Patrick's second chance


Actor Patrick Teoh tells ParenThots what it is like going through fatherhood the second time around.

Actor and former radio deejay Patrick Teoh has four children. His two elder daughters – Melissa and Melanie – are 36 and 31 respectively. They are from his first marriage. He also has Laura, nine, and Adam, six, from his second marriage.

His two elder daughters have their own families while the two little ones are just starting out in life.

“Actually the second time round, for me anyway, has been really, really much better than the first time around as far as my relationship with my kids at this age is concerned. Because when my two elder girls were between one and 10, that was when I was just starting out in my career and I used to work most of the time and I really didn't spend that much time with them. Then of course the marriage broke up and as a result I didn't see them very often at all,” he says.

It was only when Melissa and Melanie grew up that they reconciled and became close. However, Patrick admits there's a whole chunk of their childhood that was missing from his life.

Adam and Laura, he says, are his second chance.

“This second time around has given me, from a rather selfish point of view, another chance at getting to know my children when they were at that age, although it is a different set of children, but I'm talking more about the experience of fatherhood during that time of your children's life. Being a father when your children are grown up is of course very, very different from when they are five and eight. So I look at it as a second chance that God, or whoever, has given me, saying 'Don't screw up this time!'

“I am a little bit more mellow, more patient because of age. You tend to slow down a bit and mellow a bit,” he says.

Does he spoil his children?

“To a certain extent I do spoil my children but not overly. I suppose actually we both are disciplinarians. There is no good guy, bad guy in our family. We both discipline them. Right now it's keeping Adam away from the Nintendo Wii game that I made the mistake of buying for him. He can play that game all day long,” he says.

According to Patrick, children today are spoilt for choice in many things yet they are totally deprived of so many things as well.

“They're deprived of time with their parents because not all parents are lucky like me and my wife – we don't work normal hours, we have a lot of time to spend with the children. Other parents work and with the Kuala Lumpur traffic situation, by the time they get home their children are asleep. Working the kind of schedules that normal young Malaysian parents work, weekends you're tired, so where do you go? You don't want to go traipsing around in the heat. You go to a shopping mall. What kind of life is that?

“For us we're lucky; we don't have regular hours so weekends we can just take the kids out to the river, or the forest and give them a look at another side of this country that a lot of kids would not be able to experience. They have computers, they have television, they have great toys to play with on one hand, but on the other hand they're very, very deprived especially if they live in a city like KL and PJ. There is absolutely no environment for kids to grow up in.

“We do try to take our kids out, my wife especially is very good. She likes the outdoors, she likes going for a picnic by the river, taking the kids out to the elephant sanctuary and letting them jump in the river with the elephants. She also comes from a family environment that is very close knit. Every year my wife's family has a huge family reunion – 60, 70 people get together from all over the country and from other countries. They continue bonding with the extended family which a lot of modern children don't have, which I'm very glad that Laura and Adam can have a chance of doing.

“At every available opportunity we do take the kids to experience slightly different things. They've been to Bangkok, Phuket, Minnesota in the winter, they've been swimming with the elephants in the elephant sanctuary, they've been to the Magic River in Kuala Kubu Baru and jumped in the rapids with the orang asli children. They quite enjoy all these things,” explains Patrick.

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