Step up, daddy cool

  • Focus
  • Friday, 31 Jul 2015

Our daughter is now two.

She is talking, laughing and saying the most hilarious and weird things.

I remember before she was born, I constantly told myself to keep being a supportive husband during the pregnancy, so that when she was born, everything would look after itself. Or so I thought.

During my wife Sofia’s pregnancy, my father and all his friends would always come up to say, “No problem, you will be fine, young man. The wife knows best and she will take care of everything.

“Just be supportive and don’t say anything stupid or insensitive,” they all joked.

But today’s mothers want their husbands to be hands-on.

Prior to becoming a parent, I would always hear the same story from all Aunties and Uncles.

“When the children were younger, Aunty had to look after the kids while Uncle was working tirelessly at the office all day long.

“When Uncle returned home from work, he was too tired to do anything; he would always try and help but I kesian (felt sorry for) him, so I told him to go and rest.”

I seriously thought that is how today’s parents think and what it was going to be like. Au contraire!

According to many of my friends who have just entered parenthood, as soon as the husband walks through the door after work, the wife would come up to him and say, “Nah, it’s your turn to look after the baby.”

The father would then mind the baby until his toddler falls asleep.

During the Daddy-child bonding time, Mummy would probably have her first shower of the day, have something to eat or probably just fall asleep because she is exhausted.

You might think that this sounds a little unfair, as the husband has been working all day.

But let me paint you a picture of when I look after my daughter on the weekends so my wife can attempt to get some rest.

I am feeding my daughter breakfast, she spills the drink on the table and I have to clean it up.

Ten minutes later, she poops.

So I go upstairs and change her. After that, I go back to the breakfast table to make sure she finishes her breakfast.

Then she wants to watch TV or read a book.

While doing either one, she gets distracted and walks to the front door or the stairs of the house.

I then chase her and tell her firmly not to do that again.

I want to go to the toilet, but she follows me.

When I tell her to please give me a minute, she bangs on the door and screams “Dada! Dada! Dada!”

Working full-time compared to being a full-time parent almost feels like a walk in the park.

When we are at work, if we want to have a coffee break, we can; if we want to go to the toilet, we can; if we want to have lunch, we can.

If you are a Mum looking after a child or children on a daily basis, would you get this luxury?

Most mums would say “No.”

Times have changed.

Today’s definition of “Daddy Cool” is to be hands-on and not just help out.

I am happy to share that many of today’s fathers want to be hands-on.

According to a 2013 State of Asian Men Study (Malaysia, China and Singapore), 51% of the men surveyed said they handle childcare, and 54% take care of household duties.

The survey also stated that over eight in 10 Singaporean, Malaysian and Chinese men said their parenting style is very different from their fathers’.

According to an American survey, 90% of fathers said they take on bathing, dressing and diaper changing duties, and 72% said they fed or ate with their offspring on a daily basis.

But settle down boys, we are far from reaching the boss status in our home.

The Asian survey also showed that the buck still stops with the mum – over 70% of men across all three markets admit their spouse takes care of enforcing routines; bedtime, education of manners, eating schedules and doing homework.

But I have learnt through experience that the parenting ball game is now very different.

Us blokes have to try and share the toddler workload because, as mentioned earlier, full-time work is far less challenging than looking after the kids, and perceptions have changed.

Sofia always tells me to enjoy these moments of brushing our daughter’s teeth and bathing her because, when she is older, she will feel too shy for her Dad to do all these things for her.

So to all Daddies out there, our job descriptions have just got bigger.

There are no monetary bonuses in this job, just plenty of tears – tears of laughter and joy.

To all Mummies, thank you for doing the hardest job in the world. If you left it to us guys, every household would be turned upside down.

But don’t worry, like I said earlier, times are changing and so are the hubbies.

I would like to wish all Malaysians a Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, maaf zahir dan batin.

Ben Ibrahim is a TV presenter, emcee, writer, corporate trainer, educator and a father. He can be contacted on twitter @benibrahim instagram @benibrahim_ and his email

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Opinion , Central Region , ben ibrahim , fatherhood


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