Super dads: Stay-at-home dads make sacrifices

Super dads: Stay-at-home dads make sacrifices
Mr Lawrence Ng with his wife, Jen, and their nine-year-old, Kai in Australia in 2010.

While other dads work, 42-year-old Mr Lawrence Ng is at home making popcorn with his nine-year-old son, Kai.

His day consists of shopping for groceries, cooking, washing and cleaning, as well as swimming, having movie nights and engaging in Nerf wars with Kai.

This February, Kai was enrolled into Pathlight School.

He had been diagnosed with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in 2007.

"I simply thought that Kai was strong-willed and disobedient before. My punishments got harsher as I was determined to 'break his will'," Mr Ng says.

His boy could hardly obey simple two-word instructions, such that even getting him to eat or drink was a challenge.

Having worked for 14 years in Human Resource management and a few more years in counselling and social work, Mr Ng decided in 2010 to become a stay-home father to take care of Kai.

"Our family was under tremendous stress at that time. My son was frequently getting into trouble at school.

"My wife was steadily sinking into depression and I was dangerously stressed both at work and at home," he says.

The ASD diagnosis had been a great blow to the family and Mr Ng's subsequent choice to let go of his "Singaporean dream" of career advancement was painful.

"It is literally like ripping off my skin, repeatedly.

"The usual dreams of any parents of their children getting good grades at school... graduating from university, having a job with a fanciful income - all those dreams turned into smoke," he adds.

Mr Ng ended up home-schooling Kai until he was accepted into Pathlight School earlier this year. He taught his son English, Math, Science, Arts, Music and Social Studies, as well as practical skills like counting money, telling time and tying shoelaces.

"I learned to flow with Kai's interests and energy level. I used a lot of interesting entertainment such as Star Wars and Scooby Doo to engage with him. Kai is a visual learner, so almost all my lessons involved the use of pictures and videos, together with interactive activities and games," he explains.

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