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'Your children are a reflection of you': We ask fathers to give advice to first-time dads

'Your children are a reflection of you': We ask fathers to give advice to first-time dads
PHOTO: Leong Hua Kuan

Being a first-time father is a daunting experience, especially when it comes to figuring out your role as a dad.

For Father's Day, we spoke to seven dads who shared with us what some told them when they were preparing to become parents. 

And they provided some words of wisdom to nervous, soon-to-be daddies. 

'Be the first to apologise'

Joshua Sim, 43

When Joshua had his first child, he was advised to not "sweat the small stuff". 

And these words definitely helped him through his parenting journey. 

"Yes, there will definitely be conflicting views and tension, but always look to the big picture and respond in love," he told AsiaOne. 

Over the past few years of being a father, he's learnt that time is the best gift one can give their child. 

"The time spent with your children is never wasted. If a solid foundation is built, you will always be their shelter and support, and the love you receive in return is invaluable," he said. 

Looking back on his journey, Joshua shared that if he could turn back the clock and change one thing he had done as a father, he said that he wished he had responded in patience and love more often. 

"Also remember, they are only children, you are the adult in the relationship," he added. 

For new fathers out there, he advises you to always come back to forgiveness and love, no matter what. 

"If you and your child had a rough time, be the first to apologise, to hug and to show that it's ok to be vulnerable." 

'They grow up very quickly'

Leong Hua Kuan, 41

"Being a father means the world to me. My children are the source of my inspiration now, I cannot imagine a world without them," Hua Kuan, a father of two children, told AsiaOne. 

When he had his first child at 34 years old, several advised him to cherish and spend the time with his kids while they are little because they will grow up fast.

"The advice helped but I'm still working on it," he told us frankly. 

When we asked him about what advice he would give to a new father, he said the exact same thing. 

"Spend a lot of time with your children, as they grow up very quickly. Be their source of support," he said. 

Hua Kuan added that one thing that he's learnt as a parent is to set a good example for them because at the end of the day, you're their role model. 

"You may find that your children don’t always follow your instructions, but they will imitate your actions and habits. If you want them to listen to you, make sure you listen to them as well," he advised. 

"Your children are a reflection of you. They will emulate your characteristics, both good and bad. Often, the negative traits are more pronounced in your children." 

And though he's done all that he could to provide for his kids, he admitted that there are some things he wished he could have done differently for them. 

"I would have invested more wisely and better prepared myself financially for my children," he shared.

"Having children can significantly impact your financial situation." 

'Make time for them. They matter' 

Tan Yi Kai, 40

When Yi Kai and his wife were expecting their first child, their gynecologist told them: "Everything in moderation is a good way to live well." 

And the couple listened to this advice and applied it to their parenting journey. 

Yi Kai admitted to us that one thing he wishes he could go back in time to change is how he handled money. 

"Money is not everything. But with a better financial situation, a parent can have more choices in lifestyles and holiday plans for the family," he told AsiaOne. 

But something more important than money is time, and he advises new fathers to prioritise that.

"Spend time with your children and family, including your grandparents. Even better, make time for them. They matter." 

'Have a good foundation before having kids'

Jimmy Phua, 67

Despite having three kids, Jimmy has never received any parenting advice. 

So everything that he knows today is self-taught. 

To him, being a father is about being able to provide for the family, monetary-wise or by being a stay-at-home dad. 

One of the most important things the semi-retired business owner learnt to do for his kids is to build up his wealth. 

"A normal disposable income from a typical office job is not enough to feed the family," he pointed out. 

He also believes that it is important for parents to be prepared to have children. 

"Have a good foundation before having kids," he advised. 

'When they grow up, they may never be the same'

Li Guan Hui, 39

Some pieces of advice Guan Hui was told when he had his first child was to go with the flow and not fret over the small things. 

To him, being a father means to always support and guide his children, as well as to be there for them emotionally and mentally. 

While some fathers often look back in regret about how they parented their child, Guan Hui thinks otherwise. 

"No turning back, no regrets. By no means I'm a perfect father, but I prefer to move forward," he told us. 

As for advice, he, like other fathers we spoke to, emphasised the importance of time. 

"Spend time with your children in their early years, because when they grow up they may never be the same person anymore." 

He also urged parents to not be pressured to have more kids to be siblings for their existing child. 

"Do not give in to social norms or social pressure when family and friends ask you to make more children just so that they can play with each other," he said. 

"To me, that advice is the most irresponsible thing you could follow. It wouldn't be fair to the family as you wont be able to give the best support to them and you may be a burden in the future. By all means have more children if you are financially strong." 

'Always practise empathy and patience'

Chan Heng Kay, 61

Back when Heng Kay's wife was pregnant with his first child, he was told very simple and practical advice: "Feed her more good food." 

This is probably why his baby was 3.9kg when she was born. 

While raising his children, he's learnt how to understand his child when it comes to their lifestyle, struggles and passions. 

"It takes a lot of patience and willingness to learn as a parent. I can be quite traditional sometimes but I've learnt to open my eyes to be closer to my children as well. If possible, I want to be their best friend too," he said. 

As for advice for new fathers, he urges them to be kind and show love. 

"Whatever happens to them, whatever wrongdoing they do, always practise empathy and patience. We're all living for the first time," Heng Kay shared. 

And for himself, he wants to be a pillar of strength and support for his children but also being a kid with them sometimes. 

'Be truthful, sincere and reliable'

Clarence Teo Keng Gin, 61 

When Clarence was planning to have children, he was advised to not have them too late in age or too early. 

"Very important and good advice," he told us. 

Being a father for the past 29 years has taught him how to be a good role model for his kids and to live within his means. 

And like the other dads, he's emphasises that quality time is of upmost importance. 

Though he's gone through many ups and downs with his children over the past few years, he looks back with no regrets and wouldn't have changed anything. 

"I am proud to be a father and it has been a great honour and privilege to raise a family and provide for them." 

For new fathers, his advice is simple. 

"Be truthful, sincere and reliable," he said. 

ALSO READ: 10 Singapore dads share the most unforgettable moments of their child's birth 

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