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There’s no one right way of how fatherhood should be, and nothing can prepare you enough for the journey of bringing up your child. There will be good days, and days, when you feel like you are losing it all.

If you are a new parent or about to be one, you are likely to have expectations of how things are “supposed” to go. We spoke to seven fathers to find out if their fatherhood expectations turned out to be reality. More than anything, we learnt from them that Fatherhood is a learning journey where it’s important to be open, flexible and supportive.

 

Expectation: Fatherhood will come naturally

These fathers expected fatherhood to come naturally, here is what happened…naturally.

 

In reality: It is a constant learning journey for both parent and child.

Puvanesh, father of 3: There are NO manuals to prepare you for fatherhood, although there are tons of prints on the dos and don'ts. Parenthood, in general, is such a blissful experience, even after a tiring day of cleaning after three children, debating them on their activities and chasing after in the park. Be it having one child or more, each child is unique, extraordinary, with different wants and needs.



Both my wife and I tried to absorb the positive habits from our family and friends around us. This was very helpful for us. We used to share our notes from time to time and sometimes laugh at the antics the new generation of kids can pull off. When the kids are all sleeping like innocent angels, my wife and I will gaze in admiration at how fortunate we are to have them, so quiet and peaceful until they wake up in 8 to 10 hours.

To me, we need to be open to making mistakes, forgive ourselves and enjoy the whole journey with our spouse. The children are not the only ones learning, so smile and laugh as much as you can.

 

In reality: Practice was needed

Vinod, father of 1: My wife, Serena, and I longed for a child and when Verina first came into our family, I remember her snuggling in my arms that first time. Changing diapers and bathing her did not come naturally. I felt I was holding a precious breakable gift and I was very nervous about changing her diapers.

Despite that, Verina had such a magnetic grip on me, so much so that I would walk directly to her each time I returned from work, and Serena would insist that I washed up first. Verina is now 3 and she still rules my heart. My wish for my daughter is to always know her worth, to be respectful but to also defend herself and those who need defending.

 

Expectation: Parenting courses and parenting books will make me a pro!

If parenting didn’t come naturally, would going for courses or reading books help? Here are what some fathers shared based on their experiences.

 

In reality: Practice makes perfect

Roger, father of 1: Before Emma was born, my wife and I had imagined tasks like bathing a baby, preparing milk, washing milk bottles and even swaddling a baby were too easy to call for a course... that was until we attended a parenting course and saw how clumsy we were during the hands-on session. I even had to ask the instructor to demonstrate swaddling again, multiple times before I could swaddle a doll right.



After Emma was born, we decided to hire a nanny to help ease us into caring for Emma. On the nanny's first day, she noticed the way we swaddled Emma wasn’t right, so she guided us through the process. After much practice and guidance from the nanny, I am proud to say that not only is my swaddling skills almost perfect, I am also very good at diaper changing!

 

In reality: I learnt a lot from my son and others

Shaleen, father of 1: I expected that as a Father I had to always be on my toes and I am the only one who is responsible for how my son turns out. However, in the last 7 years of parenting, I learnt a lot from my son and the people from all over the world who study the science of happiness & human relationships.

In addition to this, the last 1 year of pandemic life has helped me understand that there are so many factors that are not in my control.  But what I can do is LOVE my child, no matter what. And with love comes trust and honesty that generates mutual respect – a foundation for any relationship.

In our father-son relationship, we forgive each other for the mistakes we make and take it as a learning experience. That is to say, we both understand that we are humans, and we will grow together in this relationship – with love – and in this process, we will be making memories to cherish forever.

 

In reality: Every child is different, be flexible and supportive

Malik, father of 3: Fatherhood did not come naturally to me. My parents worked very hard and I was left to fend for myself. That was life and I had a set book of rules that I wanted to follow to ensure that I became a better father. I very quickly realised that there was no fixed formula. My three sons, Erhan (18), Ershad (15) and Mika (8), are all different. They are unique individuals. I had to change and ensure that I became supportive so that their aspirations are met. Fathers must realise that our kids need to lead their lives and we must always be there unconditionally. Living our dreams through them is selfish. Watching them grow and blossom is much more satisfying.

 

Expectation: Work time, me-time and family time will be managed separately.

Work is inevitable and it is natural to want to have me-time on top of family time, but what would work best? We hear from these fathers on their personal views.

 

In reality: Work-life integration works best for me.

Philip, father of 1: Being a first-time dad to my now 7 months old daughter, it has been a thrilling yet trying journey. I believe those who work from home during this pandemic while having to care for a child like me can attest to the challenge of juggling both work and childcare responsibilities.



I used to believe very much in the philosophy of work-life balance and was determined to live that out as I progressed in my family life stage from getting married to now having a kid. However, I've come to realise and accept the reality that it's almost impossible to achieve perfect work-life balance (however one defines it), especially if you're working a demanding or odd hour job like myself, working with youths. In the process, I've found myself embracing a new philosophy called work-life- integration, where I involve my daughter in some work-related meetings, she has brought much joy and enhanced my relationship with the youths I work with too! That's how we get to spend and enjoy time meaningfully.

 

Reality: I am glad to share my “Me-time” bonding with my daughter

Farhan, father of 1 + another coming soon: Watching soccer used to be my "me-time" but now it's a father & daughter bonding time with my 4-year old as she curiously asks me many questions about the soccer match. She is seen here being playful during half-time. She even brought her toy ball to practice some kicking together after seeing how excited I get during soccer matches!

I am glad and thankful to share these little moments with my daughter that she will remember as fond memories.

 

So fathers and fathers-to-be out there, fret not about Fatherhood. It is a journey where you’re continuously learning and one that will surely be worthwhile. Happy Father’s Day!

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