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It takes two to parent so why does mummy get all the flak when it comes to raising the children? We turn to Andie Chen, Jason Godfrey, Shane Mardjuki, Daniel Ong and Aun Koh to weigh in on fatherhood BY NATALYA MOLOK

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It takes two to parent so why does mummy get all the flak when it comes to raising the children? We turn to Andie Chen, Jason Godfrey, Shane Mardjuki, Daniel Ong and Aun Koh to weigh in on fatherhood BY NATALYA MOLOK

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“I just have to help the wife with a bit of her chores and she thinks I’m super dad”

Andie Chen

33, Actor

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He’s one of the most sought-after stars in showbiz but actor Andie Chen is known for more than just his acting chops these days. The father-of-two is celebrated as a caring husband to wife, Kate Pang, and doting dad to their bundles of joy: Aden, aged four, and Avery, two.

What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?

“Well, I’m not a big fan of baby poop, but I think sleep is the one that gets me the most – just not getting enough rest. I think it’s getting better now, but before my kids turned two, I think that period is just [shakes head and mimics explosion]. The lack of sleep is the main thing that’s stopping us from having a third baby. Just those two years, where you can’t function properly as a human being is a major deterrent. You know when people say you get used to not having enough sleep? Nope, that’s a lie. You never get used to it. Having children is worth it, but it is not easy.”

Who do you think has it harder when it comes to parenting: Father or mother?

“Mums have it harder because they deal with so much more. It’s one of the few remaining perks of being a man in our time. Mums have to balance everything and it’s a lot of work. For example, sometimes when I’m tired, I sleep alone and my kids sleep with my wife. She doesn’t give me a hard time for that, I just have to help her with her chores a little bit and she thinks I’m super dad.”

How has your relationship with your father affected your parenting style?

“I didn’t have a lot of guidance on the rules of life, like what were the morals I should have followed, what were the values I should have had. My dad was just trying to survive in our society. So I’ve learnt from those lessons on my own and I’ve kind of broken down what I should provide for my kids: Making sure they’re physically healthy is the first thing; second is making sure they’re psychologically healthy; and the third is to make sure they have the right values they can build on, because a lot of the times in life, I feel like I’m building a house of cards – I build myself up, but then I don’t have a strong foundation, so it just collapses and then, I have to build myself up again. I’m trying to teach my kids these lessons.”

I want to be remembered as…“loving, firm and present”.

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“I would throw myself into the parenting thing because that’s what my dad showed me”

Jason Godfrey

41, FLY Entertainment Artiste

Model, actor, television host… Jason Godfrey wears a lot of hats and he wants to add one more to that list: Father. The recently-married hunk doesn’t have kids yet but it’s definitely on the agenda for this Canadian-Filipino talent.

Why do you want to be a dad? And what kind of dad do you think you’ll be?

“I want to be a dad because from an evolutionary standpoint, that really is why we are on the planet, to pass on our genes. On a more personal level, I feel like I’m ready for it. I like to think I’ll be the fun, super-cool dad, but in reality I’ll probably be the controlling, micro-managing father. Hopefully, I’m not awful and can raise a half-decent human being.”

How will your relationship with your father affect your parenting style?

“My dad was very inclusive. The one thing I can think of is when I was a kid. I would cry because I wasn’t good at baseball so every day after work, my father coached me until I got really good. That continued every night after school from when I was 10 to 16 years old. It got to a point where my father could not throw a ball as hard anymore to challenge me. I feel that I would try to throw myself into the parenting thing because that’s what my dad showed me.”

Why does society expect more from a woman when she’s a parent as opposed to a man?

“I think mums have it harder because of traditional gender roles, which dictate that the woman has to feed, clothe and clean the kids, while the dad goes to work, smokes a pipe on a rocking chair and wins father of the year. That cliche is slowly dying though, as it should.”

What is the greatest challenge for fathers in the modern day?

“My greatest concern for raising a kid in our day and age would be social media. I don’t know what kind of adults come out of a childhood spent preening for validation on social networks. A kid who doesn’t know how to find happiness outside of the vacuous approval of strangers on the Internet scares the crap out of me.”

I want to be remembered as…”kind, loving and supportive”.

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“I’ve always wanted to give my child something I never had – a father”

Daniel Ong

42, Founder, Twelve Cupcakes, Mischief, Brewlander and DAGNC

Jump onto Daniel Ong’s Instagram account and you’ll immediately notice that his profile is peppered with photos of one girl in particular: Renee, his eight-year-old daughter. The media personality says there’s nothing he hates about being a dad, especially because he grew up without one.

How has your relationship with your father affected your parenting style?

“I never had a dad so basically parenting was a blank canvas. I didn’t have any negative associations tied to it because I didn’t have a relationship with him – he left when I was about seven months old. Having had no father figure growing up, I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to give Renee something I never had so that’s why I make it a point to give her everything. My style is only one style: All love. Even when I’m disciplining her, I’m actually having fun because I get to shape who she becomes in the future.”

What advice do you have for budding fathers?

“First you need to make one. Then after the child comes, you also need to be present. For everything! But it’s the most amazing experience. What’s really fulfilling is when this miniature version of you does something that you don’t expect them to do. Renee started speaking at about four months, she said her first word, and we have it on video. She said ‘hello’ and we were like ‘what?!’, so when that happened we went ballistic and that joy can’t be measured. I love everything about fatherhood.”

What are your thoughts on breastfeeding and that rollercoaster journey for mums?

“I thought it was absolutely beautiful! Loved it! Also, as I knew of the issues of engorgement and blocked ducts, I recall cheering on Renee to help her mama (Jaime Teo). During the time of birth and being a new dad, I went all in and I was all hands on deck 24 hours a day. Sex was the last thing on my mind, of course, after seeing what the wife went through. I saw the whole thing!”

Do you think mums have it harder when it comes to parenting then?

“Mums do have it harder but because Jaime and I are divorced, we’ve broken up the roles a little bit so that we can share the load of parenting. We’ve communicated straight from the start as well that ‘you’re in charge of this and I’m in charge of this’. I’m in charge of being the fun dad, taking her to the park and to the zoo but I’m also in charge of the heavy topics like ‘If you lie, what’s going to happen? Your father is going to talk to you’, and then psychologically in their minds they think ‘Oh my god, oh my god, what’s going to happen?’ We caned Renee once and that one time was all it took for her whole life, to be scared of me. So it was just one time and that was that, but mums do have it tougher because they deal with so much more.”

I want to be remembered as… “fun, loving, and somebody to talk to”.

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“One of my biggest struggles as a dad is keeping it together as an adult”

Shane Mardjuki

39, FLY Entertainment Artiste

Daddy dearest to two bouncing kiddos – four-year-old Ellie Bee and one-year-old Oscar Bear – Shane has the luxury of spending most of the day with his cheeky children due to the nature of his job, which means he takes on more than regular dads do on a day-to-day basis.

Do you have any good advice to share with the fathersto- be out there?

“Go all in with the wife when you’re with the wife, and go all in with the kids when you’re with the kids, but don’t neglect the wife when you’re with the kids because that happens a lot.”

What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?

“I feel like I’m not alone when I say that one of my biggest struggles is keeping it together enough to handle something like an adult. Sometimes it’s very difficult, especially when I’m angry at the kids.”

What are your thoughts on breastfeeding and the journey that some mums struggle through?

“Dads get celebrated for every tiny thing. There’s a bit of backlash about it now, but people have stopped me on the street and said, ‘You’re such a good dad’, and I’m just taking my kid to school. I think breastfeeding made me realise how useless a man can be in the act of child rearing. I would wake up every time my wife woke up in the beginning and then I started to realise, ‘Oh man, I’m not contributing in any way, I am just a decorative doorstop’. At best, I could offer a back rub but that’s it. So, my respect for mummy went up after witnessing her breastfeeding journey.”

How has your relationship with your dad affected your own ability as a parent?

“When it came to my relationship with my dad, a lot of what I learnt about parenting happened just by osmosis. The thing I fear is that you learn the good habits and the bad habits. There are times when I’m like ‘Oh no, I’ve turned into my dad’ in a bad way and then there are times when I’m like ‘Oh I’ve become my dad’ but in a good way. It happens all the time.”

I want to be remembered as… “encouraging of curiosity, because sometimes I want to teach my kids a lesson, but instead of just giving it to them, I feel a bit better to have them ask questions. So, lifelong curiosity”.

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“It’s insane the pressures that mothers have on them to be everything to everyone”

Aun Koh

46, Entrepreneur, Founder, Straits Clan, and Chairman, Pangdemonium Theatre

Aun is one of those rare dads who effortlessly combines his passions with the art of parenting; and his children, aged seven and three, and nine months, are all the better for it. When he’s not posting drool-worthy photos of something he’s whipped up in the kitchen, he’s shouting praises for his wife, The Ate Group’s CEO and co-founder Tan Su-Lyn.

Do mums or dads have it tougher?

“Definitely the mums. My wife has a full-time job, looks after the kids, and deals with a new baby! It’s insane the pressures they have on them to be everything, but we get applause when we do one thing, which is nice, but it’s important to take care of your wife. You have to be constantly planning date nights and little treats for her. Take the kids away for a weekend and say, ‘Here’s a weekend for yourself to read a book.’ She’ll love you.”

What advice do you have for budding fathers?

“Take your time when it comes to having kids. My wife and I waited 10 years, which is a bit too long, but the time you spend as a married couple – when you can travel and enjoy yourselves – is really important because you need to know that when you do have kids, you’re not going to be able to enjoy as many things as you want to. You need to be ready to nest.”

What do you hate about being a father?

“I feel very embarrassed that I hated the diaper-changing part of it. You get used to handling poop, but it’s not fun. What I really hate is when I lose my temper at my own kids, and that happens as they get older and older, more often, because they push every button you have to sort of test you and you start to feel like a failure because they have actually won. They get you to a point where you actually go nuts. You have to basically leave the room, tag your wife in, and say I can’t deal with this right now – and you hate yourself for those moments.”

How has your relationship with your father affected your parenting style?

“My dad clearly loved my brother and me, but like many Asian parents, love didn’t come through touchy-feely, emotional connectedness. It was about educating you in culture and exposing you to things and intellectually trying to stimulate you. It was a very interesting experience, especially growing up in the US where you have a lot of touchy-feely parents giving out hugs, and you’re like, ‘Where’s mine?’. But you could tell there was love there. The irony is both my father and my mother are completely different grandparents than they were parents. They are much more emotionally connected with their grandkids than they were with us.”

I want to be remembered as…“fun, because I think creativity and play is important; supportive, and strict. I think you need to create boundaries and parameters. You can let them have freedom, but you also need to set rules so that they become responsible people”.