Most dads have had one thing they always wanted to tell their children but never did, for a variety of reasons. Some dads never got the opportunity to do so because they lost contact with their children. Other dads may have felt unable to express themselves openly due to a family and/or societal culture of reticence.
This article interviews 10 fathers and asks them the following question: Tell us one thing you’ve always wanted to say to your kids but never did?
Most dads interviewed in this article acknowledged that it was a meaningful exercise to reflect on the one thing they always wanted to tell their children but never did. Furthermore, quite a number of the dads used the interview as an opportunity to verbalize their thoughts to their children. For these fathers, doing so enabled a cathartic release as well as fostered an important moment of emotional intimacy with their children. On their part, the children who had a chance to listen to their dads’ revelation expressed that it was an insightful learning experience for them.
If you as a dad always had that one burning thing that you have been holding inside, consider disclosing it to your children while you still have the opportunity. This little action might pleasantly surprise your children, and possibly lead to a breakthrough in the relationship, taking it to new levels of warmth, intimacy, openness and honesty.
Joseph Cheong, 66, Father of 2, Social service administrator
I love you guys with all my heart and just can’t imagine my life without you. If I could go back in time, I would have done things differently and been a better father.
Khaled El-Hilo, 46, Father of 3, Quality ops manager
I have always wanted to talk to them about life and death but cannot because of superstitions. I’m also not sure how they would take it.
James Chan, 68, Father of 2, Administrator
I love you.
Jonathan Goh, 44, Father of 2, Academician at a university
I guess the one thing I wish I could say to my boys but have not is letting them know the sacrifices I have made as a father. You see, I would like them to know but at the same time I do not wish to burden them with the need for ‘repayment’. I have always put my family first before my career. In fact, I am not ambitious and am just comfortable with what I have. This is because I believe that there is a price to pay for advancement in career, and I am not willing to pay that price. I think what would be more satisfying would be seeing my boys succeed in life. Also, I do not wish to be a burden to my family in every sense of the word. I guess I will keep them to myself.
Kandiah Kanagasingam, 72, Father of 3, Retired Teacher
I hope that you can find a faith/spirituality to anchor and guide you in life and help you get through challenging and darker moments. I did not tell this earlier as your mum and I had different religious backgrounds and both of us are non-practising these days. We did not feel that we could be role models in terms of religious beliefs. Also, we did not wish to impose any religious beliefs on you. We would rather you think independently and gradually find your own way in terms of a religious faith.
Silva Kandiah, 63, Father of 1, Writing Consultant
Be better than me! If I say so, it would be admitting that I could have done better and no father would say that to their kids. Yet, every dad would want their children to be better than them!
Chan Chun Wah, 59, Father of 3, Teacher
I wish to tell them that I love them but I have not done so. It’s too late as they are now adults and it’s not really the sort of thing you can say to your adult children.
Kwan Yew Weng, 61, Father of 3, Church Pastor
Something that I have never really said to my children would be that each of them is very special in their own way. Though they grew up together in the same family, they each have their own strengths and talents and I am very proud of all of them. I see a little of myself and my wife in each of them, but I am proud of how they have become their own person, with their own dreams and aspirations.
Tham Peng Kong, 72, Father of 1, Retired Teacher
I want to tell my children that education is not the only important thing in life and that they should also focus on other factors such as their spiritual growth.
Tay Peng Siang, 76, Father of 2, Retired Teacher
I wish to tell my children to find a religion. I regret not telling them this when they were younger.
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.