New Year, New Perspectives

Look for the Things that Count

“Give them our presence, encourage them and show them that they are worth building a strong relationship with.”

F101 treeWe all want to give the best to our children, and with the New Year under way, what can dads do this year to make a lasting difference in helping our children realise their potential?

I recently learned that from a child’s point of view, it will never be iPads or Enrichment Programmes that they remember as being valuable contributions from their fathers. Children’s words say it all.

For instance, Julie Joseph said of her dad, “When I was feeling down, you held my hands and told me to walk tall.”

Meanwhile, Koh Poh Li wrote, “I remember how big (my dad’s) finger feels.”

Faith Koh recalled that when her dad was diagnosed with cancer, “During his treatment, he never complained… He even continued with his wisecracks…”

Winona Marie Labarinto Mazo remembered fondly her dad’s simple gesture when her skirt clip broke, “My dad ran all the way back to a store to buy a pin.”

We might not believe that such simple things will cause our children to realise their full potential. However, reading the reflections above has persuaded me that the only way to give our children a chance to reach for greater heights is to give them our presence, encourage them, and show them that they are worth building a strong relationship with.

Make it the Best Year Yet

It is understandably easy to take another year as just another stretch on the road to where we imagine that we want to go. To get the most of each part of the journey, however, it pays to make a good assessment of what you might find along the way – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and the like.

A good place to start is identifying and leveraging on our strengths. For example, I found out that ‘steadiness’ is my personal strength and everything I offer to my child stems from it and is multiplied by it.

You might have ‘intelligence’, ‘street smarts’, ‘self awareness’, ‘physical strength’, ‘spirituality’ or even ‘family values’. Bring your strength (or strengths) to the fore to provide a firm father foundation and strengthen your child.

Another powerful tool is knowledge of your child’s primary needs. True understanding requires listening, and building open communication. This year, do something different to open a new channel to understand your child and communicate with him. Good things are bound to happen.

The Dads @ on National Center for Fathering’s website, suggests having a “visioning session” as the year begins. Ask your child what he would like to learn and accomplish in the coming year, and do not let him say, “I don’t know.”

Understanding your child leads to an open road of possibilities and a rewarding journey on the road to maturing together.

My Beginning

I am a dad. For all of 90 days since my wife gave birth to our first child, I have basked in the miracle mix of unadulterated joy and acute bewilderment that comes with being an active father to a newborn. Nothing in my life has ever dished out in each spoonful, elation and humility, in perfectly equal portion.

“Is he eating enough? Is he eating too much? Should we track his growth by measuring input, output, length, weight, head circumference, or belly girth?” (Confession: we actually bought a kitchen scale to weigh his diapers).

Between the feeds and changes, baths and naps, I have had to grow into this new role, and in so doing gradually take hold of a new beginning. At the start of the New Year, I hope that you too, will look forward to creating your new beginning.

Becoming a father for the first time restored in me the sense of wonder and respect for life. Life which contains a force no artificial means can create or replicate. My priorities now centre on helping my son realise the promise that his years ahead will bring.

The change in perspective has allowed me to make changes, for instance, to my family’s lifestyle, so as to make room for our family’s need to develop not just the child, but our parenthood as well.

This year is also probably a big beginning for your child. By the mere fact that she is still a child, a large portion of her life will be experienced this year – so do help her to take hold of it and give her the chance to turn it into a year of growth, discovery and deepening relationships.

Think about: How do you want your child’s 2012 to end? What would you like to see in your child by year’s end?

Your story begins today…

Inspire us with your version of how you will make a difference. Tell other dads what you want your child to remember you for this year and how you plan to create those memories.

About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.

First published on 29-02-2012