Six Hong Kong Dads Tell Us the Best Things About Fatherhood
We always remember the greatness of motherly love: they do physically bring us into the world, but let’s not forget that dads are one half of the equation too. In honor of Father’s Day, we talk to six Hong Kong dads for their insights about parenting.
Roger De Leon, 33, designer/restaurateur/DJ.
Father to a 3-year-old boy.
“It’s important to keep things interesting and fun.”
What does the role of dad entail? Creativity. It's really important to keep things interesting and fun. Hong Kong can be a difficult place to keep kids entertained (for cheap), so a big part of being a parent is scoping out the best parks and patches of grass to hang out at.
How does that differ from mom’s role? It's really a team effort, but mom is much better at planning and keeping things scheduled. I'm more of an off-the-cuff, deal-with-it-when-we-need-to sort of parent. I don't think those roles are intrinsic to every mom and dad though, they are more personality traits.
What's the best lesson you’ve learned about being a dad? Patience. It's very easy to react to a child. If they do something “wrong,” your first response may be to yell at them. But it's important to realize they are constantly learning, and trying to differentiate between right and wrong. So a lot of it is them testing the waters and looking for a reaction. If you get upset every time things don't go according to plan, everyone's going to be tense.
What do you wish for Father's Day? We normally keep things pretty simple on these sorts of holidays. Maybe a nice brunch or home-cooked meal just to show appreciation to the other parent for their hard work.
Rex Leung, 27, business development manager.
Father to a 3-month-old girl.
“You’ll have to love your wife even more than before... you don’t want her to feel the love is now halved.”
What does the role of dad entail? Being a dad in Hong Kong, you often have to be the breadwinner, while also being a role model for your little one. But it’s not just about the kids: You’ll have to love your wife even more than before, because you don’t want her to feel the love is now halved.
How does that differ from mom’s role? My wife still wakes up when the baby cries in the middle of the night, but I stopped after the third night. I believe part of it is because moms have a miraculous connection with their babies—not surprising since they have been inside their tummies for nine months. Mom's duty is definitely 10 times... no, 100 times tougher than dad's in my opinion. Just the breastfeeding part is already a nightmare, and I feel bad not being able to help at all.
What's the best lesson you’ve learned aboutbeing a dad? I’d say how to strike a work-life balance: Work has always been my top priority, but now I'm learning to shift it a little. After all, nothing is more important than family.
What do you wish for Father's Day? Simply to be with my baby daughter, my wife, and enjoy a relaxing day off together.
Bob Adamson, 50s, UNESCO chair professor.
Father to a 20-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son.
“I’ve never aspired to be a perfect role model. Instead, I think of myself as a human role model who tries his best.”
What does the role of dad entail? To be there for my kids as much as possible. We used to spend a lot of time together before my kids flew to the States last year. But even now as we live half a world from each other, we manage to Skype every day; and when that doesn’t feel enough, I fly across the globe to see them in person.
How does that differ from mom’s role? Dads and moms share different domains of parenting. My wife and I are like a team. For instance, I might not be not very satisfying when it comes to shopping with my daughter—I can’t really tell the difference between a Kate Spade and a Michael Kors bag. That part goes to my wife. Instead, I talk to her about our family history and her university studies—things we’re both interested in.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned about being a dad? Making a connection between being a dad and being myself, or, rather, how to integrate “dadness” into “Bobness.” I’ve never aspired to be a perfect role model. Instead, I think of myself as a human role model who tries his best. I want my kids to know their limitations, and that even grownups like me have human frailty.
What do you wish for Father’s Day? I’ve never asked for a gift—them being my children is already a gift. If I have to choose something for Father’s Day, I’d want to play board games with them. It’s the happiest way to spend the day—together.
Mike Poon, 38, works in the IT industry.
Father to a 4-year-old boy.
“I think part of my job is to complement what mom does.”
What does the role of dad entail? I think being a dad in Hong Kong involves a lot of disciplining, and I believe that’s got a lot to do with Chinese culture. Although we traditionally associate a father’s role to be more strict and serious, I try my best to learn to express my love and be a caring dad at the same time. I try not to restrict him too much when it comes to making choices. I don’t want to always be the Dad that says “yes” to this and “no” to that.
How does that differ from mom’s role? I think part of my job is to complement what mom does, and help her out as much as I can. My wife serves a more domestic role; she takes care of my son’s daily needs while I focus more on nurturing my son and paying attention to his behavior. I do think that being a mom is a lot tougher, because mom takes care of him in a more diverse way. She does a lot more of the work than I do!
What's the best lesson you’ve learned about being a dad? As a Christian, I think the greatest lesson I learned, and am still learning from fatherhood is the way God loves His children in the way I love my son. I also learned so much about being the head of a family, to make decisions and to take the family’s responsibilities into my own hands.
What do you wish for Father's Day? Nothing special really. I am not a big fan of celebrations. I’d rather keep it simple and just spend it like another ordinary day. A simple dinner with my family will do for this Father’s Day.
Faisal Mohammed, 37, sourcing & supply chain manager.
Father to a 5-year-old boy.
“It’s easy to just tell them what and what not to do, but sometimes you’ve just got to be the biggest kid and experience things with them.”
What does the role of dad entail? It means being the disciplinarian, adviser, best buddy and playmate of our kid at the same time. They have enough stress outside and it’s our job to balance that out. Our usual weekend would be swimming, playing rugby, trying new things or just being outdoors.
How does that differ from mom’s role? I want to give credit to my wife for teaching and helping my son with all his school work everyday. As parents, we all have a part in moulding our children. We usually play bad cop, good cop. Me being the latter most of the time makes it easier!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned about being a dad? I’ve learned to be more understanding. It’s easy to just tell them what and what not to do, but sometimes you’ve just got to be the biggest kid around and experience things with them. That way, they learn through play and get personal insights from you. I myself enjoy running marathons so I signed us up for a father-and-son short distance run this month.
What do you wish for Father’s Day? Father’s Day is always a family day. I usually get to choose the activity on that day. And for this year, we might just go hiking—so I wish it won’t rain!
What About the Puppy Parents?
We haven’t forgotten about you or your fur babies. We spoke to Billy Lau, an art director in Hong Kong, about his pups Gor Gor and Sai Lo, who were both adopted three years ago.
What does the role of a responsible dog dad entail? Many Hong Kongers don’t understand dog behaviour so I think one of biggest responsibilities is to present a positive image when we are out with them. Even with our cute little ones, I still hear parents say to their child “Don’t go near it, it’ll bite you.” There is a whole generation of children who think all dogs bite, and run away at first sight. The point is that we should educate our children better on how to interact with all animals and expose them to nature as much as possible.
How do you divide the responsibilities up between yourself and your partner? We are both freelancers so we are quite flexible. I walk them when she has to work, and vice versa. We also groom and bathe them ourselves and it’s a big operation. We seem to be doing an alright job! After the trimming, I put on my bathing suit and sing to them as I bathe them in the shower. Maybe it helps to soothe them, maybe not, who knows? But they don’t seem to mind my singing.
What's the best lesson you’ve learned about being a dog owner? Acceptance. Acceptance of who they are as dogs with their own personalities. Of course, they shouldn’t misbehave, but I have learned that I should not impose my expectations on them. Sometimes they miss the pee pad, sometimes they pull on the leash. They are dogs, not people. To an extent, this applies to how I treat other people: Not to judge too quickly because you never know what their story is.
What do you wish for Father's Day? My wish for Father’s Day is for people to adopt rather than shop. Both of our fur babies are mutts, rescued from breeders. They are not the stereotypical cute little soft-haired poodles: Gor Gor has an underbite, Sai Lo has missing teeth. They look scruffy, but they are healthy, happy, and we bring each other joy. What more can you ask for? I’d like to take them swimming this Father’s Day. Then maybe some doggy ice-cream.