The Hands-On Dad: Tough Love?

Monday, 23 April 2012

It was with a mixture of sadness, bewilderment and a measure of understanding that I read this blog post.

Perhaps I'm a big softie, but I really don't know how to be 'hard' on children. I do, however, recognise that a form of discipline is necessary in order to help them distinguish between right and wrong. From the time when BabyMoo showed signs that he is 'aware' of his surroundings, we have always made an effort to talk to him in an adult manner, and introduce him to the world around him. Of course, this includes letting him know what he is and isn't supposed to do, which at his age - involved more don'ts! than do's. The 'disciplining' task, has been undertaken by DaddyMoo - without us even having to discuss it, simply because we both know that one of us has to assume the  'bad parent' role sometimes, and we know that I'm not up to the task.

DaddyMoo has always been a hands-on Dad. In fact, he was the first person to carry BabyMoo, since I elected to deliver via C-Section on General Anaesthesia. He was the first between the two of us to change BabyMoo's diaper in hospital. He also did the diaper changing whenever he's home from work. He feeds BabyMoo while I expressed BM, and BabyMoo actually sleeps better on Daddy's stomach than anywhere else. He got sprayed on countless times while changing Baby's diaper (I'm not sure why, but BabyMoo has never sprayed me when I changed him!). He made the effort to learn to bathe the newborn, whereas I was too much of a wuss to even attempt it. Throughout all this time, I've never once felt that I'm taking care of BabyMoo single-handedly. I could not ask for more.

BabyMoo at one month old... Daddy looks more tired than Mummy!

He did his research quietly online. For diapers, strollers, carriers, formula, and products. He actively looked for developmental toys. He found out about common ailments affecting newborns. He kept a cool head when BabyMoo started crying and tried to decipher his needs. He didn't allow me to panic, even when I suppose, looking back - he must have been worried as I was. I didn't realise it back then... but every time I voiced out my fear, he had a ready answer and a solution to try out. I don't know what I would have done without him.

When he was 3 weeks old, BabyMoo had a crying phase. He wanted to always be carried, and didn't like to be put down much. This happens even when he's asleep - the moment he's put down on his cot, he will almost immediately start wailing. DaddyMoo suggested that we try the Cry It Out (CIO) method, because I was at my wits end and almost falling apart from exhaustion. I had my Mother-in-law to help me out during the day, but as night falls, disregarding the two hourly feeds, it didn't help that he needed to be carried all the time. We were first time parents, and everything was basically trial and error for us. Looking back, I'm so thankful that the hubs never lost his temper once during this time with me, although I was taking my frustrations and fatigue out on him more than was called for.

When he started crying, it took everything within my willpower not to pick him up. I walked out of the room while the little one yelled, flailed, cried, sobbed, hiccuped, yelled some more, and screamed himself hoarse. For the next hour it continued, while the husband stayed in the room and tried to pacify BabyMoo with everything, short of carrying him up. I felt my heart break... and I cried, and cried, and cried. After almost 2 hours, he still hasn't stopped crying, only this time - it was a hoarse, piteous cry. I went into the room and picked him up, shouted at the husband that if he wants to make his baby suffer - he might as well just kill me. It wasn't DaddyMoo's fault at all... we were just trying our best, and everything is a learning experience.

Needless to say - that was the first and last time we attempted the CIO way. Perhaps it might work on other babies, but I know that I am not about to find out if the 2nd or 3rd time will work better on BabyMoo.

Now that BabyMoo is older, Daddy is always there to introduce him to new things, and to introduce the concept of play to him. BabyMoo has always been a 'gung-ho' baby, and his curiosity makes sure that he's always game to try out new things. However, he still has a mesure of fear, and it is Daddy he looks up to when he wants the assurance that he will be taken care of. The boys go on adventures together... and with Daddy, BabyMoo has a partner to show him how to play safe.

Feeding the fish with Daddy.

It's of little wonder then, that playtime is always associated with Daddy... but he also knows that when Daddy says "No" it's always best that he listens to him. As most boys are, BabyMoo always likes to push boundaries, and when he sees other kids climb or do things that he feels he can manage, he always wants to do the same. He can be very naughty and test our patience as well... and while I'm unable to restrain him through just mere words alone (Ah... It's only Mummeh!), I'm thankful that he still listens to Daddy.

He doesn't scream or yell to continue play when Daddy says that they've had enough, and he stops whatever it is he's attempting to do when Daddy tells him not to do it. He doesn't play with  electrical sockets after the one time Daddy told him not to, and he knows not to touch any dubious cups, mugs or plates on the table when we tell him that it's hot.

Daddy gets drenched - along with BabyMoo!

In a nutshell, he is well aware of the fact that Daddy keeps a tight leash on him, but he also knows that what Daddy tells him is all for his own good. He will cry and get upset when Daddy scolds him after repeated warnings - and turn to me for comfort, but it's amazing how when his sobs have subsided, he looks for Daddy to hug him, as though to apologise. It makes us so proud of him, and sometimes (now, more so than ever) the hubs is finding it more and more difficult to be the disciplinarian.

Sometimes we have to practise tough love in order to ensure safety for the kids, and to let them know that they can't very well get away with everything. That being said, different children need a different approach to educate them on how to live life, and parenting styles differ from one child to the next. It doesn't mean that if a parent seem to display a different set of rules from what we are used to - they aren't worthy parents or need Social services to look into them... I do believe that no parent in their right mind will intentionally harm their children. What works on one child may not work on another, and I do think that as parents, as much as we try to teach our children all about life in the hope that they will be equipped to handle it on their own in the future, our children also teach us a lot about what life is all about.

I hope that when BabyMoo is old enough to understand, he will also realise that as much as we scold him when he's being his naughty self - he is by far the best thing we've been blessed with in our lives. For all the wrong we've done, we may have done something right to deserve him.

Whatever we do is always for him, and what we believe is for his own good, because we love him more than anything else in the whole, wide world.

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