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Daddy’s Growing Up

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

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?

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  1. January 26, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I find that I’m far too quick with the yelling . . . I try to only go to it when there is danger of someone getting hurt, but, just last night, my daughter was playing in the trash can, again, and I pulled out the card that I always go to.

    Leila has learned from her brother, though, and started pretending to cry into her hands (he actually does – there is little that he hates worse than letting me down), and as soon as my back was turned, she smiled and started playing in the trash.

    My greatest fear is that my kids will grow up not liking me . . . for the most part, they’re really good kids. I have “the look” which I can get CJ into line with (there is no hope for the girl), but, for the most part, all I have to say is “don’t do that” and they don’t do whatever they were doing. And, as they get older, they realize “oh, he meant ‘don’t ever drag the cat by the tail’ as opposed to ‘don’t drag the cat by the tail right now.'”

    Dave Barry once wrote that, for your first kid, you journal EVERYTHING, even the stuff that, you know, will have no relevance later in life. For a second kid, you might expect a journal entry on the day he/she was born, and then “ages 2 days – 16 years, was potty trained, learned to drive.”

    • Pop
      January 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Yeah, I have the look too, and D2 has gotten it a few times. It’s NOTHING like my wife’s The Look. That puts the fear of God in me. I’m really trying hard to cut back on the yelling too, but it’s definitely not an easy thing.

      LOL – that’s pretty funny. But true.

  2. January 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Such wise words. But I wonder where people should draw the line? There are people in my family who have chosen such odd, (or non-existent?), forms of discipline that the kids act as though they are equals to the adults. They expect to be included in every adult conversation and decision. So does respect and knowing one’s place come just from love, or does there need to be a fear-factor in order to determine pecking order?

    Just thinking out loud here. Also distracted by three lovely, obnoxious boys, so forgive if my thoughts make no sense. 🙂

    • Pop
      January 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      It’s funny that after just 4 years of parenting, my kids screaming and carrying on is like whitenoise in the background – though that could just be b/c D2 isn’t all that loud. Yet.

      But yeah, you totally make sense, and I’m still trying to figure this whole parenting thing out (along w/ my wife of course). I don’t want to be a laissez-faire parent (I’m not even sure that term works in this context, but it French words seem to make an argument more sophisticated). Like John, I do want my kids to like me, but I definitely don’t want them to think that I’m their friend.

      Thinking about my relationship w/ God – it is a relationship based on love but there certainly is a fear-factor in there. Hmmm…..

      Step one for me is letting go of my fears and my need to control autonomous beings. Step two? I’m still figuring all that out. Hopefully, I’ll have this thing figured out before it’s too late. 😛

  3. Kim
    January 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I think I’ve tried all the methods you named, and then some: reasoning, ignoring etc. I definately go to yelling way too soon, but I swear I can ask them/talk to them about stopping something and they’re oblivious. I yell, “Stop that” and they look at me and say, “I didn’t hear you.” Ugh. But I hate being a family that yells . . . so it’s a tough one. I love this post, I should tell you. I often pray to be a better, more patient parent. And that Bible verse hits right where it should for me. Thank you!

    • Pop
      January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

      My wife was shocked when we got married at how my family communicated – we raise our voice for any and every conversation. When we had our own place, we yelled a lot less, and now that we’re back in with my parents? Go on. Take a wild guess. 😛

      The other day, I was yelling at my mom about something. I looked down and D1 hadn’t yet put on her shoes like I asked and she yells back, “OHHHH KAY!” Gonna have to learn this lesson quick.

  4. January 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Honestly, time out in our house really works. It’s like the time out chair is the most painful place in our house. PAINFUl.
    However when we are in public, he knows that I tense up when he starts acting bad. I hate repremanding him in public. It’s awkward…and you knkow that there is always some asshole out there who wants to comment about what you’re doing.
    Parenting is such a learning curve.

    • Pop
      January 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      I used to ignore comments from other moms and dads in public but I finally lost it a few weeks ago. D1 was being really cranky b/c I mistimed my errands and we were out WAY past her nap time. Some lady remarks, “Get your child under control.” And I snapped, “Oh I’m sorry. My daughter hasn’t had her nap yet. What’s your excuse?”

  5. January 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    First of all, I just read your reply to Kim above and I can’t believe someone actually said that to you in public. Your comeback was perfect.

    Mostly, however, I want to validate your concern here. Raising children WELL is just plain hard. Discipline, love, guidance, teaching, support, disappointment…

    It’s all in there. And then we all get tired. Not just the kids.

    So here’s to CARING in the first place; to loving above all else.
    And to properly timed naps.

    For everyone.

    • Pop
      January 31, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Thanks for the wisdom, Julie! I also hear naptime ends when kids turn 4 or 5 years old or something. I was hoping to give my daughter naps until she was 15 years old.

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