Father's Day Special: Interview with 3 Sunseap Dads
By Natalie ThamJune 19, 2020
Father's Day is just around the corner. For those of us who have been blessed with loving and present fathers, the occasion is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the special man in our lives.
Be it the tangible sacrifices, big and small, that they continue to make for the family, or their demonstration of good character, where we first learnt good values that we later grew to adopt, our fathers have played an essential role in our lives.
Yet, as important as fathers are, their experiences of parenthood are often left out of the spotlight. Today, we honor Dads by sharing the stories of 3 of our colleagues who had just recently become fathers.
We spoke to Aloysius and Yi Chao, whose children (daughter and son respectively) are both one-and-a-half years old, and Zhong Hao, whose daughter is 16 months old.
Did you plan to have kids?
Aloysius: Yes, I think that kids are a part of life's package. They bring joy to the family too.
YC: Before I got married, I did have a discussion with my wife and we planned to have children before her 30s. She was concerned that having kids after her 30s will be very difficult - not sure if this is just her conspiracy haha. Our plan is to have 2 kids!
YC pictured with his son
While both Aloysius and YC had planned to have children, ZH did not.
ZH: I actually did not want to have children. Our world today is facing many issues, such as those of the environment, geopolitics, the economy. It's highly likely that future generations will face more challenges than us. Things are even worse now with the current pandemic. We also live in a time where digitalization is accelerating, and while technology has its benefits, such as increasing productivity, I worried that frequent use of technology would affect the mental health of my children.
How would you describe your experience of being a parent so far?
Aloysius: My experience has been really great so far. My child just enrolled into preschool, so it's a big milestone for her. Most people don't want to have kids because they have heard and seen horrible experiences from each stage of a child's life, but these things shouldn't drive you away. I'm pretty sure your parent(s) saw you through each stage of your life too. There are down times for sure, but everyone has their own battles to struggle with.
Aloysius pictured with his wife and daughter
YC: I've realised that I have to be on standby mode always! It's similar to my army life during guard duty, where I had to be on standby 24/7 for turn out. There are some challenges, for instance, when I need to travel overseas for work and can't be around to take care of my kid. I'm still in the process of learning to be a better dad and there are many things I have yet to pick up.
ZH: It turned out to be more challenging than I thought. The joy really comes from witnessing my daughter's growth. Her first words. Her first crawl...
Before becoming a father, what did you think fatherhood would be like?
Interestingly, all three interviewees had differing impressions of fatherhood.
Aloysius: Actually, I didn't know what it was like to be a father. I could only take reference from my father and other fatherly figures around, from there I guess I formed different ideas of what fatherhood is like. As we guide, teach and care for the child, they also teach us in a way.
YC: I thought that it would be very easy to handle a child, where you can just play with him. But he is much more active than we thought! There are multiple stages of fatherhood though, so I tell myself to be prepared for other challenges that may come and just overcome them.
ZH: I was prepared that it would be challenging.
Have you had to make sacrifices? (E.g. Sleep)
Aloysius: I think I have it easy. My wife sacrifices more than I do. We do need to prioritize the child's needs and wants first before our own. Things are way different when you don't have a child and when you do. You can't do the things you want to do as freely as you want to anymore.
ZH: Thanks to the support of my wife and in-laws, I did not make big sacrifices. Commitment is important.
YC: Oh definitely a big YES. Ever since my child was born, I have not had a full night's sleep. This is what I did not expect before I became a father. I can't meet my friends as often too. After his birth, my schedule has been thrown in a loop: Work → Take care of my child → Work
YC pictured with his wife and son
Are there any character qualities or values you hope for your children to have? What are they?
Aloysius: Many... Honesty, kindness, humility, perseverance, being able to look at things from different angles, expecting the worst but hoping for the best, being able to take criticism, being happy, but not deriving happiness from others, materials, cheap thrills. But to be honest, expecting too much may not be the best for them. They are children and don't come with values, they learn values, and at times we teach them.
YC: Responsibility and honesty are the two basic values I will teach him first. I hope that my child will be responsible in whatever he does, and that this value will eventually inculcate leadership qualities in him. Honesty is the foundation of trust, and I want for him to build strong relationships with future friends and colleagues. There are many more values I want my child to learn, and of course as fathers we have the main role to slowly guide them.
ZH: I think being well-balanced and having exposure to various things is important. Just like what doctors say, eat everything in moderation. I had this idea of sending my kid to an international school but affordability is an issue though.
Any advice to those who are about to become or planning to be fathers?
ZH: Congratulations! If you think army was tough, you are in for a surprise. Enjoy every moment and appreciate the simple things in life. Getting support from family members is important.
YC: The most important tip for fathers-to-be: You must have at least 1 to 2 family members ready to take care of your child. Prepare to spend a lot money, which means you have to work even harder to earn milk powder money haha. If you are an outgoing person, you can jolly well forget about your social life, as you will be spending most of your time with your child. Do not have a child if your work requires you travel frequently. Otherwise, you will regret not being able to spend time with your child at his infant stage. I have a lot more advice to give, if I continue, I'll have to publish a book!
Aloysius: The earlier you have kids, the better. I'm not a doctor but you will have to be prepared for a higher risk of complications if you are having children later in life. It's also easier to keep up with them when you have them young.
Having kids is a joy. There are some down times for sure, but I can't speak for everyone. It's really up to each couple.
Do not have a child if you are not prepared to have one. A child is not something you can return to the store or throw away when you don't want them.
Do plan your finances because having a child in Singapore is not cheap. Money problems end badly for many couples and families. Be prepared to change your lifestyle and expenses, prepare well for the child: baby cot, diapers, milk bottles, etc.
In my opinion, you only truly understand your parents when you become a parent yourself. While you would question them in your younger days, after becoming a parent, you begin to understand why your parents do certain things, and make the sacrifices they make. Because of that, you will learn to appreciate your parents more, and bring this knowledge and appreciation forward to your children and those around you.
Aloysius and his family
We thank our colleagues for their sincere and honest sharing.
We hope this article has shed some light on fatherhood, and especially the challenges that fathers face. Reflecting on our colleagues' experiences, being a father is definitely not an easy task, as the role requires one to have sheer grit, strength and commitment.
Many of us tend to overlook the sacrifices our fathers make. Sometimes, even as we internally acknowledge such sacrifices, we forget to show our appreciation and make him feel validated for his efforts. If you are guilty of taking your dad for granted at times, do consider taking this Father's Day as an opportunity to reciprocate his love and reconnect with him. As life is so unpredictable, you never know when it will be the last chance for you to do so.