Millennial Fathers – Our New Superstars

Since time immemorial, children have always been a mother’s domain. As the star of the family, she not only took care of them, she also decided what was best for them. A father’s role has always been a supporting one. If a family was a cake, he would be the frosting and sprinkles.

Millennial Fathers on Being Involved

Now, millennial fathers are turning the tide. No longer content to stand on the side-lines, they are the new co-stars in the family model. This Father’s Day, we pay tribute to these amazing dads who are challenging old-school norms and choosing to connect with their children at a deeper level. Assistant Manager, Benjamin Rajendram shares his motivations, “…you look at parents nowadays who are parenting teens or adults and they would say ‘I wish I had done this.’ So, these are the moments I don’t want to miss. I try to be around all the time and I am loving it.”

Millennial fathers are aware of the importance of building that relationship with their children, as Hotelier, Xanthus Kong adds, “According to studies which I have read online, it says that 15 minutes of time spent with your child is better than sitting at your couch, watching television while your child is next to you. Interaction between you and your child is more important.”

Indeed, the research supports how fathers positively influence their children’s development in many ways – socially, emotionally, and academically. Children whose fathers are involved in their lives grow up to be smarter. Not only do they have higher IQs, they also experience fewer behavioural problems in school. They have better relationships with their peers and are more popular. They are also less likely to smoke or get into serious trouble.

Fathers can have a profound effect on the lives of both their sons and daughters. Boys are more likely to enjoy books for pleasure when their fathers spent time reading with them. Girls with involved fathers are more assertive and self-reliant. They also perform better academically and athletically.

Millennial Fathers on Child Rearing and Housework

More than just spending time with their children, millennial fathers are also handling the nitty gritty of daily parenting. They are not afraid to get their hands dirty. They will change the diapers, prepare the milk, bathe the children, and pitch in with the housework.

Finance Executive, Muhammad Nasrul Afiq Hamzah says, “For the housework, we do it together. We mop, we vacuum, it’s teamwork. What I like to do every morning, is to wake up, grab my baby and change his diapers.”

Benjamin concurs, “I think nowadays millennial dads are hands on. It’s not like those days, when you come home and your wife does everything. There are women who still do that but I don't expect my wife to do that.”

Millennial fathers believe that parenting is a team effort. They don’t help out because they are forced to, they help because they choose to. Sometimes, they even look forward to it. Benjamin, who has been preparing the milk for his son ever since he was born, reveals, “I clean his diapers, no problem, washing him up and bathing him. I enjoy bathing him.”

Millennial Fathers on Getting Advice and Information

If a millennial father needs help, he can check many different sources, whether it is asking for advice from his partner, parents and friends, or searching for answers on the web. Benjamin’s “go to” for information is his wife and the internet. “It is our dictionary and manual for life,” he says.

Nasrul prefers to get help from his parents. “They are more experienced,” he rationalises. “For example, when my baby has a fever, we need to know what to do immediately. We cannot simply do anything. We need traditional tips. Parents would advise on what to do.”

While advice from friends and the internet is great, Xanthus also believes that parents need to make their own evaluations. “For example,” he says, “When you have your first child, you have no idea what you need to buy. We need to research and ask ourselves - ‘do you really need it for your baby? How long would it last?’ There are so many options in the market and when we buy unnecessarily, it would go to waste.”

Mr Tan Wee Keng, CEO of Tollyjoy Corporation, agrees that millennial fathers are a lot more resourceful when it comes to getting information. “Today, parents and children have a range of IT devices that could go online and check brands and get opinions from friends of friends. They don't have to rely on mothers-in-law or parents for information.”

Millennial Fathers on Decision Making and Discipline

Millennial fathers know that parenting is hard and that the responsibility should be shared. They believe that no one parent should bear the burden of making all the decisions, as Xanthus says, “This is not a one-person thing, it’s teamwork.”

If there is a big decision to be made, millennial fathers will talk it out with their partners. They know that two heads are better than one. “We think further when we decide together and we make better choices as well,” Nasrul explains.

Even discipline is handled differently. “Back in those days, we are told what to do and we are not allowed to ask many questions,” recalls Xanthus. With his own son, Xanthus believes in talking things through. “Even though my child is 1 ½ years old and he does not know how to speak yet, we do make it a point to really explain to him and talk to him.”

Millennial fathers are not afraid to deviate from the style of parenting they grew up with and will firmly tell grandparents not to interfere. “Especially when it comes to parenting, we would say to our parents that we have our own way to do parenting with our child,” Xanthus agrees.

Millennial Fathers on Technology

Millennials are some of the greatest influencers in the use of technology. They have paved a new culture in the way we interact with it. Despite living in a world filled with technology, millennial fathers are conscious of the importance of spending time away from it. Especially when it comes to their children, millennial fathers are setting limits on the amount of time their children watch TV or play with a gadget.

Millennial fathers know it is unrealistic for their children to grow up in the absence of technology so they counter it by investing in a balance lifestyle. They encourage their children to engage with old-fashioned toys and play physical games like “hide and seek”. They also actively schedule time in natural environments, like the park or the beach, because they know that their children need to connect with nature for optimal growth and development.

They know how vital it is to inculcate these healthy habits from an early age because the disconnect with nature is continually increasing with ever-expanding concrete cities. “I think there is nothing like having quality time in the traditional way. We go to park and play with trees. This is something we see less and less these days,” says Benjamin.

Millennial Fathers on Making the Transition to Fatherhood

Life as a parent is a completely different world to one without children. Millennial fathers know that and are quick to embrace the changes. From a new circle of friends to family friendly places, Benjamin says, “I think having a son outweighs what I gave up.”

Millennial fathers know that being a parent means having to be responsible for another life that depends on them. They readily give up favourite activities they would engage in before having children. “I used to be a racer and it is a dangerous sport, so I had to stop to take care of myself and be there for my baby,” Nasrul explains.

Most of all, millennial fathers are comfortable with their emotions and feelings towards their families. Xanthus confesses that having a son makes him want to be a better person. Benjamin adds that the purity and faith of a child has taught him about trust. Nasrul adds, “I love my child so much. When I see my son, I can see myself in him and I think about how my parents took care of me. I love my parents more now. When I see my baby, I want to become someone better.”

Even though they agree that fatherhood is an incredibly challenging role, millennial fathers are enjoying the challenges and the steep learning curve. For them, the rewards of being a father far outweigh the difficulties of being one.

Millennial Fathers on Sharing Parenting Advice

These are some parting words of wisdom from a few of our millennial fathers to other fathers and fathers-to-be:

Benjamin advises, “Love your wife. Your child is looking at you. How you treat your wife, that is how your son will treat girls in the future. The way you speak to your wife, that is how your child will speak to his wife. To me, that is the best advice. As much as I have the best time with my wife, I show him how a woman should be treated.”

Xanthus adds, “…be sincere and listen to your wife. Know that what she says is true and give her the support she needs. This is not a one-person thing, it’s teamwork. Do things not because you are forced to but because you want to do it.”

Most importantly, Nasrul concludes, “Trust. Trust each other.”