Monday, November 23, 2015

From Bad Parent to Good Parent (Updated)

I shamelessly still consider myself as a young father.

Being a father of two babies (my daughter is turning three this December and my son will turn two May of next year), sometimes I get carried away by my emotions especially when they start screaming together while I am doing some work at home. Sometimes, I lose control and start screaming at them to quiet them down. It breaks my heart right after doing that. I feel so ashamed of myself. Many times I thought I would not make a good father to them anymore. I am a bad parent.

My wife is very supportive to me. She is very open to tell me that she dislikes that shameful attitude of mine towards my children. And still she will assure me that I could still be the best Papa in the world to my children. Many times she comes to me quietly to talk about it but I am too embarrassed that I usually defend myself by answering her with many lame excuses.

But then one day. I have told to my wife that I needed help. We agreed to a couple of things. I am happy that I am starting to be more patient around my children. I also created a list of the things I learned from my experiences.

1. Do not worry too much about being the best father to your children. You have to enjoy yourself. As older dads and moms always say, “It all goes by too quickly so enjoy every moment of it.”

2. Play games or role-play with your children. You can try hand games, piggyback rides, hide-and-seek, etc. Their high-pitched laughter is priceless. Physical activities with them are a good exercise, too.

3. Tell them how much you love them. For your children, ‘actions speak louder than words’ idea does not apply. You have to do it and say it all the time. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions to them.

4. Snuggle with them as much as you can. You can do it while watching TV, reading books, etc. You can hold their hands and hug them a lot.

5. Give them the sense of being responsible by letting them do small tasks and make their own choices.

6. Always follow through on your promises to them. Children have a very good memory. In the event you honestly forgot a promise, do not be afraid to say sorry to them. Explain your side but never lie to them.

7. Always commend them for each tiny accomplishment they make. With Dani and Markus, we use thumps-up sign to praise their good actions.

8. Sometimes children throw you a series of why-and-how questions that seem to have no end. Remember that they are very curious about many things as they grow. They tend to ask about everything. For this, you have to be very patient. As much as possible, make time to answer their questions.

9. Remember that kids copy almost everything that we do, so watch carefully what you say to or around them.

10. When they make mistakes, make sure that they understand the reason and the result of their actions. Even if you know the whole story already, always ask them first of their side of the story. Listen to them with all your attention. Never accuse them of the wrong thing that they have done, even if they really did it. Make them understand that you do not hate them at all but the bad thing that they have done. You can tell them that you still love them and that nothing will change your love for them at all. If possible, you can treat them with ice cream or you can go out for a quick visit in the park to celebrate the lessons they have learned out of their mistakes.

11. If you feel so angered by their actions, try to breathe and count to 10 before you react to their actions. By this, you can buy time to let your emotions subside a bit before you say any words. If this seems to be not going to work, let your wife to take over.

12. Read a lot to them and with them. Try to animate your voice and make funny faces as you read to them. Let them use their imagination. If possible, you can let them share their thoughts even if it’s changing the original flow of the story.

13. Once in a while, ask for feedback from your children. Ask them which are the things they love about you and what are the things they wish you would not do, etc. This will encourage them to be honest to you when it comes to their emotions.

14. Love your wife more and more. Your children will feel the love you have for your wife. This will make them happier from the inside.

15. Join small groups for dads in your church. This will give you more opportunities to share your experiences and the lessons you have learned as a father. At the same time, you will also learn new things from the other fathers.

The following poem which was sent to me via text message by an old friend long time ago somehow helped me deal with it.

Let Go And Let God

Today I let go and I let God
Take charge of this life of mine
Now in the corners of my soul
...His light is beginning to shine
All of the cares and worries that;

I have carried around for so long
He has lifted them from my shoulders
And filled my heart with love
Problems that were overwhelming
Suddenly seem very small
And come what may starting today
I knew I can handle them all.

If you are troubled,
Let go and let God
Take charge of your life for you
And however dark life shadows seem
His light will come shining through.