Geoffrey Chew first came into our radar when his daughter, Isabel, wrote about him last year in her entry in the DadsforLife Blog Contest for schoolchildren. Isabel wrote that her father was a solid emotional support to her, especially through her early years in school. She had a hard time with “no friends”, being bullied, falling grades and depression.
She could not understand her own emotions and actions, but through it all, Isabel credited her father with helping her emerge from her struggles. Often, he would sit with her, spending his time with her as she cried for hours, listening patiently as Isabel poured out her sorrows. Unsurprisingly, she concluded in her blog post, “You are the best a father can be next to GOD and you are awesome!”
With words like that, the DadsforLife Team went knocking on Geoffrey’s door to find out more about Isabel’s awesome dad.
Geoffrey himself is introspect about his abilities as a father. He states clearly that he and his wife, Irene, had one primary concern when they first became parents – to raise their children (his son, Isaac, 12, is in primary 6) to be God fearing. He told us that the bible and the values that it communicates shape his own views. The other thing that he makes very plain is that, for him, being a dad requires a huge hand from his wife Irene, the stay-at-home mother to his children.
Isabel, the Adventurer
He sees 13-year old Isabel as very creative and artistic, sensitive and intelligent, naturally introverted, yet adventurous. She isn’t afraid to take on the unknown and he lets on, smiling, “Isabel is a great example of the saying that you often see parts of yourself in your children. I’m most proud of her courage and perseverance.”
Isabel is a self-starter when it comes to taking on new things such as windsurfing (she was not even in her teens then). Once, Isabel related that while windsurfing out at sea, the weather took a turn for the worse, the winds picked up and blew her and her board towards a passing barge. It was a hazardous situation. Cold, tired, unable to manage the strong winds she started to cry and pray when somehow, she found the strength to sail her way back to safe waters, and eventually, to shore. Geoffrey added, “This incident really makes me very proud of Isabel. Knowing that she can draw on a strength within – is what gives me the greatest pride and assurance as a father.”
Isaac, Miracle Baby and Inventor Extraordinaire
The name means ‘he laughs’, and Geoffrey tells us that Isaac lives up to his name as he is humorous, warm, and a ‘real people person’.
Isaac went through a struggle with life, as his body was stricken by an intestine-eating bug at 2 weeks of age. He had to spend 2 months in hospital and Geoffrey says, “For Isaac to go through a struggle like that and survive, we only appreciate the preciousness of his life even more.”
The father’s appreciation for his son is obvious as he tell us that Isaac has a talent for invention. Taking a break from our interview, he hunts around for a bow-and-arrow that Isaac had made, with no success. After a few minutes, Geoffrey calls out to his son and they continue the search together.
The invention is finally found, and we were impressed by a contraption made from ice cream sticks, string, a drinking straw and satay skewers. Isaac gives a brief demonstration and the contraption proves to be impressively accurate and could definitely be used to rid the family home of lizards and such. As we look around the house, it is also obvious that Isaac has been busy with another invention, this time he tells us that he is working on a grappling hook, reminiscent of a device that Batman himself would be familiar with.
Geoffrey Chew, Everyday Dad
On his own performance as a father, Geoffrey emphasizes that he is far from perfect and relies on his wife to make things work.
He admits to sometimes snapping at Isabel, especially when he has to juggle other problems on his mind, and that “this brings about moments of intense regret…”. He tells us that it is Irene who will give him feedback and help him regain his perspective as tries his best to set things right.
He undertakes to being there for Isabel with every effort he can muster. He has personally witnessed her going through her toughest emotional battles although his work is an obstacle to the amount of time he can spend with his family.
He enrols his children in good enrichment courses because he says that they are beneficial and gives them the opportunity to socialize.
Recently, Geoffrey took his family on a holiday to Cambodia, where they had the chance to spend time in a children’s home in the outskirts of Phnom Penh. His children enjoyed making friends with the children there and they got to see, touch and smell for themselves the simple and sometimes squalid conditions where the local kids lived. It turned out to be a positive learning experience for the family that left both Isaac and Isabel keen to visit their new Cambodian friends again.
We know that Geoffrey is a dad who will be there for his children through thick and thin; a listening ear, a helping hand, encourager, buddy, teacher, guidance counsellor and friend.
Check our web gallery of our DadsforLife ‘Dads Come in all Shapes and Sizes’ contest, including Isabel and Isaac Chew’s blog posts about their awesome dad here: Voices of Children.
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 02-06-2011
Categories: Dads' Stories