Does parenthood spell the end of couplehood? Not necessarily, opined Kenny Toh from The Coaching Academy and The Institute of Advanced Parentology. In fact, the father of two sons, aged 12 and 10 years old respectively, felt that parenthood takes couplehood to a new level.
“Parenthood is a journey we go through together as a couple,” said Kenny. “Having children doesn’t stop you from having an active lifestyle as a couple, it just takes you in a new direction.”
"The Pursuit of Parenthyood" by Mr Kenny Toh
For instance, you can still travel overseas, engage in sports like jogging or cycling, or picnic at the beach; and include your children in your favorite activities. Often, children can add a new dimension of fun and adventure to your life and bring you to new places, as Kenny discovered from his personal experience.
“My eldest son is a football fan. Because of him, I got to learn more about football as we watch football matches together. He’s brought me to a different world; a world I would not have experienced by myself because I was never into football,” said Kenny.
Kenny, who coaches parents on how to approach parenting and parenthood, noted that one of the biggest fears couples and would-be parents have, is how their lifestyle will change after having a baby.
Just as learning a new skill will take time and practice, he advised that couples make an effort to practise caring for their newborn. With more practice, comes competence. And with competence, comes confidence.
“I’ve never handled a newborn before. The first one was my son,” said Kenny, before adding with a laugh, “During my wife’s confinement period, I was the only one who bathed the baby because we didn’t trust anyone else to do it. But because of that, I became very good at it (bathing the baby).”
Kenny was speaking on “The Pursuit of Parenthyood” at Maybe Baby’s Hot Date @ the Movies, held on 23 October 2010 at Orchard Cineleisure.
The talk was preceded by a panel discussion which saw Kenny joining celebrity Edmund Chen and Maybe Baby’s resident bloggers and couple, Dannie Cho and Tan Yi Lin, in sharing their experiences about parenthood.
Edmund, who has been married to fellow celebrity Xiang Yun for 21 years, stressed that couples should continue to keep the romance alive after parenthood.
The couple has a 20-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. “We still court each other, even now, after 21 years,” shared Edmund.
He added that during the 21 years, they’ve have had their fair share of challenges as a couple. They had to make some sacrifices in their careers when they had their first child.
Selene and Joseph with Edmund
Just as he and Xiang Yun have overcome their difficulties with faith, sincerity and commitment, Edmund believes other couples can do the same too.
While Edmund and Kenny had children soon after getting hitched, others, such as Maybe Baby bloggers Dannie and Yi Lin, have found their parenthood journey to be more challenging than they thought.
The couple has been trying for a baby “off and on” for some years. Having recently gone through a failed IVF attempt, both have come to realize that conceiving a baby is a process that takes time.
As they ready themselves for their next attempt at parenthood, Dannie and Yi Lin advise fellow couples who have difficulty conceiving to seek treatment early.
Agreeing, Kenny added that beyond seeking medical advice from their gynecologists, couples should also adjust their mindset in preparation for parenthood. Most importantly, couples need to recognize that parenthood does not mean devoting themselves 24/7 to their children.
More importantly, couples must learn to let go, and let other people, such as grandparents, relatives and friends, take care of the children once in a while, so they can have some couple time together.
His sentiments are echoed by Stewart Tan, 32 and his wife, Ruth Chin, 30. The couple has been married for two years and has a one-year-old daughter. Thanks to Stewart’s parents, who helped to babysit their daughter, the couple was able to take time off attend the talk.
“We make it a point to set aside couple time at least once a month. Fortunately for us, my parents are able to help babysit our daughter, so this allows us to take some time out as a couple.” said Stewart.
While Ruth appreciates the valuable couple time, she admitted that she does feel guilty about leaving her daughter with her in-laws in order to enjoy herself.
“When we go out together, I do feel guilty about leaving her at home. But I also recognize that it’s important for us to take time for ourselves. When we come out and have a good time, we go back home feeling more relaxed and are able to be better parents,” she added with a smile.
Stewart and Ruth are among a group of lucky couples who can rely on their parents for childcare help. But what happens if both sets of grandparents are busy working?
Stewart and Ruth with baby girl Chloe
Wu Jia Hui and his wife, Ho Wei Ting, both 29, have been married for a year but are hesitant to have a baby largely because of this reason.
“We don’t feel safe putting the kid in infant care and we don’t want to engage a helper either because having an outsider stay with us is an intrusion on our privacy,” said Wei Ting.
Agreeing, Jia Hui added, “It’s not so much about the cost of having a child because providing basic care is not expensive. The question is: how can we take care of the child without compromising the quality of childcare? That’s our main concern.”
There are no easy answers to Jia Hui and Wei Ting’s dilemma, but as Kenny concluded in his talk, “Having a baby is part and parcel of the cycle of life. Your parents made a decision to have a baby, that’s why you are here today. As animals, we are all wired to procreate, just that some humans choose not. So the question today is not what motivates you to have a baby, but what is stopping you from not?”
WHAT MAYBE BABY PARTICIPANTS SAID…
Tim, 31, soon-to-be father: It struck me when Kenny said that children are not an "interruption" to life's adventure, but are part and parcel of the adventure. I know life will drastically change in about nine month’s time…But I’ve learnt that it’s all a matter of our perception and how we manage our expectations regarding the situation, that makes all the difference.
Tim & soon-to-be mum, Mandy
Estar, 25, single: Having the panel discussion was good. It provided a more human perspective to parenthood. But I think more time could have been allocated as it was very brief, especially the sharing from Yilin. Her experience would have been valuable to the audience.
Zen, 31, trying for baby: Thanks Yilin for sharing her IVF journey. I’m glad that she shared about trying other options if conceiving naturally proved to be a challenge. Her sharing will also help some realise that they are not alone if they find it difficult to get pregnant…and that making babies take TIME! Thanks to I Love Children for organizing this event!