Dads are better at some things

Tsinoy dads today are much more hands-on with the kids than in previous generations. While many still regard childrearing as mom’s turf, a dad’s contribution to raising a child cannot be discounted.
Women often still have the responsibilities for getting the child dressed, fed, go to school, do the homework, and at day’s end, ready for bed. Even with yayas, it is still considered mom’s job to supervise the staff. But without being told, a child learns how to deal with life by picking up on dad’s behavior and attitude.
In my book, my husband is one of the best child-minders I know. Our previous life in North America included two careers and no household help, and it was he who spent baby time so I could get my act together.
So how do dads outdo moms? Let me count the ways.
Dads are so much better holding a tired, squirmy, fussy baby.
Their bigger frames seem much more comfortable than mom’s tinier, bonier shoulders.
Dads are taller and can toss toddlers higher, give a bigger thrill and get more delighted squeals.
Dads are so much better laughing off minor incidents.
When baby wets her cloth diaper and Dad’s pants too, he is surprised then laughs it off. Meanwhile, I, the mom, is in a panic trying to stop diaper drip from messing up couch and carpet.
Dads are so much better with discipline.
My second child’s tantrums during his terrible twos made me wish I could send him back to the hospital nursery ward, from whence he came. A lot of scolding and cajoling didn’t work when he was being stubborn and having a fit.
So along comes Dad who decides time-out in a quiet corner is due. He carries the bawling, kicking child to the time-out corner. Kid howls “nooo!” and tries to run off. Dad calmly picks him up and brings him back, and has a quiet talk with him, explaining why he is in time-out, and consequences if he runs away again.
Acquiescence.
Amazing.
It never works with me.
Dads do not sweat the small stuff.
With him, it doesn’t matter if our children’s tops do not match the bottoms which do not match the shoes… just as long as they are covered properly for the weather and occasion. He sees the big picture while I fuss over color and style.
Dads build confidence.
Many years ago we had gone hiking in upstate New York. Our first-born, a toddler then, was too heavy to carry for extended periods of time. So he had her go up the hill and behind waterfalls, past rocky outcrops, around trees, marching, strolling, running, or dragging her feet, but on her own feet. She was dead tired that night, slept like a log. Today, as a young adult, she goes hiking, spelunking, scuba diving, confident in her own physical abilities.
Dads are good talking with the kids.
My husband guides the dinner conversation when both children were school-aged. It always begins with “Who did you sit with at lunch today?”
My younger child complained once that the same question was getting tedious. But the answers never were. Conversations went from his new best friend, or his old best friend, what they ate, and then on to playground games, homework and classroom incidents.
The conversations were revealing.
“Oh, and Mom, don’t put mustard in my roast beef sandwich next time please.”
“You like mustard.”
“Yes, but my friend doesn’t.”
“Why should that matter?”
“Because I traded him my sandwich for his sushi.”
At bedtimes, dads are the best!
While I fuss over the children’s sleepwear – are the blankets snug, did they brush their teeth – Dad is talking with our precocious kindergartener, who has just done something he shouldn’t have, and knew better.
“So what do you have to say for yourself?”
“I got confused, Dad.”
“You knew it was wrong. What’s confusing about that?”
“My head said don’t do it, but my heart said go ahead. That’s why I got confused, Dad.”
I struggled not to laugh. I could see my husband was also trying very hard to keep his face straight.
“Well, next time you make sure to listen to your head, okay?”
“Okay. Sorry.”
Big hugs.
Kid settles into bed.
“’Night Dad.”
Dad and I left the room as quickly as we could, shaking with suppressed laughter.
Dad is a super model for social and work behavior.
Today, both our children are young adults and work in the family enterprises.
They have surprised senior company officers with their work attitudes, like willingly slog through tasks, some unpleasant, some tedious, some even menial. Like lifting a desktop computer to move it instead of waiting for someone else to do it. Like staying till late instead of being the first to leave after work hours. Like doing site inspections instead of relying on reports in a comfortable air-conditioned office.
And getting the work done no matter what it takes, even if it means bringing work home on weekends, and short vacations, shorter than what the staff gets.
Both started out with tasks in certain departments. Both have gone beyond boundaries to learn what they can of the organization. Both have taken creative approaches to deal with issues and challenges.
Both remain organized so nothing falls through the cracks, making lists on spreadsheets, and following through, the way they see Dad with his lists.
They got this way maybe because they see Dad exercising a strong work ethic, who does whatever it takes to get tasks done, who also started out in one department and eventually learned the whole business on his own initiative, and subsequently took on leadership responsibilities.
The role modeling speaks louder than any amount of talking.
Dad shows respect and courtesy to family elders, peers, subordinates, women, wife and the children. In turn, the children too are respectful and courteous to others. And I fervently hope that someday, they too will have respectful relationships with their own spouses and children.
Is it said that a dad’s presence in the children’s lives, even just by simply having dinner with them regularly, has a steadying influence on youngsters. They are less likely to have behavioral problems and get into substance abuse.
It is easy to be a father and sire a child.
It is the greater challenge to be a dad, and see that the children grow into decent human beings.

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