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Photo credit: YOUTHOPIA/SHANNON KUAN

How my stay-at-home father brought the family closer together

Wanting to strengthen his relationship with me and my brother, my father would find activities for us to bond over.

Shannon Kuan
Shannon Kuan

Weird talents include playing the violin, but with a ukulele and a clothes hanger.


Published: 17 June 2022, 4:01 PM

As Father’s Day draws near, I’m reminded of my father’s role in my life and how he took on the seemingly unconventional role in the family — being a house-husband.

In most households where only one parent is working to provide for the family, it is traditionally the wives who are seen staying at home and caring for the children. 

However, when my younger brother was diagnosed with dyslexia in Primary One, my father decided to quit his full-time IT sales job.

 

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My father wanted to provide my brother with as much support as he could in his formative years. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHANNON KUAN

 

Since my mother held a more stable career position then, my father sacrificed his career and has been a house-husband for a decade since.

As a stay-at-home father, he has shown care for us in ways he knew how. And through his efforts, the family was brought closer together.

Having more time to care for his children

While my father’s main reason for staying home was to support my brother, he also ​​intentionally carved out time to help me with my schoolwork. 

I’ve always admired my father for being able to tutor us given how long he has been out of the school system.

With my mother working a full-time job, she found it hard to afford us with much time and attention. Thankfully my father was around to provide for our needs, so she was able to focus at work and feel at ease if she had to work late.

My father would always drive my brother and I to-and-fro places we needed to be.

I vividly remember an unquestioned tradition my father and I had, where he wouldn’t simply just fetch me home from my tuition classes once they ended. 

Instead, he would buy me a herbal egg or an assortment of candy and bring me to the nearby ice skating rink to watch people skate.

 

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Knowing that I dislike egg yolks, my father would let me have only the egg white. PHOTO CREDIT: DASHU83 VIA FREEPIK

 

Picking me up from my ballet classes also had a similar routine, where he would buy me chrysanthemum tea from the vending machine. We would walk around the community centre until I was done with the drink.

Till date, I have not questioned his exact reasons for doing so. But I suspect he wanted to make sure I had something to look forward to after every stressful tuition session and gruelling dance practice.

Even now, my father still offers to drive me and my brother to places we need to be at, rain or shine.

Planning food trips and bonding activities

Interestingly, despite being a stay-at-home dad he prefers eating out for meals. He would often take the initiative to plan for food hunts and outings.

Going out for family meals initiated by my father allows me to put away my screens and actually talk to my parents. My father enjoys engaging us in conversations over interesting topics such as trending celebrity news and our personal life updates.

 

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On days where I was too busy to head out for a proper meal, my father would still buy me a quick snack to destress from school and work. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHANNON KUAN

 

While the family is too busy to head out for meals every single day now, my dad would still ensure that the family eats together at least twice a week.

Finding (interesting) alternative ways to financially provide for the family

A rather huge concern the family had when my mother became the sole-breadwinner was our financial situation.

In order to help alleviate the financial burden, my father would find ways to earn some money. These included taking on temporary part-time jobs like being an exam invigilator.

Recently, he discovered another way to earn small amounts of money while having fun in a Gen Z way — livestreaming on TikTok.

 

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Much to my surprise, my father has over a thousand followers on TikTok. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHANNON KUAN

 

From time to time, he would livestream himself singing, strumming on the guitar, or playing Call of Duty.

Despite my brother and I cringing at the thought of our friends finding his account, the fact that he is putting in the effort to relate to our generation is rather endearing.

 

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My father would sometimes excitedly share in our family group chat about his TikTok livestream earnings. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/SHANNON KUAN

 

While my brother would often joke that our family would be wealthier if my father hadn’t quit his job, the family holds no true displeasure towards him for his choices.

Even now, my father continues to support my brother’s learning journey by helping him with his polytechnic projects and essays.

It took me a rather long time to realise that if it weren’t for my father being a house-husband, our relationship dynamic would have been so much different. 

The effort he puts in to connect with us over car rides, shared meals and tutoring sessions is the reason why we share a close bond till this day. I will forever be grateful for that.


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