“What My Mom Taught Me About Being a Good Father"
Dealing with the everyday stresses of parenthood isn’t easy. Just ask Enrique Sacasa, a user-experience designer at The Bump and the proud father of two boys—Joaquin, 4, and Benicio, 4 months. Thankfully, when he needs support and guidance, he knows he can turn to his mother, Nazira. “Whenever I’ve needed advice, even when the subject was slightly uncomfortable, I’ve always felt that I could approach her,” Enrique says. “She’s always available and honest.” Here he shares some of her best parenting advice.
(Try to) keep anxiety at bay “For the first year and a half after Joaquin was born, I felt like a deer in the headlights. I would look something up on the internet, get freaked out and then call my mom. She would do a great job of talking me through my worries and helping me get a clearer perspective. She would also follow up with a call or a text within a few days to make sure the baby was ok and that I was ok too. I remember one time I discovered a smear of blood in Joaquin’s diaper while my wife was working and I was home with Benicio. I looked online and while there were plenty of non-emergency explanations for what it could be, of course, I gravitated to the most severe ones. I called the pediatrician and they explained that it wasn’t worrisome if the baby was otherwise acting fine. But it wasn’t until I spoke with my mom and she said she remembered my sister and I having little blood streaks in our stool that I felt better. Speaking to her gave me that final reassurance.”
Patience is a major virtue “My mother is the most caring, calm and patient person I know. Adding a second child to the family has been great but it’s taken some adjustment. With more things to do and less time to do them, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to become impatient and testy. I’ve been working hard to channel my mom’s patience and calm demeanor, especially towards Joaquin. He’s at an age that requires more attention and disciplining. Since the new baby got home, my wife and I have had less time for him and he started testing and defying us a little more. When I thought about how to deal with his behavior I reflected on my relationship with my mother. I asked myself: ‘What do you want your relationship with Joaquin to be like in 5 or 10 years?’ That changed my perspective immediately and I found myself being more patient, remaining calm and turning those difficult moments into teaching opportunities.”
Discipline smartly “As a kid, I always thought that I got away with some things, or the punishment was not as severe as I expected. Recently, I had a conversation with my mom and she said they knew everything that I was up to, but chose to let some things go so I could discover consequences on my own. After reflecting on that, I was able to implement some smart strategies with Joaquin and improve his behavior. For example, a few months ago, I decided to phase out time-outs with him. While I’m sure there will be moments when he will need strong discipline, I try to keep things light. I realized that the majority of times I was disciplining him, he was behaving in an age-appropriate manner—he was either tired, hungry or just couldn’t cope emotionally. My goal is to exhibit boundless patience with him and to show him that he has choices when it comes to his behavior.”
Keep the future in mind “I’ve realized that being a good parent involves taking care of your child’s immediate needs while also building a good relationship for the future. I want to make sure I have a rock solid relationship with my kids during the time—the middle school and high school years—that a lot of kids go astray from their families. When I was an adolescent we had our points of conflict, but my mom was pretty tuned into me during those years and I think that’s why we have such a solid relationship now. She’s still very good at helping me reflect on my emotions and decisions.”