Posted by Papa Sez | Friday, October 23, 2009

There are probably those among us wondering why on earth would someone want to spend time cleaning after a child’s mess that could range from the mildly annoying toys scattered all over to the stomach turning mishaps during potty training?  It appears counter-intuitive because fathers used to be secured in their designation as the breadwinner of the family and were happily oblivious of the fine points of child-rearing.  Back then life is definitely simpler.

The tide has turned and the norm seems to portray modern dads to be engaged in both providing for food and shelter as well as nurturing of children.  Many factors contributed to this shift, and modern moms gaining opportunities to work and earn is among the most important ones.

But for me, expecting dads to share child-rearing responsibilities is a welcome trend.  I can see many benefits not only to children and mothers, but also to fathers as well.  On the personal level, men can count on the following benefits in getting more involved in raising kids:

  1. We become better men.  This is not just the psychological high we associate with being loved and loving, and being needed and needing someone in return that we feel like better persons.  According to recent research findings, men do not merely endure child-rearing activities (i.e. because we had to).  There are actual physical and cognitive rewards or benefits derived from taking care of a child (and the wife). 
The sight, sound and smell of babies trigger biochemical changes in men that results in increased motivation, heightened problem-solving skills, greater resilience and enhanced stress-handling abilities.  These explain improvements seen in relationships and in work performance among fathers.  To know more about the scientific bases of how dads become better men, you can start with this news article.
  1. We secure the continuance of our family line.  Again, this is not merely perpetuation of our genes by fathering a child.  The likelihood of a child surviving and succeeding as an adult is dramatically improved with the support of a nurturing father compared to an absentee one.  Remember that the environment plays as important a role as do genes in our offspring’s success.

  1. We become happier men.  It could be a function of being better men as explained in #1 above as we perform, able to handle stress and relate with others better.  But the mere scent of a baby, the kiss goodbye or the “hey Papa” hellos elicit instant pleasure and lightness in spirit that I don’t need any explanation or convincing that being close to our kids brings joy to men. 

One of the keys to living a happier life is the maintenance of at least two good relationships, i.e. with someone a generation older and another one of a younger generation.  These relationships do not necessarily involve parents and offspring, as it holds true with non-blood relations.  Therefore, when we are able to do it with our own kids, we are hitting two birds with one stone as we foster better current and future relationships down the line to our grandchildren and generations beyond, and we ensure the maintenance of our family line at the same time.

  1. We understand ourselves better.  I don’t know if it comes with maturity (or living through a mid-life crisis), but as I began to see myself in my kids’ physical attributes, tendencies and behavior, I also began to fully accept my own biases, strengths and weaknesses. 

Genetics is indeed a wondrous thing, and so is the social influence into a person’s personality.  With understanding comes the conscious effort to commit to become better with what I have for my own and my family’s sake.  Who then is best to coach kids through life?  It’s none other than their parents if and when they have arrived at understanding their own selves first.  Being with our children facilitate such understanding as they mirror us in so many ways.

  1. We get a second chance.  This could mean getting many opportunities to be kids once more and play ball, lego and computer games in the guise of teaching or spending time with the kids (wink wink).  Or it could also be another shot at something we’ve wanted to be or do but never got a chance, or did so but blew it.  This desire to live our dreams through our kids is a powerful drive, but can lead to disastrous results if not handled right.  While it can be good to want our kids to be better than us, it has to be in the context of what they are and what they want to be (and not necessarily what we parents want them to be). 

So with the above caveat in mind, let us welcome our second chance at getting better results, whether at playing Nintendo or taking on the path towards virtuosity.

Lastly, don’t despair if you haven’t seen some of the above benefits accruing on you.  There’s a learning curve and it may be slower in certain people than others.  In my case, I only fully appreciated all these in the second batch of our kids and that came seven years after our eldest daughter was born.  Lucky me I got my second chance.

I won’t be surprised if there are other rewards or benefits of being a father that I failed to cover here, so please let me know about them.

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  1. flodelros October 23, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

    this blog reminds me those days my kids are baby stage....great blog...keep posting

  2. Leo Lobo October 24, 2009 at 2:11 AM  

    Seems so long ago...but worth remembering, right? Thanks for the comment and I hope you'll keep coming back. Regards.

  3. Eric V October 24, 2009 at 11:42 AM  

    Hi Hen, these are really inspiring thoughts... keep them coming.. Fatherhood was so far from our minds back then in college, huh… many times I feel overwhelmed raising three kids of my own and can’t help but wish I had some better preparation for the job like going through a training camp for would-be-fathers before having them come almost in a row … but then I guess there’s really no other way to learn this thing called fatherhood but “on-the-job”. I just hope that I am learning my lessons well and that my kids will grow up fine despite of me.

  4. Leo Lobo October 25, 2009 at 1:32 AM  

    Glad to hear from you Eric. I, too, worry sometimes about how I am doing on this "job" and often anxious about my children's future...quite overwhelming indeed. But I think we just have to believe that all will turn out well knowing that we're doing the best we can and acknowledge our shortcomings and learn from them. While at it, might as well enjoy the adventure and grow together as a family. Hope you'll visit often so we can compare notes and inspire one another. Thanks.

  5. jessie November 2, 2009 at 2:52 PM  

    simply amazing


    makagawa nga din ng ganito

    thanks kuya hen

  6. Papa Sez November 3, 2009 at 12:52 PM  

    Thanks for the visit Jessie...heard that you're planning to put up a blog. That's great! You'll have an avenue to express yourself through your poems, blogs, songs, and of course, your artwork. Give us a shoutout if it's ready for viewing.

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