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movies, fatherhood, social justice, and everything in between
This post was originally published on a second blog I maintained for a brief time when I was a stay-at-home parent full-time. For archival purposes, I have copied it over with no edits.
Happy Father’s Day Week!
In honor of Father’s Day, the PhDadBlog is sharing a Dads Roundtable throughout the week.
Parenting is full of struggles. In the midst of all the stresses of dealing with challenges and behavioral issues, it’s easy to lose sight of all the victories and successes our kids express all the time.
If you missed the first few parts of the Dad Roundtable, please click on the following links to catch up:
Part 1: Meet the Dads!
Part 2: What We Wish We Knew
Part 3: Disciplining
Can you share a recent parenting victory?
CHASE: This isn’t recent, but it’s the first thing that jumped to mind. My oldest son is in Cub Scouts, and at the time our Pack met in a church. In the hall are various murals that depict events from the Bible, and there was one of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. One night he asked me “Where did the first people come from?” and I directed him to that story, and referenced the mural he had seen. After asking him “does that make sense to you?” he replied with an incredulous “NO!” That’s when we started talking about evolution, and I could tell he was making much more logical connections. I capped it off with showing him the first 15 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey to drive the point home a bit further. What made me so happy was that he was very quick to reject what amounted to a fairy tale in his mind, and demonstrated thought independent of what had been spoonfed to him by people he trusts. It gives me hope for his future. It also worries me about his destiny of rebellious youth.
MUNIB: I love that story, Chase! One thing I’ve always been impressed by in my 8-year-old – especially because of my media studies background – is how sensitive he is to some gender-related issues, especially in the media. As one example, the ubiquity of the damsel-in-distress trope in video games and movies has basically become a running joke between him and me. Whenever we’re talking about a new video game or movie, he’ll often stop me and say, “And let me guess, you have to save a girl?” I’ll say “Yup.” And he’ll go, “Come on! Why do they always do that?!” Or when we were talking about soccer, I mentioned how Brazil had the most World Cup wins, after which he stopped me and said, “You mean the MEN’s World Cup, right?” He’s also really aware of how companies use colors like blue and pink to specifically try and market to boys and girls. And he’s tired of it. And I can’t be any happier about it.
VAHID SMITH: I’m a little sad to say that I had a lot of trouble figuring out this question. Because I have 5 kids it seems difficult to pin down one thing that I am proud about. I think it’s important to point out specific positive behaviors that my children accomplish on a daily basis. In fact I try to point out more specific positive behaviors so that when the time comes, I can also point out behaviors that I feel are inappropriate. I have some great kids and like all kids, they are works in progress. So my biggest parenting victory has been when I can actually stop and enjoy all 5 of my kids at the same time. When I can observe all my kids playing, interacting and being joyful with each other it fills me with a pretty great feeling.
Can you share a recent or recurring parenting struggle and how you’re trying to deal with it?
VAHID SMITH: Patience! My ultimate goal is to be calm and assertive (like the dog whisperer) with my children at ALL times. Unfortunately from time to time I lose it. My patience that is. Usually it is because I am very tired and all 5 of my kids are bombarding me with wants, needs and some kind of altercation between 2 or more children. My primary way of dealing with this is trying to get more sleep. This has proven to be difficult as all I want to do when I get home at 9 pm is stay awake and catch up on any “fun” that is to be had. My second way of dealing with this is caffeine. I feel a little bit like a druggy resorting to coffee, espresso and sometimes energy drinks. I do feel like the ends justify the means though so I can have positive and meaningful time with my children without “losing it!” I am open to other suggestions.
MUNIB: I just want to pretty much “ditto” everything Vahid just said above. Except for the 5 kids part. Or the caffeine! I think I can safely say being patient is my biggest and most recurrent struggle. Along with that, I’d also add joy. I feel like so much of my day is spent just getting myself and the kids through all the things that we “need” to do for the day that I forget the importance of being joyful with them. It always feels like I have “just one more thing” to finish first – whether that’s washing the dishes, making a meal, vacuuming, whatever – before I can just sit and play with them. And by the time that time comes, it’s practically bed time, and I want to get them into bed because, like Vahid said, I’m wanting to catch up on MY fun stuff. I think the worst part – and simultaneously most encouraging part – is that whenever I consciously set out to be patient in whatever comes my way for the day, I IMMEDIATELY see a big difference in not only my overall joy, happiness, and calm, but also my sons’.
VAHID N’DOBE: Vahid Smith, I only have two kids and I’m mostly overwhelmed, so I can imagine. If I haven’t had enough sleep, my patience is usually very low and it’s hard to fully enjoy the fun. Getting quality sleep has been a major challenge for my wife and I because our two kids don’t want to sleep in their room, they still wake up in the middle of the night and move into our room to share our bed with us …which means we’re sleeping at the edge of the bed every night :-)…they’re literally kicking us off the bed. I guess if I could figure out a way to get quality sleep, I will be able to do a lot better with the patience aspect. I’m still working on it
Come back tomorrow to read some of the dads’ thoughts on how parenting affects their relationship with their partner in Part 5 of the Roundtable!
Born in Belgium. Raised in Brazil. Cultured in China. Corrupted in America.