Content creator Dr Shazril Shaharuddin shares his perspectives on parenthood

Dr Shazril Shaharuddin – a father of three, general practitioner and content creator – is an inspiration this Fathers Day as he is navigating life’s challenges with grace. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

Daddy, doctor, content creator – Dr Shazril Shaharuddin, also known as “Dr Say” by his followers, wears many hats, striking a delicate balance between his professional self and his family life.

His content creator role is going better than ever – he regularly posts medical advice and tips on social media, and talks openly about his experiences as a parent to a child with autism.

Father to Aezriel, Sefriel and Zeqriel (five, three and four-months-old respectively), the 35-year general practitioner also runs a clinic with two partners and his wife, Dr Azura Abas, who is also a content creator.

Born to pharmacist parents who worked regular hours, the youngest of three says he had a normal childhood where they would have family dinners every night and do schoolwork together.

The interest in the field of medicine runs strong in the family – his eldest sister is a pharmacist, while his other sister completed a medical degree as well as a PhD in physiology.

The father to Aezriel, Sefriel and Zeqriel also runs a clinic with two partners and his wife, Dr Azura Abas, who is also a content creator. — Dr Shazril Shaharuddin/InstagramThe father to Aezriel, Sefriel and Zeqriel also runs a clinic with two partners and his wife, Dr Azura Abas, who is also a content creator. — Dr Shazril Shaharuddin/Instagram

With no plans on pursuing a career as a specialist, Dr Shazril left government service in 2017 and began working on his content creating career.

“I focused on strengthening my personal brand first. At the time, there weren’t many doctors who were giving advice or sharing medical tips on social media, so that’s how it all started.”

He felt like he could make an impact by sharing medical tips online, and despite the challenges, Dr Shazril finds it intensely rewarding.

“Being a content creator enables me to reach more people out there. In Islam there are three things that will continue to give you rewards even when you are no longer in this world: the dua (prayer) of your kids, the charity you have done and the knowledge that you have shared which continues to be practised,” he says.

“It’s fulfilling to see and hear when my followers message me or stop me in malls to thank me for coming up with content that is meaningful to them and relevant to their daily lives.”

He finds that the community around his social media is a positive one, with comments that are mostly supportive, motivating him to do more.

“Many use social media to vent their anger and frustration but each time I post, the feedback is mostly positive and many of the comments also help others who are struggling with the same issue,” notes Dr Shazril, who also ventured into training clients and recently did his first gig on “Importance of Health in Women”.

Modern fatherhood

While his content creation career is going well, it is in his home life that he is most focused.

“I’m in ‘standby mode’ as my first son who is autistic has just been enrolled in an international school. However as the school has no prior experience with handling autistic students, I need to be prepared mentally and financially if the school decides my son is not eligible to attend the school.”

As a working father juggling his practice and content commitments, Dr Shazril often finds it challenging to make time for his boys.

“My work, primarily as a content creator, requires me to always come up with content, ideally on a daily basis, and it can be quite demanding balancing between paid campaigns and my own content,” he says.

“Plus, I need to be aware of peak social media traffic periods, for example posting at rush hour, between 5pm and 8pm. This is a crucial time to post but it’s also when my boys and wife are around, so at times I need to rework my priorities.”

Dr Shazril immerses himself fully in his roles as family man, doctor and content creator. — YAP CHEE HONG/The StarDr Shazril immerses himself fully in his roles as family man, doctor and content creator. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

Raising three children, one of whom has special needs, has completely shifted his perspective on parenthood.

“It taught me the importance of accepting that ‘this is enough, whatever I have is enough’. If circumstances were different, I might have focused too much energy on chasing fame and money, hence when I was blessed with a son who is autistic, it’s like a sign for me to settle down and focus on him because true enough, when I did, somehow I achieved things that were beyond my imagination.”

Having three young children, he has to ensure that he treats each of them equally, and create a supportive and inclusive environment at home that caters to their unique needs.

“If we spend ‘X’ amount of time with our special needs son, we will spend ‘X’ amount of time with our neurotypical sons. Whenever we go on a vacation, we will bring all of them together even though the vacation is basically parenting in a different city or country.”

Rolling with the punches

Together with his wife and two other doctors, Dr Shazril has just opened a clinic in Taman Nirwana Ampang in Kuala Lumpur.

“We are pouring our sweat and tears into it to make it work because let’s face it, doing the same job over and over again, churning content day in day out is quite dull hence I’m hoping this clinic works so that I can earn passive income from it to focus on my family and my wife,” says Dr Shazril.

“Time is definitely the main challenge in content creating. For each content I would spend hours just to curate the story line and script, followed by shooting and editing the video,” he says. “I used to quarrel a lot with my wife as she said I was always on my phone and there were times when I spent almost 14 hours daily on my phone. But since I hired a manager who helps me deal with agencies and clients, life has been very organised.”

“Plus, after you’ve been doing all your content and editing your own videos, you get better at it, hence I’m now saving time and spending more meaningful time with my family.”

Creating content being time consuming is one thing, and then there’s the challenge of being relevant and relatable.

“Coming up with ideas is another headache because you need to think of content that is relatable to others and at the same time, relevant to what’s happening now, and finding the balance between posting content that is paid and not paid.”

As busy individuals, making time for each other as a couple is a challenge, but when they do get the opportunity to, they make full use of it.

His children have also inspired him to lead a healthier life. — YAP CHEE HONG/The StarHis children have also inspired him to lead a healthier life. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

“It could be as simple as heading down to the mamak, window shopping, chilling at the cafe or something major like travelling together, just the two of us,” he says.

“It’s important to make time for each other to talk about what’s happening in each other’s lives and to have deep and meaningful conversations. Sometimes couples get so tied up with work and kids that we lose that connection with our spouse which will lead to two human beings living together in a house as friends instead of husband and wife.”

Focusing on what matters

Children can be a source of much stress, but as most parents will attest, they bring you so much joy and fulfilment.

“Whenever I come home they will be jumping for joy and that gives me such happiness, and when I take them on vacations or to the playground and they say they had so much fun, it makes me tear up inside,” he says.

His children have also inspired him to lead a healthier life.

“At the age of 36, I have hypercholesterolemia and renal disease stage 2, hence I want to stay healthy and fit to see them grow, so this gives me the motivation to push myself on a daily basis,” he shares.

The drive to spend more time with his children continuously inspires Dr Shazril to look for jobs or passive income.

“It’s important so that I can spend more time with them physically and mentally, and this has driven me to find a manager to help me manage stuff, photographer and videographer to help me shoot and edit my content, so that I can be mentally and physically present for my family.”

For fathers who may be navigating similar experiences with raising a child with autism, while also managing their careers and family life, Dr Shazril’s advice is to first accept the fact that your kid is different.

“I too was in denial at first for quite some time,” says Dr Shazril, who posted at length on his socials recalling the early days of discovering his son’s condition.

“Second is to put them first and help them as much as you can and as fast as you can even if it means you have to sell your car, you have to downgrade your life for their therapy needs because with autism, you have a golden period of up until six years old to help them shape their behaviour and their rigidity.”

“Put aside all your hobbies and dreams for the time being and help them first, because if you are unable to help them as much as you can, you would regret not doing so for the rest of your life,” he advises.

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