Being Papa

I dislike the portrayal of fathers “working like cows, horses and no one appreciates them”, so they deserve an OSIM massage chair on Father’s Day, says the TV advertisement. I was also motivated to write this piece after reading The Last Lecture (Lessons in Living) by Randy Pausch. Like the author, I am too a father to my daughter. To put in context, my daughter had just completed her four-year degree programme recently.

Growing up years

Art Education

Both my wife and I believe in giving our daughter an education that will see her through life. We wanted her to pursue what she interested in. She went to art classes before starting primary school and that interest carried on into secondary school and JC in the form of Art Elective programme. She did her degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts at NTU despite other choices. In 2009 together with her mother, they launched Momshoo label where she is the chief designer of many hand-made whimsical creations.

Interest in reading

As a family, we like books and still are today. We brought our daughter to Borders Singapore when Borders opened its first store in 1997. All three of us would reach Borders, Wheelock Place at 9 am on Sundays (all other shops opened after 10 am) to browse for books and buy some. We are not stingy on books. We continue to buy books. Just this morning, I bought two books for my daughter at Kinokuniya on their first day of Summer Sale.

Be there for her in education

From PSLE, to “O” level, A Level and Undergraduate programme, we support her in education. It could simply be with her to give moral support and make stressful student life a bit more comfortable for her. We would offer ideas and help on subjects if we were competent. She refused external tuition which was a good thing. Most time, she was coping on her own, especially in later years. We took just sufficient interest in her school lives, like meeting her teachers, and making time to attend on invitations to school events.

Multi-hat roles

I wore multiple hats in the family. I am the Bookkeeper, Investment Advisor, Transport Officer besides being a parent.

When my daughter was in secondary school, I drove her to school every morning. I am the one who drives in the family and I would be happy to drive her around when the need arises, which was not too often. During these car journeys, we bonded together.

I do bookkeeping work for Momshoo and as Investment Advisor I helped to set up an equity portfolio for my daughter using her own savings. I monitor her portfolio and she is exposed to on-line trading platform.

Inculcating values

As parents, we want to inculcate right values to our daughter. Some values include being morally upright (honesty is one major one), having socially acceptable behaviour (e.g. keeping foodcourt table clean while eating), independent, and have a heart for people and animals. She volunteers at Bright Vision Hospital and cares our house rabbit (Brownie) in our home. At the end of the day, she will have to be on her own and hopefully, we have prepared her for the outside world, career work or otherwise.

Giving space

We believe in giving space for our daughter to lead her own life. Give her enough guidance and then get out of her way. This can strengthen her sense of independence and control. It is easier said than done but it must be so.

What makes me happy

I do not need a special day to celebrate being a father. I feel happiest just to be with my daughter and my wife. A simple meal together at coffee shop is good enough. If we can travel together on a holiday, that will be a big bonus. My wife and daughter were good at planning itinerary and I just relaxed on these trips.

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