Ceremonial Parents

Parenting is not cool.

Dear Boys,

I noticed a new classification of parents.

Consistent with our ability to pay and outsource almost everything we do in life, many parents have found ways to outsource their roles as parents. Perhaps we humans, living in this era of busyness, are stretched a little too thin, wearing too many hats at one go, we have to forsake and get others to handle the ‘non-core’ functions in our lives.

Parenting is a very time consuming, life consuming role, with little material gratifications. Sometimes, parenting can clash with people’s self image, lifestyle. People want to look cool, being parents it is very hard to look good with a wailing child in your harness, it is very hard to look suave when you have to change diapers, in the hot sun, in the middle of a park. You cannot look Angelina Jolie-chic when you have to pin your kid down just to get them to take a sip of water. Parenting is not cool.

So a lot of parents, with cash to spare, little time to care, have their dirty jobs done by others. In Singapore, the main parenting workhorse is the ubiquitous domestic maid, typically hailing from countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar and other neighboring countries.

But that is not what I’m talking about.

To really qualify as a Ceremonial Parent, you have to make yourself scarce in your child’s life, turn up only at glam events, like your kid’s birthday bash, significant events, like when your kiddos need to attend other kiddos’ birthday bash. Well, ceremonial events.

Ceremonial Parents can pay for day to day duties to be handled by anyone else other than the parents themselves; domestic maids, the maternal Grands, the paternal Grands, childcare centers, the neighbor downstairs, the family pet dog, whoever and whatever has the time to do these mundane, unimportant stuffs.  The caretakers will pat the kiddos to sleep, feed them, medicate them when they are sick, cajole them when they are scared, clean them up when they are dirty. Well, the mundane stuffs.

While ceremonial, glamorous duties only occur like, every now and then, and the mundane duties taking up bulk of a kiddo’s life, already outsourced, doing so actually free up a lot of time for the Ceremonial Parents. Which is very effective time management!

What can Ceremonial Parents do with all these free time?

  • Look as if they are busy;
  • Focus on their job;
  • Make more money;
  • Socialise with their friends, drink party, be merry;
  • Live an image of a childless couple, and go home late after a party, wake up late after a party;
  • They are free to travel, for weeks on end, as a couple to exotic places, and experience ‘life’!

Ceremonial Parents are never tied down, never bothered by their kiddos sleep regime, diet regime, diaper regime, medical regime. When the Ceremonial Parents will return home from their crusades, they will come back bearing presents and bath their kiddos with gifts from faraway land, adorn them with apparatus bought home from their trip.

So why the gripe? Looks like a good life, win/win for all!

As a parent, there is no ‘non-core’ function, everything and every little time I can spare to spend with you makes me a father, upgrades my skills, trains me to be a better one, for you both. You boys taught me so much, everyday, to be a better human being than the one moments ago. While I lament not able to spend more time with you both, and it makes me wonder how Ceremonial Parents can spend so little time with their kiddos, and still qualifies them to be their kiddos’ parents.

And boys, just so you know, it is those ‘mundane’ times I spent with the both of you, that makes me qualifies to be your father, and no one else. Through the doldrums, I learned your character, idiosyncrasies, things you like, don’t like, have an opinion over or not. Through diaper changes, I see your butt grow. Feeding you, I know your diet. And call the both of you my sons.

I dare to call the shots for you because of all the times I’ve spent with you both, 24/7/365. Nobody can boss you both around the way I boss you both around, because I call you both my brood.

I cannot be there only for your good times, and absent for the bad.

Ceremonial Parenting don’t work for me, because it does not build trusts between me and you; it does not bond a biological relationship. Calling me ‘papa’ and me calling you both ‘sons’, are only words. There is a lot of work, time, and effort spent in action to make that bond, bond. I cannot be there only for your good times, and absent for the bad. Doing this while the both of you are young, under the impression that you both are too young to know anything, is telling myself a big parenting lie. What matters, is that my job as a father starts the moment you both are born, and does not end even when I’m long dead.

Ceremonial Parenting also sets a precedence, once you teach your kiddos that is how parenting works, they will learn to do that when they have kids. They will throw their kids back to the parents, now the grand parents, repeating the whole vicious process. It is detrimental, especially the kids, as they are left to be shuttled around, like cattle from one touch points to another. They will never have a chance to enjoy and experience the postive effects of being love, touch, embraced by their parent.  This is not how childhood is supposed to be.

There is no magic in parenting, being a father; it is hard work, action, and a lot of being present for the both of you, through good times and the bad.

I hope when you boys have your own brood, you both do not turn into Ceremonial Parents yourself, because children of Ceremonial Parents are worse than orphans, having parents and not having them there.

First published Dec 10, 2015 12:00 AM

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