Fatherhood - A Lifelong Journey (Part 1)
With Father's Day approaching, Trinitarian Online interviewed our pastors and ministers on their fatherhood journeys. Here's the first installment in the two-part series:
First-time father – Brother Jonathan Foo
1. Share with us your feelings when you first became a dad?
When our daughter, Hildy, was born, I recall feeling thoroughly exhausted even though it was my wife, Charlotte, who had done all the work. She was in labor for about 10 hours, so by the time we saw Hildy, there was much anticipation and excitement to “man-up” and “step in” to the role to be the best dad I could be.
2. Has your perception of the role of a father changed after you became a dad?
Definitely! I always joke, telling others that I’ve heard dads tell me parenting is tough, but they never told me that it would be this tough. I started to realize the extent of sacrifice and the demands of parenting—especially when I had to put my own needs aside (such as hunger and tiredness) to attend to both my daughter and wife’s needs first.
3. What were some of the memorable moments of your journey as a dad?
Hildy is around five months old now. Every time she looks at me and smiles like she recognizes me is a precious father-daughter moment. When I get close enough, she likes to put both hands on my face and playfully pull off my glasses—it’s really a touching moment for me!
4. What are some of the concerns you have for your child as a father?
As much as parents can try to do our best to nurture their kids by choosing the right growing environment, routines, school, and more, I’m starting to realize that there are a thousand things that I cannot control. Some genuine concerns are whether Hildy will grow up well as a person and as a faithful child of God!
5. What advice would you give to a first-time father?
Brace yourself because you have no idea what’s coming! I’m still discovering what it means to be a dad but on a more serious note, I would say that one should not be too worried about “being ready” because the truth is you can never be too ready. Instead, be assured that because you’ve overcome past challenges together with your wife, you are as ready as you need to be to lead your new family forward. Be open to learn and adapt as you grow into your role. Don’t let the new demands of life prevent you from communicating your concerns and needs with your wife, seeking help from others, and coming before the Lord in prayer!
6. What’s the best advice “on being a father” your dad has ever given/modeled for you?
My dad modeled what it means to put our needs above his own through small but consistent acts of service. His advice for me is to live an honest life as I grow in this journey, to be responsible for my family, and to fear God in all that I do!
7. What other roles do you play – Ministerial Staff, Dad and ____?
Father with toddler – Brother Chong Lin
1. What are some of the concerns you have for your child as a father?
My immediate concern for my child is very practical and relates to my child’s health and development. When my wife, Giselle was pregnant with our son Kaleb, there were health concerns that could be life threatening and also a high risk of premature birth. It was a rare time in life where l was worried about health and even life and death. Thank God that my wife was well despite some health scares and my son was kept in the womb till 37 weeks and was delivered at an acceptable weight of 2.44kg. But concerns of allergies and skin sensitivity continues to impact his health. It’s a journey of trust and faith in God’s healing and protection.
2. What advice would you give fellow dads with toddlers?
Trinity has helped me to form a deep conviction to trust God and look to Him for wisdom and strength. I also have the prayer support of the church. I remember my son’s first health scare came during a prayer meeting in church, but God sent a rhema word to encourage me right in that prayer meeting, that He is in control. That day, God strengthened my faith and trust in Him.
While there are many uncertainties in raising a child, I would encourage fellow dads to entrust your family and child to the Lord. God is always faithful, and He loves you and your child more than you could ever do.
3. What’s the best advice “on being a father” your dad has ever given/modeled for you?
My dad is a man of few words but I caught some important values and lessons through his life. One of the best examples I caught from my father is his diligence in work which reminds me of God’s Word that those who are diligent will be fruitful! (Proverbs 14:23)
4. What other roles do you play – Ministerial Staff, Dad and ____?
To my wife, I am her best friend, encourager and listener.
To my child, I am his protector yet encourager to take steps of faith and at times…risks.
To my biological family, I am the youngest in the family and I enjoy being taken care of mostly.
To people around me, I sure hope I am their helpful friend who brings joy to their lives through my cold jokes.
Father with three girls – Pastor David Sashi
1. Give us a glimpse of your younger days. Before you were married, how did you try to make an impression on the ladies who caught your eye?
Honestly, I would consider myself very shy to make the first move. When I look at my peers back then, they were bolder and had so much swag that I honestly don’t think I have. But when a girl did catch my eye, I would try to find opportunities to interact with them. But nothing of those cheesy pickup lines or witty conversation starters.
2. What advice you would give your three girls in fending off boys like your younger self?
Run baby run! Kidding. I have told my girls, “Your dad is going to be very involved when it comes to boys and dating. I will make it known to them [the boys] that ‘I have a very special set of skills…’” In all seriousness, I do believe the conversation about boys and what girls should look for are important and these conversations should happen with parents. And every so often in little ways, I do tell them there will come a time they will talk about dating and such. What Amy, my wife, and I do now is to tell them about how we got together and how we had our own interesting journeys. As they grow older, we intend to have more of these conversations, so that in due time, there will be a value-set that will guide them to fend them from the younger David Sashi Johns.
3. What are some of the concerns you have for them as a father?
Allow me to reframe “the concerns” to “the desires” that I have for them as a father and how I enable them to see it.
As a Christian father, my greatest desire is to see them walking in the ways of God and choosing Jesus as their own. This goes beyond me taking them to church or sending them to camps. I realize how important it is for them to see the reality of the faith on a day-to-day basis, at home and in my life. What that means very practically, is helping them to see God in every aspect of life – from meal times, movies we watch together, willingness to admit our faults and mistakes (myself included), and our need for God to help us grow daily. I model for them respect for the individual through the words I use to speak to, and of people. The world that we live in is getting more crowded and noisier, and with that, the potential to miss the still small voice of God.
My other desire for my girls is that they will always be in a posture of growth and to help others along the way. Applying this to their academic journey, for the two elder ones who are in primary school, I remind them that they are not in competition with anyone else. The goal is to keep improving. If you fail, learn where you went wrong and try again. If they fail again but it’s an improvement, I celebrate the improvement and spur them to keep learning and improving. This is not something just for academics, but a posture that I desire for them in their own character growth. We often pit ourselves against others and miss the mark simply because we are not them. So, my reminder to my girls is to grow to be more like Christ and who God has made them to be, and keep their eyes on Him.
4. How do you handle sibling rivalry and fairness?
I feel that my parenting style has evolved from when I had one, then two and now three children. And with each, there was a certain shift in the way I handled situations and I can only imagine that from the perspective of the other child, it may seem “unfair.” I try to ensure fairness in the principles we adopt when handling situations. Between Amy and I, we ensure there is consistency between us. As far as sibling rivalry is concerned, I must say it rarely shows up with my girls. (PRAISE THE LORD!)
5. What’s the best advice “on being a father” your dad has ever given/modelled for you?
Best advice was how passionate my dad is for the Lord – not in words alone. His actions spoke and still speak loudly. I’d hear him praying in the middle of the night or early in the morning. He was a cell leader, opened the home to host cell, served in whatever capacity he could in church. He encouraged and made it possible for my siblings (eldest brother and elder sis) and me to be involved in serving by sending us to church for various activities. That would be the best advice that has been modeled for me and I desire to do the same for my kids (and grandkids as the Lord blesses in time.)
6. What other roles do you play – Pastor, Dad and ____?
DEFINITELY Prankster! Always having fun pranking and scaring the kids (and Amy) and they do the same to me!
Stay tuned for the second part of the interviews and hear how a father with teenagers handles conflict, how a father with adult children makes up for lost time, and how a father's role evolved when he became a grandfather!
Reflect & Respond
How can you appreciate your father this Father's Day?
What can you thank God as our Father in heaven for?