Recently I attended yet another webinar about parenting.
I hate to admit it, but every time I do I find myself wondering: why am I here?And why are parenting woes never ending?
Also, why are the questions parents ask at such gatherings almost always the same? Like endless loops acrobats leap through? Or the cycles of a washing machine that spins a constant rhythm of rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat?
– Why are my children so naughty/rude/defiant/etc?
– How can I make sure my kids are raised well?
– How do I be a better dad/mom?
Or some variations of these same old same old.
The non-parents out there must be rolling their eyes and wondering what all the fuss is about?!
Here’s what the fuss is all about
If you think about it, aren’t there more than enough literature, research studies, parenting self-help books/websites/podcasts, your neighbour’s nosy granny to go to for, or be bombarded with, answers?!
But then I told myself, hey like it or not, parenting is definitely something evergreen since there are new parents born every year right?
What’s ancient history to a seasoned (read jaded) parent would be like a shiny new toy to another eager-eye newbie parent. (By the way, I don’t believe in a jaded parent, only a naive “know-it-all” who is like that because he/she simply lacks self and relational awareness of the complexity that is this thing we call life)
And yes we may sound to outsiders or even veteran parents like we are broken records; always asking similar questions and hearing similar replies. Suggesting a constant fuss or worry we may miss out on something important if we don’t join yet another “reveal party” parenting conference, and so be less equipped than other parents!
Such pressure eh?!
That I suspect, however, is precisely what the fuss has been about, is about, and will always be about when it comes to parenting. The fear that this whole parenting thing could go horribly wrong, and its repercussions ripple ever wider in ensuing years of potentially irreparable consequences.
For this isn’t some corporate bottomline, where it’s just about losing and making back profits. This is about another human life, or lives if you are a parent to more than one child.
Who wants to live their remaining days with the label of an abject failure as a parent on their heads and consciences?!
And so we return again and again to the same questions all parents wrestle with across time.
So what are popular parenting questions?
While most parenting sites highlight practical day to day solutions to problems and challenges of parenting, I’m more keen to get to the root of the issue. (Cos from the start, my blog’s been about learning from transcendence on this raw and unfinished journey that’s my parenting life!)
So let me start by listing down some of the questions parents attending this week’s webinar posed. Then in future posts, I’ll share my take on them, and what I believe lies beneath these concerns. Not for any other reason except to try and figure out for myself where I am on my own raw and far-from-finished parenting pilgrimage.
For convenience, I’ve loosely categorised these questions, though as a caveat I must state upfront they are neither prescriptive nor absolute, and most definitely not exhaustive. I’ve also focused more on parenting questions raised in relation to the role of dads (for obvious reasons!).
1. The father confusion
– What are some tips we can adopt as fathers to learn to aspire/being a “Man of the household”?
– How to father boys who are sensitive and emotional? What if the father is the more emotional one compared to the mother?
– How to break free from the mindset that my children are better off without me? I cannot bring myself to father them in a non-critical way. I feel very trapped.
– How do you support a father whose heart has already been broken, due perhaps to generations of bad parenting?
– I already work hard to feed my family. Is there no space for me to rest and have alone time?
– As my teens get older I find myself struggling to balance being a (protective) dad and a friend/encourager. Any advice?
2. The spousal connection
– How can a wife help and assist the husband in connecting with the children?
– What to do when my wife constantly undermines and criticises me in front of my children?
– How do I support my wife and baby when I only have 2 weeks of paternity leave?
– How do we manage my mother in law wanting to manage and control our household and parenting style?
– How do I carry out all my fatherly duties as a divorced dad who does not have duty of care? (My ex-wife has been progressively reducing my contact with the kids)
– I (the wife) already work hard to keep my house clean. Why do I have to initiate everything?
– What is the best way to address the “Happy Wife, Happy Life” mantra? Is this something we should teach our children and if yes, how can we do it in a healthy manner?
3. The general conundrum
– How can I help a younger teenage relative who grew up with an absent father and is now showing concerning behaviours possibly stemming from it?
– How can fathers tread the delicate balance of being an authoritative parent without becoming authoritarian, especially towards pre-teens and teenagers?
– How not to lose my cool when my son make me angry?
– What should I do as a father/parent if I find out your child is being bullied? (Can be physical/online)
4. The specific conundrum
– How to excel as a father when I am suffering from clinical depression? I feel like I’m more of a danger than a dad!
– Are there pre-school dad communities that have the same level of engagement as primary schools?
– I left home because of gambling addictions. I have changed and would like to reconcile with my son now but he is not receptive. How should I deal with it?
– How can I raise the self esteem of my second born who can be easily insecure and lacks self confidence?
Well that’s it for now. Hope to unpack these in future posts.
Meantime, if you have any to add or (better yet) ready answers, please do comment and share below ok? Thanks!
Talk again soon!