Personal bio: I became a dad at 18 years old and I hope what I share here will speak to young parents wanting to know more about a young dad’s life, relationship and anything related. I’m now a father of two children, age one and eight. Looking back, my parenting journey was a steep learning curve filled with plenty of learning experiences.
Who influences your parenting style?
At the beginning, none of my peers were parents. I had to observe and ask for feedback from people around me, especially my children. Since parenting is very much a teamwork between husband and wife, it is definitely easier if both of our values align and our communication is in sync.
How does your parenting style differ from your parents?
I think the biggest consolation I always give myself is that if I was brought up in a certain manner and I turned out fine, it should probably be the same for my children. Gradually, I realised that it was a very selfish thought on my part because I was thinking about myself first, instead of my children. When you place your children first, it’s about them and not about my own experience. Having said that, the difference in parenting style would be that I spend more time having conversations with my children.
How do you develop close relationship(s) with your children?
By creating opportunities to speak to them and spending time without external distractions like mobile devices, TV and so on. Everyday, I will have a conversation with my daughter over breakfast, with a genuine intention to connect with her. I make it a non-negotiable thing each morning. Once in a while, I will spend one-on-one alone time with each child, rather than have divided attention between the two of them.
What is the best piece of parenting advice or guidance you have ever received?
I read an article before that talked about parents having many other commitments like social life, career and so on. But in the eyes of children, their parents are everything that they have. This changed my perspective of how I view things. If I had a bad day at work, my child could also have had a bad day at school. And I’m probably the only person that my child can confide in.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in parenting? How do you deal with them?
Looking back, it was a lot about setting priorities right. Mostly, whether work or children comes first. I learn to give and take, and if there are things that my children emphasise, I will do the same. As a young parent, there were plenty of trials and errors in the way I managed the parent-child relationship. For the most part, I was trying to convince my children to do the things to my benefit or convenience. It’s always easy to tell them “no means no” or “listen to me”. However, this can cause negative emotions.
As a parent, what is the one thing that you want to do better or be better at?
You know there are some situations where your child spots your bad habit or bad behaviour, whether it could be snacking on junk food, focusing too much on mobile devices and so on. If there’s one thing I want to be better, it would be to lead by example as much as possible.
What advice do you have for parents who have kids of the same age?
Every child is unique and each of them will learn differently and excel differently. Be part of their growth story, instead of trying to mould them to our desired outcome.
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Community Ambassador; as someone who was raised in a rather privileged family, I hope to address the inequity in educational outcomes based on the circumstance of birth. Bounced around between Australia and Singapore a fair bit.