The roles in parenting may be likened to a runner and a pacer; we offer our spouse the encouragement they need, and they do the same when we are struggling on this challenging yet rewarding journey.
In this feature, we want to acknowledge and celebrate the crucial role fathers play in our families.
As a father, I believe that the three main things I need to provide for my children are love, spiritual guidance and security.
Children need to know they're loved and their parents will be there for them. My sons have shown that they need love and security from both of their parents. I’ve noticed that when I have a busy season at work and get home late, the kids will ask where I am, and when they can expect me back, even though their mum is there and caring for them.
Each son also has a different primary love language. My eldest boy needs affirmation, while my younger one needs physical affection. I try to meet these needs when we are together, as a tangible way of showing my love. No doubt, it can be challenging after a long day at work.
Just like any other father, I believe that I need to provide financially for my family, so I work hard to make sure the boys’ basic needs are taken care of. While I am glad when I can give them extra luxuries like family holidays, I try to show them that working hard at a career is not just about making money, but about having a good work ethic and honing your skills.
Faith is an important part of our family. For me, being a provider also means taking care of my children’s spiritual needs. As a Christian father, I see myself as a spiritual role model. It's not easy, but I believe that with God's help it can be done. I always pray for and with my children. We read Bible stories together and discuss them. I also help out at our church’s Sunday School, and this is one way for my sons to see the importance of serving others, and hopefully live it out in their own lives.
To be quite honest, parenting can get tiring; it feels especially so when I’m physically tired and the children still require my time and attention. Sleeping in on the weekends is a thing of the past, as the boys are up early and I take that time to go cycling or play sports with them.
Fatherhood can be daunting as I know the children are always watching and mimicking my behaviour – I have to be a role model for them, which can be stressful! When I am worn out by the demands on my resources, I remind myself of my aim to raise confident and principled men, and this encourages me to keep parenting the way that I do.
If my children remember my fathering style and use it when they are fathers themselves, it will be a bonus.
Throughout our relationship, I’ve seen my husband at different life stages, as he moved from being a student and boyfriend, to a working adult and husband; but the most eye-opening (and my favourite) has been watching him in his role as a father.
After our first son came along, I opted to be a stay-at-home mother, and later, worked part-time. Caring for our kids can be a tiring and full-time job in itself, and I appreciate the practical ways that Xavier contributes to our family, and builds his relationship with the boys.
He is our sons’ Number One Play Buddy. When I play or hang out with the boys, it tends to be more structured or activity-based, like painting, a visit to the park or museum. When Xavier and the kids play, it’s usually rough and tumble — lots of mock-wrestling, giggling, running and absolute mayhem that can be heard from the next block.
I love that he makes time for this daily, even when I can see the exhaustion in his face from a busy day at work; in the toddler years, I’ve found him fast asleep in the playpen while the kids continued to climb all over him!
As the boys grow up, I find that they watch and follow Xavier more, and thus, he sets the standard and tone for their attitude and behaviour. This became very apparent to me when I found them doing household chores. When Xavier is home, he proactively helps around the home, with tidying up, doing laundry and washing the dishes – I’ve never had to ask for help, he simply steps up. Now that our boys are 7 and 9 years old, I find them washing and stacking dishes on their own too, and even sweeping the floor when they drop something. It comes naturally to them, because they’ve watched their father do it.
I wouldn’t say that we have parenting down to an art form – there are many times when we get exasperated with each other and I certainly have moments when I think, “I could have done a better job myself”. But I have realized the value in having my husband share the parenting load with me.
Our sons see their father is their friend, provider and protector, and also view us as equals in our marriage partnership. My hope is that they will carry what they learn, into their own relationships in future.
© 2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Celebrate Dad this June with great tips and awesome promotions. Download your free guide now!