Daddy’s Growing Up
I pressed record and carefully crept out of the room. One of our guests asked me, “What’d you do?” “Oh, I just setup the tripod in D1’s room and I’m recording her nap just in case she does something cute.” “Seriously,” he replied, “She’s 2 months old!” “Well, sometimes she makes cute little sounds and stuff. I don’t want to miss it!” “Just watch,” he said, “If you have more kids, you’re not going to do anything remotely like this.” “Whatever,” I maintained, “If I have more kids I’m going to take even more footage of them!”
Up until D2 was born, I guaranteed that I’d take just as many, if not more, pictures and videos of her.
A year later, when I went to edit the video for her Dol, I was shocked! “Ummmm, Ok. Let’s see…We have quite a few clips in August 2010…..and OH! Some good ones in September….and….that can’t be right. The next clip is in December?!?!?! Did I lose some clips?!?!” Our pictures were even more sparse. In one picture, D2 is chunky like this, and in the next, she’s got teeth.
At this rate, Baby #3 will be lucky if he/she gets any pictures taken.
Obsessively documenting feetstones (get it? they’re so close together, you can’t call them a milestone?! sigh) isn’t the only way that I’ve grown up as a dad.
When D1 was little, I thought my #1 priority as a father was to make sure she was obedient. Since D1 was a girl, we initially thought that she would have me wrapped around her finger and mommy would have to discipline her, but my wife became infatuated with her. So much so that she began having thoughts of giving up her career and staying at home with our kids. So although I was absolutely enamored with D1, I took upon myself to be the disciplinarian.
This often led to screwups. Painful, painful screwups. “Of course I’ll have to yell initially,” I thought, “But as she gets more and more disciplined, I’ll be like those supermoms who can control their kids without even raising their voice.”
A steady dose of Super Nanny and watching other moms nodding approvingly of other such moms at the mall gave me the idea that being a good parent means you are in control, not the child.
Sleep training by crying it out, time outs, spankings. You name it, I tried it. The worst part is, it was actually working and I patted myself on the back and made myself feel better by saying, “Sure, she may dislike you now, but she’ll thank you when she’s older.”
Then one morning I came to Romans 8:14-16 in my devotional:
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
I prayed, “Father, thank You that You don’t lead me with fear but with love.” Then I heard God speak (no, it wasn’t like James Earl Jones in my head), “Do likewise.”
At that moment, I realized I was leading my daughter out of fear. I was afraid of other moms at the mall judging me. I was afraid of being called a bad parent. I was afraid that by not meeting certain milestones, she’d be doomed to a minimum-wage job for the rest of her life. Overreact or neurotic much?
So what does fear do? It leads to the desire to control, whether that be the situation or people.
I realized it was time for daddy to grow up. To let go of my fears and understand that obedience isn’t the goal of parenting but love.
That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped spankings and time outs – I still discipline my children. But my mindset has changed. My goal isn’t to put a system of control around my children but to inspire and love them. And that’s made all the difference in my relationship with my kids.
What about you? How have you “grown up” as a parent? How has your parenting changed from your first child to second and beyond?