We Asked Men in Their 30s, 40s, and 50s: What’s It Like Being a Father?

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We often hear stories of motherhood, but what about the other half? For these four men, being a father has been an experience filled with laughter, lessons, and love that no man can fully grasp until they live it themselves.

Here are their stories.

Anson, 30.

Other couples who have kids say the same thing:

“You might think kids are fun, but taking care of them is not,”

“You think they’re cute now, wait till they grow up…they’re like monkeys!”

“Once you have kids, say goodbye to your dating life,”

…and so on.

At first I thought, “Maybe our relationship will be strained due to having a kid. Maybe our dating life will be over…”

I had my doubts, but when I saw my son for the first time, all these feelings were swept away.

Seeing how happy my grandpa and grandma were when they carried him brought intense joy to my heart.

I knew at that very instant that I needed to teach my son what his grandpa and grandma taught me when I was little. I needed to be strong, not just for the family, but also my son – our son.

Words can’t describe my family’s feeling now. All I know is that our moods and spirits have become so much more colorful upon Brandon’s arrival.

I used to envy other couples when their child would lay on their shoulder, sleeping and hugging them. Now that I’ve experienced this, let me tell you – it’s the BEST FEELING EVER.

I have learned so much after I focused on building my own family. I learned to be a mature family man, and you know what? I’m still learning every day.

My son is now two months old. I know that this is the best journey that we will walk through together.

Photo credit: Anson Wong

Adrian, 36.

One of the most amazing things about being a first-time dad has to be witnessing your child’s growth – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Our little Arissa is just three and a half months old, but every week there is something new which are an emotional roller coaster for her mom and me.

From the joy we felt when Arissa started recognising us and began smiling at us, to how distraught we were when she caught her first flu – your emotions are on overdrive as a parent.

And it’s every time the little one learns to do something new, like when she was able to lift her head by herself for the first time, made her first communicative ‘baby noise’, or learned how to grip your finger oh-so-tightly.

It is an absolutely amazing feeling to know that you and your partner both had a part to play in helping this little person learn how to do all these things.

It is also at this moment that the sheer scale of the responsibility sinks in – that this innocent soul is relying entirely on the both of you to care for her and coach her to be the best version of herself throughout her life.

The knowledge that what you do (or don’t) is going to have a lifelong impact on this little person’s life – that’s quite scary, but also incredibly heartwarming.

 Photo credit: Adrian Tan

James, 45.

I thought I knew what unconditional love was, but I was wrong. It was the moment I held my baby boy, that I finally understood. I just wanted to love, protect, and care for him.

It’s been an amazing experience, but so hard to put into words. I finally understood what my parents had gone through and what they felt during their time.

My parenting style is different from my dad’s. Coming from a more traditional Chinese family, my father doesn’t really interact or show much emotion to us.

As for me, I just want to be like my children’s buddy. My sons are now 11 and 7, and I want to get to know their favourite games and Youtube videos, their best friends, what they did in school, their likes and dislikes, everything.

I’ve never made up a story to get my kid to obey me. I think that’s one of the worst methods. I’ll always be ready to listen to them about any problems they have.

The one thing I want to do is help my kid cultivate a higher EQ. Because in real life, they will face many challenges, and the truth is, they won’t always come out on top.

So if they do fail, I hope they will pick themselves up as soon as possible, learn from their mistakes and move on, or try again.

Andreas, 53.

My dad died when I was 12. That was a pivotal year for me. I was young, and all his teachings were subtle.

I remember he guided by example, without pretending to do that. He was just living life as he knew best. He never gave me lectures. He just lived.

And unconsciously, I was observing him.

I observed how he worked in the fields, how he would sing to me, how he was hard and gentle at the same time, how he managed his small restaurant which he operated only on Saturday mornings at the village bazaar.

We had no safety net, so we had to ensure our own survival. And in that journey, we wasted nothing and made the best out of everything.

My dad taught me simply by living as he did. I now know how valuable that was.

But sadly, he left too early for me to tell him.

What they never tell you about being a dad is how fast the whole experience will unfold. Nothing prepares you for that.

I look back and it seems that 15 years have passed by in the blink of an eye. I was changing diapers yesterday, and today we are searching for colleges for him to enrol in a couple of years…

If I had a time machine, I would go back 15 years and remove my own life filters to see the situation from my son’s eyes and heart.

When he was much older, I tried to reason with him on what he only saw as chores, like cleaning the yard, go grocery shopping, saving electricity, not wasting food.

But to me, what I saw was a good exercise in contributing to the family responsibilities.

I saw my dad in me, in that effort. The challenge was how to see things from both points of view, and how to find common ground.

As a dad, I want the best for my son. But what I think is best for him may be different from what he wants. And while I always provide for his needs, I do not always give him what he wants.

Finding that balance between Needs and Wants is one of the toughest things for me.

So I say, always try to see things from your kid’s perspective. After that, change your words and behaviour to suit that point of view, and adjust your delivery from that angle.

And, I know everyone says this, but spend time with your son. Just do it. Even if it’s just watching him play video games. This is important to him, and it’ll be the best investment you will ever do.

I missed a lot of it, and unfortunately, I cannot turn back time.

Photo credit: Andreas V.

For more stories about fatherhood, read Meet Tim: Entrepreneur, Businessman, and Dad, and 4 Most Important Life Lessons from My Late Dad.

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