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I was taught that men shouldn't cry, says dad who helps others with parenting issues

I was taught that men shouldn't cry, says dad who helps others with parenting issues
Mr Lye Kim Wong made the decision to become a counsellor in order to build a better relationship with his nine-year-old son.
PHOTO: Lye Kim Wong

SINGAPORE – When his son was born nine years ago, Mr Lye Kim Wong, 38, was excited to start his parenting journey.

But a few years later, he hit a speed bump.

Though he had no problem providing for his son’s material needs like food and toys, Mr Lye found it difficult to build an emotional connection. He could not express his emotions, struggling to say “I love you” or “I’m proud of you”.

“I grew up in a setting where I was taught that men shouldn’t cry or talk about their feelings. It was quite challenging for me when I realised I didn’t want to be that kind of dad,” he said.

He confided in his friends, and realised that there were many like him who needed better support on parenting issues.

Dealing with a hot temper was also a worry for Mr Lye. When a friend came to him one day and broke down as she recalled how she had slapped her child in a burst of anger, it jolted some fear in the former student affairs officer.

He said: “I was worried. I didn’t want something like that to happen to my son in the future.”

He wanted to do better for his child, and also help others who were struggling with their relationships with their kids.

Mr Lye, who is married, spent the next few years attending workshops and reading books on parenting.

Delving into his own childhood experiences helped him realise that past trauma may have been a reason why he found fatherhood tough. 


He said: “My father was not the kind of dad I wanted to be. It was hard as I felt like I needed to learn how to be a father from scratch as I had no role models. I had to heal my own childhood wounds first while learning to be a good father. I didn’t want my son to have my childhood.”

While working on his own parenting journey, Mr Lye also found joy in seeing friends who came to him for advice return with positive feedback.

He said: “I started to think about whether this could be a career for me, as I enjoyed sharing my experiences with other people and helping others on their journey.”

He took a leap of faith and decided to make his new-found passion a career after taking a Master’s in Counselling from the Singapore University of Social Sciences. Now a counsellor at the Singapore Children’s Society’s Yishun Family Service, he taps his own experiences to help families.

He said the most rewarding thing is seeing his son – his only child – grow up “as a happy child, without experiencing the pain and struggles that I had to face in my past”.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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