Viktor Khoma is the Operation Supervisor at Rockin’ Baby in Richmond, VA, one of our favorite babywearing companies. Originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan, Viktor lives in Richmond with his American wife Grace and his 8-month-old daughter Jolie. We asked Viktor to tell us a little about his life as a new dad, and what it was like celebrating Fathers Day for the first time, a day not observed in Kazakhstan.
Were you excited when you learned you were going to be a dad?
I always wanted to be a young dad so that my child and I could share common interests and a common understanding of relationships, music, and current styles of clothing. I want to understand what my child likes. But when my wife, Grace, became pregnant, my first feeling was fear. In that moment I realized the responsibility that I would take on for the rest of my life.
Tell us a little bit about Grace’s pregnancy and your transition to fatherhood? How did you prepare?
During her pregnancy, my wife changed exactly how most pregnant women do: She spent a lot of time worrying, searching the internet, and finding a thousand suggestions on how to have the perfect pregnancy, birth, and child. What did I do? I didn’t prepare as much as Grace did. Not because I was irresponsible, but I knew that I couldn’t be prepared for something like this.
What was it like when you first saw Jolie?
After a long and difficult labor, the first thing I felt was relief that we did it, then thankful that she was healthy [and] beautiful. She looked just like me.
Do you find that your values and parenting decisions differ from those of American fathers? How do you and Grace handle differences in parenting that are possible the result of having different cultural backgrounds?
I can’t judge the values of fathers in America. For myself and Grace, even though we are from different cultures and world views, we value Christian principles in our family and invest these in her life so that she will grow up to be someone who loves others, appreciates life and what is in her heart. When it comes to parenting, we have different views ,but we try to talk to each other and make decisions together that are right for our daughter.
How do you and Grace plan to teach Jolie about both your nations, Kazakhstan and America, and their cultures?
Of course our daughter will never be able to understand the life I had in Kazakhstan, but the cultural habits are in her blood. Our plan is to speak Russian at home so that she can know two languages from the start. Through that I can surround her with the peculiarities of my culture.
What’s your favorite thing about being a dad so far?
I have two favorite things: When Jolie wakes up around midnight and stands in her crib (usually saying “ ma- ma- ma”), waiting and knowing that one of us will come get her; and when I come home from work, walk through the doorway and see a little miracle crawling straight towards me.
Did you enjoy your first Fathers Day this year? I know it’s not a holiday you’ve celebrated before.
In Kazakhstan we don’t celebrate Father’s Day. I’m not sure there needs to be a day to show that we love and value our loved ones. My first Father’s day was unusual, but it was nice to be congratulated by my two favorite ladies, and know that they love and appreciate what I do for them.
What advice would you give to parents like you who are part of multicultural families?
Never try to prove that your cultural values are better or more important than those of your spouse. Marriage is first about understanding and supporting each other. Therefore you must talk through every decision, respect, love and have patience for each other.