone else, a true master is a master of himself, so that others can see this and learn to follow.’ It definitely applies to fatherhood,” says Bosco.

Don Bosco and his sons. He values the friendship and inspiration he gets from his sons.
Don Bosco and his sons. He values the friendship and inspiration he gets from his sons.

When he is stumped and not sure what to do, he gathers everyone in a comfortable room at home, turns on the air-cond and puts on a relaxing audio track, like gentle running water or relaxing music for meditation.

“We close our eyes and sit or lie down and be still for a while. The idea is to just be okay with whatever you’re feeling or facing, and give your inner wisdom some time to find a response. It always works. Sometimes we fall asleep … that’s not a bad thing!” he adds.

Bosco wishes he had known that treating your child to a weekend of peace and quiet is more important than a weekend of fun and excitement. The children already have so much excitement during the week and Bosco believes that the weekend is the best time to tone down on that.

His advice to new dads? “Take up meditation, or anything that helps you develop a relaxed and peaceful temperament. It’s a serious handicap when children have to depend on someone who’s jittery, short-tempered, easily annoyed or resentful. They can’t develop a natural sense of well-being, and they’ll often get sick easily.”

For Bosco, the friendship and inspiration he gets from his sons is the best thing about being a dad. “Also, whenever they get cool presents, like books or toys or yummy stuff, especially chocolate, they always remember to share with me. Yay!”

Do not spoil them

Seasoned dad Derek Andrew Goh, 58, says the best thing about being a dad is to see your kid do better than you and become a person of value and significance.

He believes it is very important for dads to be hands-on, especially during the children’s formative years.

Derek Andrew Goh and his son Brandon a year ago.
Derek Andrew Goh and his son Brandon a year ago.

“One must spend quality time bonding with their kid and not spend on expensive gifts. A dad should be a role model and demonstrate leadership in the family and also to love their mum to let the children see and learn,” says Goh, who has one son, aged 22.

His advice to new dads is to not spoil their child.

Lots of clothes

Marketing executive Chong Jinn Xiung, 31, is a new dad. His son is just three months old.

He advises those expecting their first child to be prepared for the ride of their life, at least during the first three months.

“It is important to be hands-on, in my opinion. To me, that means being involved and spending time with my child, thus maximising bonding time with him. Responsibility-wise, I think dads can help out wherever they can, be it changing diapers, giving their child a bath, sending the child to day care when you have to go to work.

“When I’m stumped on things I normally would ask my parents and friends who have kids what they would do. It helps sometimes to know what others do or would do, but ultimately it comes down to you and what you think is best for your child,” says Chong.

He believes the greatest thing about being a dad is to be on a journey with your child and watch him grow and learn things from you.

Although, he wishes someone had told him to always keep a pair of clothes handy. “My child goes through a lot of clothes in a day!”