Losing son turns tough dad into a caring one
Sales manager focuses on quality time with kids instead of tough love
Sales manager Desmond Koh, 41, used to believe in tough love.
He was strict and withheld praise in the hope that it would push his children to go further.
But after losing his eldest son in 2013 to illness when he was 10, Mr Koh changed his parenting style towards his two remaining children.
Now, he focuses more on spending quality time with his six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter to ensure they have a happier childhood.
Mr Koh is among five fathers featured at the launch of the Celebrating Fathers 2017 community movement at Junction 10 yesterday.
Celebrating Fathers is a nationwide movement, jointly organised by Centre for Fathering, Dads for Life and Mediacorp, to celebrate the role of fathers and raise awareness about the importance of active fatherhood.
Centre for Fathering chairman Richard Hoon, 60, said: "It is important for us to reach out to fathers, especially when they are new fathers... when the children are still listening. As the children get older, they listen less and less.
"A lot of fathers only try to intervene when their children are already young adults, only to find their children are not very receptive. We are trying to help remedy this."Mr Koh's eldest son was a promising footballer, winning an award for best goalkeeper in one of the junior competitions in the Fandi Ahmad Academy.
He was even selected to play for the Fandi Ahmad Elite Team for children below the age of 10.
Mr Koh said: "He had a lot of potential. Once, he asked me if I was proud of his football achievements, and I remember giving him a nonchalant response.
"I hardly praised my eldest because I didn't want him to grow complacent."
His eldest son also went from the worst class in Primary 3 to the top two classes in Primary 4.
While he told his son he was proud of him, Mr Koh also urged him to double his efforts to achieve even better results.
He said: "Now, I wish I had talked to him instead of just pushing him."
While he does discipline his children, he tries to be less harsh with them.
Mr Koh said: "I think it is important to let children be children sometimes.
"As parents, we get angry and scold our kids but it only works up to a point.
"It is important to communicate with kids. Don't just scold them, understand why they are acting that way. That is what I have learnt.
"I truly appreciate the presence of my two children even more now. I have some regrets in life. I don't want to add more regrets with how I raise my two remaining children."
These two dads make things betters for their daughters
Mr Eric Kwek, 42, does not find it easy being a single dad to his seven-year-old daughter, Kylie.
He told The New Paper: "It is striking the balance between being strict and tender and loving towards my daughter."
His divorce was finalised in 2013. He shares joint custody of Kylie, who lives with him during the weekdays, and her mother during the weekends.
"Because my ex-wife is remarried with a kid, there is more company for Kylie at her place. So sometimes, Kylie is a bit reluctant to come back," said Mr Kwek.
"But Kylie cares a lot for my feelings, so she comes back because she knows I will be sad."
A property agent, Mr Kwek schedules his appointments around the time spent sending his daughter to and from school, as well as having dinner with her.Another father, Mr Desmond Tin, 46, was a well-paid internal auditor until he was retrenched several years ago.
He worked as a supermarket packer and is now a Uber and Grab driver, clocking 50 to 60 hours a week.
The transition has been hard for the sole breadwinner, but Mr Tin pushes through for his wife and two daughters.
The most painful part of the transition was hearing that his elder daughter felt ashamed that he was a blue-collar worker. He said: "I was heartbroken. I do not really blame her. I pampered her a lot when she was younger, so maybe this change is difficult for her to adapt to."
Mr Tin strives to make it home to cook dinner.
"I am not one for mushy stuff like saying 'I love you', so this is my way of expressing my love to them."