Tag Archives: Fathering

2 Funerals and a Darn Good Movie: Reflections of a Regular Dad

In many ways, this is not the kind of December I’m used to – my wife and I just returned from a funeral, our second this ‘festive’ month. It was a child’s funeral – a 14 month-old baby girl, who died suddenly in her sleep, leaving behind two very distraught parents.

The first funeral was held in honour of our dear friend’s father who suffered a stroke from a medical complication and within a week, passed on. The funeral, although somber, had a mood akin to that of an alumni gathering where friends gathered and shared the life stories of the dearly departed. My friend and his family were blessed with so many anecdotes of his father from all who came. For the grieving family, these meaningful recounts concretized the great legacy he has left behind.

TheSims-BWI turn 44 next year, and if all goes well, I hope to outlive my own father who passed away at 44 due to cancer. As a young teenager who lost his Dad prematurely, I strive daily to be the best husband, the best Daddy and the best employee – very tall order for just a regular bloke. Even tougher as my wife and I are standing at some major crossroads in our lives – having just adopted a newborn son in June this year; our daughter entering Primary One in Jan 2015 and both of us having increased responsibilities at work. These add to the stresses of life and we all know stress does not augment well for one’s health.

The second funeral – the death of the baby girl was more tragic. Children and caskets should never be in the same frame, ever. Having been through child bereavement (a path less travelled), we knew how important it is to have someone there to offer condolence and support. And we did. We met up twice with this well-mannered young Christian couple who had to bear the tragic loss of their beautiful 14 month-old girl.

Children are a blessing; they are precious and entrusted by God for us to love, for a season. Children are not a ‘status symbol’ nor should they be part of our ‘marriage life’ that can be conveniently ‘taken out’ and put back when it suits our convenience.

In Singapore, it is easy to confuse being a busy parent with being an engaged, effective parent. Enrichment classes, camps, parties, performances are all legitimate pursuits but do not be fooled into thinking that we are engaging our children. I’m very much guilty of that.

In this regard, there were moments, too frequent to even recall that I have failed as a Dad. Too busy or tired from work to answer my curious 6 year-old’s questions, and getting easily impatient with the crying newborn. It is tempting to let my daughter do her own thing since she is now more independent. It is tempting to let someone else care for the newborn after a hectic workday. But each moment I don’t engage my children is a moment lost forever. We only have so much time to make precious connections with the precious children God has entrusted to us. Every moment spent with them are opportunities to forge memories that matter. Quoting the movie ‘Interstellar’, “We are here… to be the memories for our kids.” But first, to be in their memories, we need to be present.

I hope to engage my children and my wife more. Anything… to just enjoy their presence and engage them intentionally. For without engagement, there can’t be a relationship. And without it, it would be tough to be an effective parent in this modern, messed-up world.

‘We’re all travelling through time, together, everyday of our lives… All we can do is do is our best to relish this remarkable life.’ – About Time

‘About Time’ stars award-winning actor Bill Nighy and is a fictitious story about a father and son who have the ability to travel through time. Due to the biological randomness of conception, to go back in time and return again would mean the son having a different baby each time he returns. The challenge arrives when the father is dying of cancer and the son is about to welcome his newborn. They have to choose a moment where they would relish it for one last time. The moment they picked was when the son was much younger, playing at the beach with his Dad – a simple moment where a powerful connection was made – just a tender moment between father and son.

I wonder what moments my children and wife would pick to remember me by. I hope for those to be positive moments – simple, meaningful and yet powerful enough to make that all-so-important connection which stand the tests of time. One that leaves many good stories for them to tell and one that sums up a good legacy I’ve left behind.

This is my hope as I continue my journey into 2015 and beyond.

This guest post is an extract with permission of David Sim. Together with his wife Angie, they blog at Life’s Tiny Miracles. To read the original post, please click here.

Recognizing and Celebrating Each Child

October saw different ones sharing ways to love your children; to round up the series, I’ve been asked to share the principle Cheryl and I live by when it comes to loving our daughters and parenting in general:

Recognizing and celebrating each child’s uniqueness.

We believe that children are a gift from God, and recognize that each child is different. Therefore we purpose to appreciate, enjoy, and celebrate each child’s differences… and I would encourage you to do the same too.

How to recognize your child’s uniqueness (or differences) 
As you spend time with your children, communicating and observing them – you’ll be able to see the differences between them. Once we recognize that each child is unique, it’ll lead to us wanting to treat each child differently.

As a case in point, both my eldest and youngest daughter share the same primary love language (Words of Affirmation). Yet when it comes to displaying the language, what we say differs; I look for different traits and characteristics to praise.

My eldest daughter is hard worker, and has achieved many things, so Cheryl and I affirm her for her effort, and for living to her fullest potential. As for my youngest daughter, she is enthusiastic, and loves helping people, so we encourage and affirm her positive attitude. We celebrate her love and compassionate heart for others, and appreciate her for helping those around her.

We tell our daughters that their uniqueness is a gift, and we make it a point to celebrate their uniqueness and individuality.

Why celebrate each child’s uniqueness?
Some of my friends feel that if you have two children, where one is book smart and the other not so, you try to make the one who is not as book-smart less discouraged by not celebrating the result. In my view, it’s better to recognize each of their strong points rather than downplaying it.

This goes back to the first point where each child is different. Perhaps your child who is not as book-smart may be gifted in sports. Or perhaps your child enjoys baking, or writing new music. I am certain that there will certainly be an area for you to celebrate and take delight in, regardless of what it is.

For example, my younger daughter enjoys sports, and when she does well, we bring the whole family out to celebrate. One is better at arts, another is better in studying … I tell each of my daughters that it’s okay to excel in different areas, and we celebrate them all.

In essence, it’s about celebrating each child, not toning down celebrations for one. As you affirm and appreciate their differences, you’ll see them blossom and grow in confidence and stature.

A family that celebrates together stays together
When we celebrate one of my daughters, we do so as a family. Recently when one of my daughters came in 19th at a national sports meet, we had a nice dinner at home and commemorated the occasion with a cake. To us, it’s not about having a lavish celebration, but rather, a simple and meaningful affair.

That said, celebrations need not be confined to achievements; it should also be about the person and character. For example, if your child spends time volunteering at orphanage to read stories to the children you can celebrate and praise his/her compassionate nature.

In due course we noticed that it helped to tamper down the need for comparison and actually strengthened the sisterly bond between them. They are able to rejoice together with their sisters wholeheartedly and are proud of them.

As for Cheryl and I, we are proud of the young ladies our daughters are becoming, and would not have wanted it any other way.

Editor’s note: This post concludes our Loving our Children series. You can view the other posts in the series here. For inspiration on effective ways to love your children, visit our website and/or download a free activity pack!

Today’s post comes courtesy of Andy Sim, an IT professional by training. He is happily married and has 4 daughters.

Fathers Deserve More Recognition

It’s commonly observed that Father’s Day celebrations tend to be quieter and simpler than for Mother’s Day. At times, fathers are even thought of as being helpful, but not critically necessary.

On the contrary, fathers should be given more recognition, at least for the following reasons:

  • The cost of father absence to the community is estimated to be over AUD$12 billion per year in Australia, while the U.S. government spent at least US$99.8 billion providing assistance to father-absent families in 2006.
  • Close to 90 studies published in the last decade highlight the importance of father involvement, based on the 2013 review by The Fathering Project at the University of Western Australia.
  • In a review of 36 studies from around the world (beyond the Western context), it has been concluded that a father’s love is at least as important, if not more, to youngsters as their mother’s.

Taken together, recent research about fatherhood has provided new insights about the critical and distinctive roles played by fathers, and the significant long-term impact they have on the social, cognitive, emotional and physical well-being of children.

Research suggests that fathers’ impact on kids’ behaviour begins as early as infancy. Mothers tend to keep their babies calm, gazing at them, babbling together and affectionately touching them. Fathers tend to get the babies more excited and laughing, often playing physical games that arouse or startle them. Fathers contribute most to providing play exploration which helps to develop emotional and behavioural self-regulation, while mothers tend to be the providers of comfort in times of distress.

Father involvement has been linked to fewer behavioural problems among school-age children, less delinquency among teenage boys and fewer psychological problems in young women.

Fathers play an integral role in children’s socialization. The time that teenagers spent with fathers in the presence of others was linked to increased social competence; the same effect was not observed with mothers. Paternal support tends to be associated with social competence in the school setting while maternal support is associated with academic competence.

Fathers also make unique contributions to teen development. From measures of 60 potential links between parental factors and teen outcomes in a longitudinal study, 20% were unique to fathers. Fathers’ influence on alcohol and illicit drug use in youths may be stronger than that of mothers. Father absence is a critical contributor to adolescent sexual risk behaviour in both sons and daughters. A study of Thai youth found that youth who have a close relationship with their father are less likely to initiate premarital sex during adolescence.

In summary, there is compelling evidence that fathers are irreplaceable and their distinctive parenting style complements mothers in significant ways for the healthy development of children.

What fathers do with their children on a day-to-day basis makes a great difference not only to their children, but also to society and for the generations to follow. This Father’s Day, let’s make special effort to affirm and honour fathers among our midst!

References:

Dads for Life. (n.d.) Where Do Fathers Stand in Shaping Healthy Teen Sexuality. Retrieved from http://pruitttad461.typepad.com/blog/2012/02/where-do-fathers-stand-in-shaping-healthy-teen-sexuality.html

Macrae, F. (2012, 13 June). How Absence of a Loving Father Can Wreck a Child’s Life: New Study Shows Relationship with Both Parents Is Crucial. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2158671/Love-father-contributes-childs-development-mother-study-claims.html

Mitchell, P.J., (2013, August 21). The Unique Benefits of Fatherhood. [A review of Gender and Parenthood: Biological and Social Perspectives] eReview Vol. 13, No. 16.  Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. Retrieved from http://www.imfcanada.org/issues/unique-benefits-fatherhood

Nock, S.L. & Einolf, C.J. (2008). The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man: The Annual Public Costs of Father Absence. National Fatherhood Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.ct.gov/dcf/lib/dcf/fatherhood/pdf/fatherabsencecost.pdf

Shellenbarger, S.(2011, June 14). The Secret of Dads’ Success: How Fathers’ Teasing, Tickling, Wrestling Teach Kids to Whine Less and Be More Independent. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved fromhttp://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304665904576383464255980534?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702304665904576383464255980534.html

The Fathering Project (n.d.). About the Fathering Project. Retrieved from http://thefatheringproject.org/about-the-fathering-project

Wood, L. & Lambin, E. (2013). How Fathers and Father Figures Can Shape Child Health and Wellbeing. The University of Western Australia. Retrieved fromhttp://thefatheringproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/How-fathers-and-father-figures-can-shape-child-health-and-wellbeing-Wood-Lambin-UWA-2013.pdf

The Legacy of a Man of Honor and Courage

20 April 2004 – a Tuesday like any other day for most, if not all, Singaporeans. But that Tuesday did not end like any other day.

Construction was going on at the Kallang stretch of the Circle Line but at about 3.30pm, several supporting structures holding up a stretch of the underground tunnel began to collapse. The surface above started to cave in, bringing tons of soil and whatever that was on it, into the hole.

Thankfully, most of the workers were having their tea break and out of the tunnel at that time. However, there was a team of 8 foreign workers who were working deep in the hole. If not for their foreman, they would all have perished.

According to eyewitnesses’ accounts, Mr Heng Yeow Peow, affectionately known as “Ah Heng” to his colleagues, risked his life as he rushed to where his team of workers were and hurried them out to safety. By his heroic and selfless action, those 8 men were spared death that day.

Heng did not make it out of that tunnel. He was trapped as the tunnel collapsed. He never saw another dawn, or the faces of his beloved wife, Sally and his two children. Neither was his body recovered despite 4 days of rescue efforts.

According to a Channel News Asia documentary, “The Spirit of Singapore”, which was first aired last year, those 8 colleagues who lived to tell their stories described “Ah Heng” as a selfless man of courage, who put their lives before his own. Finally after 7 years and with tears in their eyes, they laid a memorial stone over a grass patch where they thought Heng was buried.

Heng’s wife and children remember him as a brave man who sacrificed himself for others. They testify that he was a dutiful man, a loving husband and a doting father who had always taken care of the family, loved them and protected them. He died the way as he had lived. He left a legacy of honor and courage for his loved ones.

This hero of the Heng family inspires me!

I too want to leave a legacy of honor and courage for my children. While many things in life are uncertain, death is not. My short journey on earth gives me little time to waste – what will matter to my wife, my children, and my friends are not the many material things that I can give to them, but the amount of time I spend to sow love into their lives.

The thought is easy but the journey is full of challenges. The demands of life are plenty and they compete for the time that I have. These demands all seem to be legitimate and necessary.  That is why I need the courage to make a choice. I choose to do my best to be

  • An honorable husband, always leading, loving, giving due respect to my wife and honoring our marriage bed and the vow that I made to her on our wedding day.
  • A courageous husband, always protecting my wife from all harm, to correct her when she is wrong, and to accept corrections when I am wrong.
  • An honorable father, always being there for each of my children as they go through pains in life, to love them even when no other would and to take all the responsibilities of fatherhood.
  • A courageous father, standing up to immoral and unrighteous values that tempt my children and showing them the right way by personal example.

This is the legacy I will leave for my loved ones.

This week’s guest writer is Steven Chan. Joyfully married to his wife Michelle for more than 30 years, he is blessed with two daughters and a son and gifted with a son-in-law.

Authored a book, Eight Keys to Family Power and writes weekly on two blogs: Great Lovers Make a Great Marriage http://begreatlovers.blogspot.com and Blessed to Bless Others http://stevenptl.blogpsot.com

Can I Have My Hand Back?

I am a Dad to a girl and a boy – a pair of teenage twins actually, who will turn 15 soon. With Fathers Day coming up, it’s appropriate to share a reflection on being a Dad.

The context of this Dad story began three years ago. That was when my wife and I began what was to be a permanent relocation exercise which started the biggest transition ever in our lives. Coincidentally perhaps, my wife and I were approaching mid-life and our twins were approaching adolescence.

About the same time a major crisis struck the (broader) organization where my wife and I worked. This sparked off a chain of events that snowballed as the situation deteriorated rapidly, causing delay upon delay to our relocation timeline. My wife and I were roped in to help in damage control while uncertainty got added to the future plans of a family already in a major tailspin.

We were caught up in a whirlpool on no-man’s land as we grappled with life transitions and two career switches. Our family felt lost and each one of us also felt the full impact of the resulting emotional tsunami that descended upon us.

The strains on our relationships showed – I took turns to bicker either with my son, my daughter or my wife. Yes, another transition that I struggled with was the switch from parenting two kids to parenting two teenagers. My wife had been intentionally preparing for this change and she is fine in this department.

I saw the many ways a crisis can play out. It destabilises and even destroys. I have also seen how it can draw a family closer. Our family went through many tense moments. But we also had more heart-to-heart talks. We have actually grown closer.

Three years have now passed and I have changed. This protracted transition was actually an opportunity for me to grow as a Dad.

Today, I am even more convinced that there are Dads for a reason. We have very distinct responsibilities. We help the family walk through difficult times.

Throughout this season, my greatest desire as a Dad is to have a loving father’s heart towards my kids – despite lapses in my expectations of them or good advice that often goes unheeded.

I’ve also discovered that I’ve got a big responsibility as a life-guide to my kids. It is most rewarding when they can grow up valuing relationships, being responsible and communicating honestly.  Fatherhood and paternal involvement are integral to healthy children and a thriving society.

Dads make mistakes and I mess up, too often myself. I struggle to be a great Dad but I am doing the best I can because I love my kids! No matter how much pressure I feel, I want to be there for our twins.

One dad memory that I shall always take with me was my son telling me that we should not hug in public any more. That was hard.

Another happened when I was walking our twins to school. My daughter let go of my hand as we approached the school gate. At the point of release, I fell into a state of disbelief. Fatherly grief followed suit.

A third memory was when my daughter said: “Dad, can I have my hand back?” To which I asked: “But I’ve been holding your hand for over 10 years … and you want it back?”

It seems like Father’s Day is more of a day of practical gift giving. But it doesn’t always have to be this way. This Father’s Day, I will be spending time with my Dad and I will tell him that he did a good job. You can too.

Happy Father’s Day!

Ben KC Lee

First a Dad, then a Friend

 I am an IT Director of an MNC, but I almost didn’t go to university!

As my family gathered during Christmas to celebrate my parents’ 80th birthdays, I suddenly realized how close I was to having quite a different life, had my dad not persevered on my behalf.

Like many teenagers, I was too lazy and didn’t care much about what really mattered. I was more interested in “fun” things and living in the moment. University and future plans were the last things on my mind.

My father, though disappointed in my behaviour, was persistent and never gave up on me. In spite of my rebellious attitude, laziness and foolishness, he never uttered any condemning words such as “You are such a failure!” or “Why can’t you be more like your cousin?” or “You’re going to end up a useless bum!”

I think I may have given up on such a son, but I’m sure glad my dad didn’t give up on his. He didn’t allow my seemingly hopeless situation to define me. He saw a brighter future and did everything he could to push me over the hump.

I wonder how my life would have turned out if my dad DIDN’T pull me through during those foolish teenage years.

During our Christmas vacation, my second son found out that the notorious neighbourhood bully he once feared is now serving a 34-year sentence in jail.

When John the bully was about 10 years old, he would often show up at the playground near our house and terrorize all the kids. On one occasion, John came to the playground with a knife and threatened my daughter. I went over to his house to talk to his dad about the incident. Instead of disciplining his son, his dad defended John’s actions. On another occasion, John was caught reading an adult magazine in class. When notified by the school principal, his dad just shrugged it off as “no big deal”.

I wonder how John’s life would have turned out if his dad DID provide him with the necessary guidance.

As I reflect on my own role as a father, I know which kind I want to be. I want to be the dad who does what is right and what is best for my children even when they don’t appreciate it. I want to be the dad who refuses to give up on his teenagers no matter how hopeless things may seem. And I want to be the dad who is willing to confront moral and character issues even when I’m dead-tired after a long day at work.

I’m sure my children find me irritating at times, but someday they will understand like I did. Someday they will appreciate that I chose first to be their dad instead of their best friend. Perhaps then we can become best friends.

Note from the editor [Our guest blogger this week is Too Teh Hsin, husband to a Focus on the Family Singapore staff and proud parent of 3 children, ages 23, 18 and 14. Born in Taipei, he lived in the US for 25 years before making Singapore his home a decade ago. He enjoys movies, music, reading and running – after food or just for the love of it!