Three men talk about what they appreciate most about being a dad, the people who support them, and the big f-word – their ‘feelings’ on their journey as fathers.
John Khoo is in his 30s; he and his wife Belinda have a 5-year old daughter, Constance.
As John reflects on things he appreciates as a dad, he recalls the time when his wife Belinda gave birth, “We didn’t want to have a confinement lady. We are not used to having strangers (in our home).”
Thus, when he looks back on the first months after Constance was born, it is with gratitude for the support given to them by his wife’s family. “My mum-in-law’s sister came to help us for the first two months. She took very good care of my daughter, and until today, she is still a playmate to Constance.”
John recalls a treasured memory, on a day he returned late from work. “My daughter came to me and after we settled down. She just gave me a peck on my cheek without me saying anything. That was a surprise booster… because I normally have to ask her ‘give papa a kiss’ but that was on her own.”
On other occasions when John was at the office, his daughter would call him up and ask him to return home, as she wanted to spend time with him.
“I was very attentive to Constance when she was younger. Now, I have less time with her because I have more responsibility (at work). So now, Belinda takes up the role of coaching and guiding Constance in her studies and enriching her life in every possible way.”
Melvyn Fones is married to Cynthia Goh; their daughters Olivia and Lauren are 10 and 11, respectively.
Befitting of a man who works in a private club, Melvyn makes fatherhood sound like one big party, “There have been so many hilarious moments in fatherhood -just too many for me to keep track. For instance, I remember my kids doing hip hop moves to the typical Hungry Ghost Getai* Cha Cha music and that really left me in stitches.”
He continues to recall comic moments, even when building sandcastles, which he says, “allows my kids and I to hang out together. Sometimes our sandcastles evolve into funny nude sculptures!”
Apart from the fun and revelry, Melvyn points out that his children show their affection to him, even though they are almost in their teen years. He knows that they will be growing in independence, but in his words, “I guess it’s what I do with them now that builds the relationship for the future.”
To Melvyn, the secret to having such great times with his family is his wife, “(She) has been instrumental in allowing me to be a good father to my children. She has chosen a career as a full-time mother as she knows my work hours are long and irregular.”
‘Team’ is something that Yong Wai Sing understands very well. His work in corporate training gives voice to a lot of his reflections on being a dad, but just as influential is his hobby – stand up comedy. Wai Sing is married to Stephanie Ho and they have two boys, Justin, 3, and Jason, 1.
When asked: “How does your wife help you as a dad?” Wai Sing replies, tongue in cheek, “That’s an easy one. She does everything.”
He continues, “It started from even before the kids were born; we decided that we would be a team no matter what. In whatever situations we faced, her commitment to (building) that team was there.”
Early on, Wai Sing realised that he was just a plaything to his children, because they depended so much on their mother for their needs right from infancy.
He says with gratefulness, “My wife did a great job realising that – and she always would say to the kids ‘Listen to Daddy.'” He also recognises that the kids will be closer to the mother by default, and, “The father must accept that, and instead of working against that, work as a team with the mother.”
Wai Sing deeply appreciates the contributions of many others in the raising of his kids. Grandparents are especially important as, according to Wai Sing, they provide “the kind of education that you (as a family) can give to your kid – the link to the past – rather than letting your children think only about themselves.”
Wai Sing also credits his son’s pre-school, especially how the Parent-Teacher meetings answer many of his questions about Justin. He explains, “The reality of it is that my kid sees them more than he sees me, and so I take their feedback very seriously, and I analyze his behavior in school and home – whether there is alignment and what strategies we need to think of, to help him.”
*Getai – a popular live stage performance held during the Hungry Ghost Festival throughout Singapore and other parts of Asia.
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 03-05-2012