21 August 2012, by Mandy Loh

The best gift to your child

We’re constantly inundated by advertisements telling us what the best gift to your child should be. According to private cord blood banks, it is storing your baby’s cord blood with them, while insurance agents tell us it is investing in an endowment fund for your child’s future education.

Actually, I would say that the best gift to your child is a happy, healthy marriage between mom and dad!

Although it might sound like I have vested interest in writing this (Tim reads this blog), but it is TRUE! Firstly, a happy marriage between mom and dad provides a child with a safe, secure, peaceful and loving home environment to grow and thrive in. Secondly, parents are role models of how husbands and wives should interact and treat each other. When parents have a good relationship with each other, the child will learn how to love, cherish and respect his or her own spouse in future. Thirdly, research has even shown that babies raised by unhappy parents suffer developmentally (gasp!) and lag behind babies of contented parents both intellectually and emotionally.

Ironically, the arrival of a baby in the family throws everything into disarray and chaos. Sleep is disrupted, sometimes for months on end. Priorities, time and attention are shifted to the little munchkin in diapers who now rules the roost. Physical exhaustion is a constant. With the upheaval, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of keeping the romance alive between husband and wife.

Personally, I know this all too well, as Tim and I hardly had time to even settle into our marriage proper before our twosome became a threesome. Books on couplehood were left neglected, gathering dust on the shelf, as I concentrated on reading up on parenthood and babycare during my pregnancy. And when Cristan burst into our lives, the whirlwind of parenting responsibilities consumed us daily, taking up every spare moment and energy.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to enjoy a bit of me-time recently as my father-in-law is in town, and Cristan, magically, has become a little more independent since turning one. As such, I decided to dust off some books and start reading again. Two books at once, in fact. “Experiencing Christ Together”, which teaches Christian principles of marriage and couplehood, and another that Tim was reading on his kindle, “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell.

The latter is just a fun read, while the former is a good reminder to me about the differences between men and women, and that conflicts, though inevitable, can actually strengthen a marriage when resolved properly. In addition, investing time and effort in keeping our marriage happy and healthy should be one of our top priorities as parents. It is important to not allow our lives to trundle along, busying ourselves with daily affairs, having petty quarrels about not seeing eye-to-eye, without putting in some effort in establishing strong bonds of love. It is also a great excuse to take time out to have dates, while leaving our child with a caregiver.

So this long weekend, that’s what we did! While Cristan had grandpa-grandson bonding time at home, Tim and I had a brunch-movie-coffee date with our group of friends, enjoyed a nice, uninterrupted dinner with deep, grown-up conversation (I really missed that!), and even managed to chill out at a beach party in Sentosa!

Being parents don't mean you can't have fun anymore!

The best part is, while we’re out enjoying ourselves, we can tell ourselves that we’re actually doing it all for Cristan! Hahaha…

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