To 11-year-old Michael Gabriel Muthuraman, his father Murphy Muthuraman Muniandy is “his hero”.
“He’s always there to provide for our needs. Daddy gives us pocket money every day. And he’s there to guide us. He helps me with my studies and teaches me science, mathematics and technology,” says the youngest of Murphy’s three sons.
“Plus he buys me stuff that I like!” adds Michael, and his siblings laugh.
Murphy, 43, and his wife Michelle Gabrina MG Maegal, 37, have three sons.
The building manager says that even though he is usually busy with work, he makes sure that he spends quality time with his wife and children on Sundays.
“I work six days a week and Sunday is family day. We’re Catholics so we attend morning mass at 7am and we’ll have our activities after that,” he says.
Appreciating our fathers
When asked what being a father means to him, Murphy says that people often don’t appreciate their own father until they become fathers themselves.
“When we’re young, we often don’t value our fathers because we don’t realise how much they’ve supported and provided for us. But as we grow older and become fathers ourselves, then we start to realise what it means – the sacrifices that they’ve gone through to provide for and raise us, as well as lead, guide and advise us – and only then do we start to appreciate them,” he explains.
“So it’s important to listen to our father. A father may not be perfect and sometimes they make mistakes but they always have your best interest at heart,” he adds.
Murphy reveals that his late father was a very strict man.
“He was a government servant and is very punctual and proper. I grew up in the government quarters in Cheras where my father was based. When he retired, we moved to Ampang,” he says.
In hindsight, Murphy now understands his father’s uncompromising standards.
“It’s important to teach your children right from wrong. A good father always wants their children to be better than themselves, so that they’ll have a more comfortable life,” he says.
Middle son Melvin, 13, says that his father is a good provider and teacher.
“He’s smart, strong and brave. He protects and stands up for us and for what’s right.
“He helps us in our studies. He teaches and guides us in the proper way. He also buys us what we need,” he says.
The three boys fondly refer to their father as Appa or Daddy, depending on their mood.
“They usually call him Daddy but when they want to manja, they call him Appa,” says mother Michelle, smiling.
Be there for your children
Murphy’s advice to all fathers is to spend time with their children.
“Be present for your children. Don’t be an absent father. No doubt fathers are busy, just like me, because they’ve to earn a living to support their family but always make time for your wife and kids,” he says.
“You need to do so, in order to make sure they don’t go down the wrong path, get involved with bad company, do drugs, or other illegal stuff,” he adds.
“Reputation is very important. So make sure your children guard theirs and their family’s name,” says Murphy.
While discipline is important, Murphy feels it is important to build a relationship with his sons.
“I try to be a friend to my children and give them the freedom to make their own decisions. In this way, I hope they’ll be open with me and share what they’re feeling, thinking, and so on.
“I also guide them, like when they’re wrong, I need to tell them, without shouting and yelling, because that won’t achieve anything except anger,” he says.
‘I believe there are ways to correct and guide them so that while they listen and learn, they won’t hide or keep secrets from us.”
Eldest son Matthew, 15, nods in agreement.
“My father is like a friend to me. He’s not the fierce type and I feel comfortable talking with him,” he acknowledges.
Mother Michelle expresses her appreciation too.
“Murphy isn’t just a great dad but he’s also a great friend to our three sons.
“He’s not the controlling nor strict, authoritative type. He gives our sons the freedom to be themselves and to grow, as long as they’re not going down the wrong path,” she says.
“Even though he can’t spend a lot of time with the family due to his work commitments, he makes sure that when he does, it’s quality time.
“Whenever the kids need anything – whether for school or tuition – he’s always there to provide for them and guide them,” she adds.
“He takes an interest in all that they do, including how they’re doing in school.”
“Being a good father often has to do with one’s upbringing. So I’m thankful to my late father-and-mother-in-law who raised him with good values, which he in turn imparts to our children, including how important it is to respect women,” she concludes.