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Thursday, April 4, 2013

7 ways fatherhood has made me a better man

The "Chope Food For The Needy" movement, which is a variant of the international "pay it forward" movement has generated quite a lot of interest in the social and main stream media.  The movement involves random do-gooders giving money upfront to hawkers so that they can give away free meals to the needy folks who would frequently roam the hawker centres to search for leftover/free food.

While such philanthropic gestures would not usually capture my attention - I have long viewed such things with a large dose of skepticism (remember high profile NKF and Renci cases), this simple movement has piqued my interest.

And I asked myself why.

I then recalled how I felt very enthusiastic about our idea to include corporate social responsibility into the business model of PriviKids.  In fact, it is how PriviKids got its name - we not only want to dress up privileged kids with stylish apparel but also want to serve the under-privileged kids by providing a convenient avenue for doting parents to donate used kids clothes to charities.

Perhaps fatherhood has changed the way I look at things and the way I behave?  I did a search online and found many dads who shared their own takes on how fatherhood has changed them for the better.  I thought about it and hopefully without sounding too full of myself, here is my list of how the arrival of Aiden has made me a better man (cue Robbie Williams singing 'A better man' in the background).

1.  Empathy

With Aiden's arrival, which was an early one at 5 weeks premature, I had the realisation that there are many helpless people that deserve our attention and care in order to survive in this tough world.  I could no longer continue to think that 'I will care about the less fortunate when I'm better off myself or in a better position to help them'.

Afterall, there is only that long you can put off changing your son's soiled diapers when it's your turn to do so before your wife screams at you.  Small gestures would mean the world to the helpless and it wouldn't take a big effort to make a difference to their lives.  We hope that through PriviKids we would be able to help under-privileged children feel more confident about themselves.

2.  Focus

Being a parent also motivates me to be more focused, whether at work or at home.  It allows me to leave work earlier so that I get to see Aiden before he sleeps, and it also ensures that Aiden get fed and dressed properly.  I have been scolded many times by Mummy Cher for getting the golden milk-powder-to-warm-water-to-room-temperature-water ratio wrong.  I have sometimes also caused much furore in the local fashion scene by putting tee-shirts on Aiden the wrong way.  Apparently, 'it looks the same to me' is an untenable defence.

3.  Patience

I am sure most parents would agree with me that they have become more patient people with the arrival of their children.  One simply cannot put your child to sleep by rushing through how the hungry caterpillar suddenly became a beautiful butterfly and do it only once.

4.  Contentment

Kids find contentment and happiness in the smallest and simplest of things. By going into their world, it makes you appreciate the small things in life better.  No need for an expensive meal at a fancy restaurant anymore, when a simple meal at McDonalds will do, as your kid can make a mess and you won't feel embarrassed.

5.  Sense of purpose

I finally realise why men (including myself) generally have the ability to sleep through the night like a log without being awaken by anything - fire, alarms, a bawling baby.  So that we wake up fresh in the morning to  play and keep up with your hyperactive toddler!

6.  Different perspectives

After we had Aiden, I have brand new perspectives on many things and in a good way, for example, getting your hands dirty with poo while changing diapers is a good thing if it means that your child finally had healthy bowel movements.  Or being told that your son is a bully in school is actually a good thing, because it means that he is not the one being bullied.

7.  Sense of responsibility

I now know that everything I say or do would directly influence how Aiden behaves or thinks.  I also have to be careful when dancing with Aiden and make sure he's not following too close behind me. See video below.

I've shared my 7 ways fatherhood has made me a better man.  Share your experience with me!


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