Three years and counting: Fatherhood amid the spilled milk of everyday family life

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Nathaniel was admitted to the hospital for the first time in this picture.

As the year 2015 is closing in two days, it’s also the best time to recall the happenings of the entire year which are now stored as memories in the memory bank of everyone’s mind. The good memories would be forever cherished and missed, while the bad ones most people would try their best to forget. The following are my fair share of some of the good, the bad, and the ugly happenings of my life in the past three years:

August 12, 2012

Nathaniel, my firstborn son, was born. I have waited outside the labor room area for almost twenty-four hours, tired, hungry, and sleepless. I was so worried and nervous at that time about what causing all the delay for my wife to deliver a birth that I lost my appetite. But the joy upon seeing my son for the first time is priceless and that it’s all worth the sacrifices I’ve made and been through.

January 01, 2015

Nathaniel was hospitalized for the first time due to seizure caused by a high fever: the time was 5:45 in the morning. It was so sudden and quick it didn’t even cross my mind about him to suffer from it because a few hours before he was very jolly and alive watching the fireworks exploded in the night sky welcoming the New Year. He stayed for three days in the hospital and he recovered soon after.

July 20, 2015

Nathaniel was hospitalized again due to seizure caused by a high fever. This was the second time my son was admitted to the hospital. Like the first time he was hospitalized, it was so sudden and quick and there was no sign it would lead up seriously to that.

December 30, 2012

Nathaniel’s christening. He was finally a Christian from that time on. I thanked the Lord Almighty for that and asked Him to guide my son all the way.

August 12, 2013

Nathaniel turned one. It was a joyful moment and my son was obviously enjoying the party. It was held in Jollibee, a popular Filipino fast food restaurant.

Sometime in June 2014

My laptop malfunctioned. Later I found out my Email address was hacked and I can’t access some of my accounts online anymore. Trying hard to recover the lost accounts but to no avail. I’m losing clients as a result. Contemplating on starting over again from scratch and it must be soon.

If I’m going to list down one by one about the happenings my life has been through in the past three years, it would take a book for all of you to read. But this post has been cut short to take note only some of the most important of events, not that other events are less significant, so you would still have a lot of time to spend for other things considering that the New Year is only two days away, which usually keeps people busier than in any other days of the year. As you can see, 2015 was a not-so-friendly year for me but I cannot turn back the clock and try to prevent the ugly things from happening; I must live with it without losing enthusiasm and faith in myself.

The past three years handed me the experiences I would surely need along the way, especially in the fatherhood and parenting aspects of them. I was taught a lot in as much as I had this great need to teach my own son. And one thing it has taught me about was that one of the best ways to grow closer with my son is to accept my failure, if ever I fail, as a parent.

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How Christmas has changed a lot through the years, and why it’s still the same thing after all

Pasko_03Recalling the Christmases of your childhood is to feed your mind with what were you missing most about them. In my case, after the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, we went straight from the church to the house to gather for the traditional Noche Buena. It was a special get-together dinner for the whole family.

The Yuletides of my youth were more alive and festive. The cooking was done in a very traditional way and it seemed like most people then took the holiday seriously and with a lot of heart, and more personally. The aroma of adobo (adobo is a favorite Filipino dish) and tinolang manok (tinolang manok is chicken stew); bingka (rice cake) and other popular and favorite Filipino delicacies.

There was a time, during my childhood, when I believed Santa was alive and was actually giving gifts to children who are doing good. While I now know that Santa doesn’t exist, it didn’t really harm me to imagine at all. All kids will undergo this stage called “fantasy life magic years” after all.

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My three-year-old son wearing a Santa costume.

Christmases of the present time are a lot different. With the introduction of ultra-modern technology, the old-fashioned Christmas preparation has drastically changed. The older ways may soon be gone completely forever.

Some parents may ask: “Will our kids recall their early Christmases as we do?” Today’s kids grow up with many celebrations to remember and with many high-tech gadgets to distract them. Or it’s because life was, obviously, simpler then than it was today.

Change can either be both a blessing and a curse. When you’re driven to change a thing for the better, then it’s a blessing. If the changing of a thing is only meant for the worst, then it’s best for that particular thing to be left alone.

Christmas is all about God’s love for us. Because He so much loved the world, according to the New Testament in the book of John chapter three verse sixteen, that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not die but have everlasting life. God the Father has given us His greatest gift through His Son Jesus.

And how could the earthly fathers become perfect like the heavenly Father? It is through joining Him in making such a perfect gift of self to their kids. Everyone must know that generosity is synonymous with fatherhood.

Cultivating this kind of generosity means to be creative. From time to time a father should be offering lavish, extravagant displays of love, looks for special moments just so he could show his tenderness, reinforces the reality of his love when it’s unexpected, always makes time just to be with the kids, relies on the element of surprise in giving signs of affection, and so much more. It is about a father’s caring so much for his children, and that all that he does for them concerns him so closely.

Christmas should be something that reminds us what it is all about. The way people may come to celebrate Christmas could change a lot over the years, but as long as they continue to give their gifts of love to others then it’s still the same thing no matter what. Merry Christmas to one all!

Saying yes to the yes method of child rearing

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Nathaniel was taking time to pause for a moment while an acquaintance took his picture.

Although it doesn’t come naturally, but the “yes” method of child rearing, according to child experts, is far more effective than its exact opposite which is the “no” method. Oftentimes, parents who make it a habit to say no to almost everything concerning their children would, actually and in fact, only be getting a pout, kick, or even a scream in return until the white flag is raised. Then they will realize there has to be a better way so that by next time that their children make a request it has to be approved first by saying yes, unless there’s a very good point why they have to really mean no.

Saying yes to a child is one important way a parent can do in maintaining a positive atmosphere in the home, aside from the fact that by catching him being good is just as equally important. Parents should get into the habit of saying yes, unless they have a really good reason for saying no and should stick to such a decision no matter what. They will be surprised how often they can say yes to their children without compromising standards, plus the fact that their positive response can only make them feeling happy as a result.

If you’re the kind of parent who desires easy obedience, then you must have to follow this simple rule: If you don’t want your child to pout and nag you into changing your mind, say no only when you’re absolutely sure you mean it. Even if you’re the kind of a parent whose temperament isn’t that naturally optimistic, yet you can learn to become a positive one. All you have to do is to make the “yes” method of child rearing your ultimate goal, then you can learn to begin saying yes instead of a “no” if at all possible.

Saying yes to your child does not mean you’re wishy-washy. The more it does not mean you’re allowing him to get his way. But with the yes method, you’re making easy obedience possible by creating a warm, positive atmosphere where a child is nurtured with positive affirmations and rewarded for positive behavior.

Sometimes, it is good to just let your child be

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 A child is like a sponge that absorbs the influence he is seeing from his environment, and from that of his parents.

No parent would like to see clutter and chaos in the house as these things could often result his or her having to feel irritable and irrational. And who else won’t love to be in an orderly and well-organized environment where you can be more productive and even-tempered? For you, there’s nothing that can please you more than seeing well-arranged variety of things and goods, and uniformity.

You like to see the straight lines formed by what is neatly stacked merchandise. You like to see neatly folded clothes piled in the closet. You like to see kitchen utensils properly arranged to where they should be.

You’re not a perfectionist one over everything, of course. But you simply just want to make the best of everything and in order. Not until your child came to ruin it all.

You started to feel not liking the way things are going. You felt frustrated, tired, and, at times, in a state of giving in for your child. And that’s where you went in the end.

Your straight lines were replaced with curves and crooked lines everywhere. White walls, that were once spotless and clean, now became a wide canvass stained with everything-you-can-imagine work of art. Of course, you have scolded your son or daughter for that matter many times over, but to no avail.

Then you remember that old adage that says, “If you can’t lick ‘em, jine ‘em.” You have made up your mind already, hoping it would be all worth a try. “If you can’t neat them,” you were saying as if to challenge your very own self, “why not join ‘em?”

It doesn’t mean you would now also join in your child’s clutter; it would only worsen the problem. Instead, you have to live with the realization of the fact that your child’s mess should be interpreted as a celebration of the innocence of his or her childhood. As a result, you started lowering your housekeeping standards just enough so as not to also disregard the laws of asepsis and personal hygiene.

Once you accept the clutter your child is making, you’re also giving him the freedom to be just himself. Which do not necessarily mean, to whatever extent or degree, that you’re also allowing him to get to manage his own affairs nor to run the house. There are limitations, of course.

It is your duty to let your child learn that it is necessary for every home to have some order. Young as he or she is, he or she should learn that order and organization in the home is of the utmost importance. In that sense, both of you would not only end up feeling happy, but learning from each other as well.

In the metaphorical sense of it, a child is like a sponge that absorbs the influence he or she is seeing from his or her environment, and from his or her parents. It’s all right to allow him or her of his or her clutter, but it’s vital as well that he or she learns about order and organization in the home.

Sometimes, for most parents, it has become easy to forget that a child is a child, and he has to act his age. Some parents would even push their child to grow up quickly, expecting him to act as an adult. What could be worse is that, sometimes, some of these parents ask their innocent kid to make straight lines when all he can manage to do at the moment is a crooked line leading nowhere.

Parenthood can teach you a lot of things. One of them is to try looking for the more important things than what just an impeccably clean and tidy house can do and offer. Straight lines don’t make a happy family, but what these little crooks and curves can do and offer is to spice up what would have been a dull and boring world if everything were in perfect straight lines.

Why a child needs a positive attention from his parents

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Handling well of my toddler’s tantrum.

Regardless of the inborn characteristics of children, they all need positive attention from their parents. The lack of it could simply result into what could be a tremendous behavioral problem. Criticism, negative comments, and complaining are discouraging and often result in more misbehavior.

On the other hand, when you encourage them, being the optimistic parent you could be, and one who demonstrate positive strokes are to them as fertilizer is to plants. That’s the kinds of things that really make children flourish. Each child has this so great a need for continuous encouragement just as a plant needs water.

The child’s behavior that gets his parent’s attention should be rewarded and reinforced. Of course, it’s easy to notice a child’s misbehavior, but if you want easy obedience you must be careful not to reward that behavior with undue attention. Instead, as you’re trying to catch your beloved child in the act of being good, you can reward the positive ones.

Children are born with different characteristics that may, in one way or another, make them either easy or difficult to live with. Nevertheless, they need to feel special. They need to be accepted for who they are, to hear compliments, and to be recognized.

Child experts suggest about the importance of giving each child with at least fifteen minutes of his or her parent’s undivided attention every single day. To start with, a parent must allow his or her child to choose an activity to do together. It must be organic and natural, avoiding all forms of electronics as these types of things don’t necessarily require a healthy interaction.

It is best if you can convince your child to play board games with you, or engage in plays that can stimulate his creativity and imagination. When your child is older, you can go for a walk with him, or to simply just spend time talking with him. What’s important is that you’re showing your child that he has your complete and undivided attention.

Some tips on what kinds of things should parents read to their newborn

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Nathaniel at two weeks old.

From day one until the baby reaches two months old, parents can read aloud anything they like. What’s important during this particular stage of a baby’s life is to simply allow him or her to hear the mellifluous tones of his or her parent’s voice. You can read straight from the text, whether it is a novel or some popular nursery rhyme books.

If you noticed that your baby would fall asleep each time, in the middle of your reading session, it is to indicate that he or she loved the closeness and security of your voice. Your baby already heard and recognized your voice even when he or she was still in the womb. When you begin reading every single day on since the baby’s birth, he or she will get used to it and will come to expect it as part of his or daily routine.

There’s no special way to read at the start, but all you have to do, as a parent, is to just read any way you like and to take notice on how your child reacts. Some babies may seem to prefer certain tones of voice, or perhaps a particular book you’re reading aloud before his or her birth. You can begin observing your baby’s responses at birth when you read and you’ll notice, in one way or another, the subtle ways in which newborns absorb everything you say.

As he or she grows up, what you have observed about him or her will give you clues to the best books and ways in which you could read aloud. A study suggests that the human auditory system is fairly well developed by the sixth month of pregnancy. It leads, therefore, to the conclusion that babies can hear their parent’s voice as well as music and other sounds while yet in the womb.

You can read anytime you like, even while your baby is sleeping. There’s no difference between the brainwaves of a newborn who is asleep and one who is awake. At birth, although it may appear babies are asleep, they can hear and be stimulated by sounds.

Important lessons every parent could learn from the parable of the prodigal son

PRODIGALMany people are quite familiar with the parable of the prodigal son which can be read in Luke 15:11-31 in the New Testament of the Holy Bible. In case you forgot, and for those who still may have never heard about it, here’s a quick recall or summary:

There was a wealthy man who had two sons. The younger of the two asked his father for his share of the estate. The father, without asking any conditions from his younger son, divided the estate and gave the younger son his half. With his new-found wealth, the younger son went off to a faraway land where he squandered his money on extravagant, loose living.

After he had spent everything, that there was nothing left, a famine struck the land, forcing himself out to as lowly as farmhand tending to the pigs. It came to the point when, after much suffering, the young man decided to return home and to beg his father for forgiveness. As the younger son his father’s house, he was seen by the father who easily recognized him even from afar and run to hug him.

When the younger son finally entered the house of his father, the father, in great display of excitement and joy, commanded the servants to prepare a grand welcome party. But the older brother, upon learning about his brother’s return, became angry with his father for the lavish celebration. The older told his father, “I never disobeyed one of your orders, yet you never gave me so much as a kid goat to celebrate with my friends.”

The father replied: “My son, you are with me always, and everything I have will be yours. But we have to celebrate and rejoice! This brother of yours was dead and has come back to life. He was lost and is found.”

Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son should be a model for perfecting the father-son or father-daughter relationship. It showed a father’s great love for his children and of taking care so much about them. Here are some of the important lessons every parent could learn from the parable of the prodigal son:

A PARENT NEEDS TO LET HIS OR HER CHILDREN MAKE MISTAKES

From the parable of the prodigal son you can reflect on the kind of father who gives his son the freedom of choice.  His younger son decides to choose on making mistakes. Of course, there’s nothing more anguishing for a parent than seeing his or her child gone astray.

The father understands very well what his younger son needs and so he has given him the opportunity to experiment, to find solutions, taking risks, and even to fail at attempted tasks. His younger son has come to spread so much of himself out for these kinds of things until he finally figured it out where he was and where he should be going. Everyone’s self-esteem, including that of a child, requires both relationships that could support their ability to solve problems as well as the lived experience of overcoming actual challenges.

A PARENT NEEDS TO HAVE A FERVENT PRAYER LIFE

The younger son’s decision to depart from his father by demanding to him, “Father, give me the share of the estate that is coming to me,” must have broken his father’s heart. A parent needs a spiritually astute soul in perceiving the reasonableness of a child’s request that initially seems extreme. A father who practiced and led a fervent prayer life can have the intervention of the Holy Spirit to guide and make him understand all of what’s happening.

A PARENT MUST BE A GENEROUS GIVER

Imagine what the father gives his reunited child—everything a father can give—only shows that the father wants to invest his son with the life of his own. The father recognizes just how much his formerly “bad boy” image son needs to be generated. When you’re generated, you will know you belong to one whose constant love is there sustaining you.

A PARENT SHOULD MAKE HOME A PLACE WORTH REMEMBERING AND RETURNING TO

Finally coming to his senses, the prodigal son has made a decision that will change his current status. He is now more than convinced to believe the fact that his salvation lies in returning to his father. When you try to find happiness apart from the Almighty Father, you’ll end up wanting, sorrowful, and impoverished.

In one way or another, a parent cannot predict or prevent turmoil that his or her child may be encountering but a good father or mother is one who creates in the present the memories that will sustain his or her child in future conflicts. He or she is most trustful and with unwavering hope that his or her sons and daughters will come to their senses and return to the fold—the right path.

Fatherhood and the moral compass to live by in guiding children

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Fatherhood is the mission that allows a man to give of himself unreservedly.

Talking about morality, most people are quick to defend on the fact that an individual person’s opinion belonging to his or her own and equal to that of anyone else. There are some who think there can be no objective and commonly agreed upon moral norm. For these people, morality is viewed as an illusion.

You may have heard many times over from a lot of people about morality being a completely personal and subjective choice. This position has become one of the most widespread and pernicious challenges to morality that today’s society is facing. As a result, some people would come to ask: “Do values have any value?”

There’s a sense in which you’re creating the world in which you live. You, as an individual person, have the power to make decisions, and the effect of all those choices could result in the goodness or badness of the society in which you belong. Every action you’re taking affects not just you and the immediate people you are going to interact with, but the world.

To make a good moral choice, it is important to consider the fact that you’re, in the first place, choosing. All choice involves an object. You’re choosing this one particular object, for example, rather than that.

Given the basic human inclination to choose what can be good for you, your personal choice would always be directed to a perceived good. Once each of the objects has some real or perceived goodness from among a whole range of goodness, then problem could arise. There’s right and wrong, human freedom, and the choice people are going to make individually.

All parents want obedience from their children. But it should be the kind of obedience that is not based in fear, so that it would be best understood as a loving response to having been loved first. Real love is the person’s willingness to collaborate and work for the good of another.

Living out the vocation of fatherhood is a calling, by which all men should imitate the holiness that led Christ to give his entire self for the love of others. Fatherhood is the mission that allows a man to give of himself unreservedly. The father is the prophet to his children by fulfilling his obligation to teach them what is good and the Christian morality.

A true father should engender filial fear in his child by loving him and believing in him simply because that child is his. There are times when he’s going to generate such a filial fear upon knowing the worst about his child, yet in that knowledge opts to loving the child all the more, precisely because that child needs the father’s love. He doesn’t get upset or fatalistic about his child’s failures.

A good dad must not only know that he is there to choose the good, he must have the intention of choosing something good. When he sets out to do something he must will to do the right thing. But the people’s will or that of an individual person cannot turn what’s wrong into something good.

Life is complex, unpredictable, and sometimes chaotic. Moral decisions are difficult. But there’s no need to fear because you have a sure moral guide in Christ Jesus.

Twenty important safety measures every parent must observe this Yuletide season

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Thinking about Christmas is also thinking about your safety and to take it seriously.

Enjoying the holidays is important, but keeping in mind that bad things still happen to good people, even during Christmas, is a wise move. Keeping sensible during the holidays is often difficult, and it’s all because the spirit of the season itself becomes an instrument to becloud people’s perspective. A lot of things could happen because of the ways people traditionally celebrate the holidays.

When you think about Christmas, it is advisable to also think about the safety measures that must be observed as it is during this time of year that people tend to do more or trying to do too much. People have plenty going on, and there’s a great chance that their awareness of personal safety drops down as well. Here are twenty important safety measures every parent must observe this Yuletide season to reduce the risk of something going wrong:

  1. Try going easy and slowing down a bit. People with a history of heart problems should avoid getting too tired and taking or doing too much.
  2. Set realistic goals and try to examine values. There’s no more depression at Christmas than at any other time and it’s setting in when high expectations don’t match reality. It’s become highlighted during the holiday season but it’s also a great time to try examining personal values and live them out.
  3. Take extra precautions when shopping. If you’re shopping with small children, be sure, at least, that they know how to ask a sales clerk for help should they get separated from you. Be watchful to your surroundings and the people around you, yet always try walking and carrying yourself confidently.
  4. Always remember to inspect electric lights for broken or cracked sockets and frayed wires.
  5. Don’t connect more than three sets of lights to one cord as this will lead to power overload especially if you’re using extension cords.
  6. Use only outdoor lights that are identified for outdoor use and these should be weatherproof.
  7. Stay away with candles as these are considered extremely dangerous fire hazards.
  8. Artificial Christmas trees should be tested and labeled fire resistant.
  9. Never go to a party with an empty stomach. Chances are, when you go to a party hungry, you’ll be eating more than what you should only be eating for one meal, and you’ll be paying less attention with what you are eating.
  10. Don’t drink and drive. That’s one very important safety measure people should observe in order for them to travel safely going and coming from holiday parties.
  11. Keep your moderation in everything. Too much of something can be bad or dangerous whether to your health, personality, and general well-being.
  12. Don’t be too obsessed about losing weight especially with a wrong diet method. Starting a new diet can only add more stress during a stressful time.
  13. Try toning down the image of a postcard-perfect holiday. While stress is something that can’t be avoided, the way you’re preparing to handle it will make a lot of difference. Don’t let stress affect you that much.
  14. Be optimistic and positive. Kids will often mirror the emotional states of their parents. A frazzled parent could send confusing messages to his children, who want simply to enjoy the holiday.
  15. Do not include in your list of decorative holiday plants, plants that are not safe for children as these are labeled poisonous: holly berries, mistletoe, and poinsettia.
  16. Keep Christmas artificial decorative items away from sources of heat and fire.
  17. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Try paying, instead and if you can, by check or credit card.
  18. Be open-minded and patient. Ignorance and impatience can often lead to something disastrous.
  19. Do not accept wrapped gifts from mysterious people. Chances are, if you’re accepting gifts from people you don’t know, it might be something else like a bomb, or one containing deadly chemicals and poisons. It’s better to be always safe than sorry, you know.
  20. Take time to pause and reflect all of the above.

Tips in teaching kids honor and appreciate the love behind every Christmas gift

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GIFT OF TIME. Nothing says I love you like a gift of time spent with your loved ones.

When it comes to exchanging of Christmas gifts, kids are too honest to express glee over a gift that they don’t like. Of course, it is expected for a child to exchange a gift for something they like better and there’s nothing wrong with it. For sure, most parents, if not all, will agree to the fact that one of their greatest pleasures is seeing the delight in their child’s face when he or she opens the gift they have selected especially for him or her.

In the deeper sense of it, gifts from parents to their children are not as important as the love behind them. Parents should not expect/must do something for their children to love every gift they receive, but for their children to appreciate and honor the love behind the gift. Here are tips in teaching kids honor and appreciate the love behind every Christmas gift they receive:

TEACH YOUR CHILD TO DISAGREE IN A POSITIVE WAY

When your child is expressing disfavor about a gift given to him by his grandma, for example, teach him to do it in a positive way. You may suggest to him about saying thank you to his grandma for the shoes, for example, and to say what he likes and dislikes about the shoes. Your child may say, for example, “Grandma thank you very much for the shoes. I really like the design and brand, but if you don’t mind, I think I’ll exchange it for a red color instead of the yellow one since red is my favorite color.”

LET THEM KNOW ABOUT THE VALUE OF THE GIFT ITSELF

Tell your children that you, or their grandma, for example, have put a lot of thought and time into picking out or making something you, or their grandma, thought they would especially like. Your kids may not like about the gift at first or that they want something better, but making them understand to receive gifts graciously and without unrealistic expectations, they will eventually learn to appreciate and honor the love behind every gift.