A special turning point
Mr Nor Nizar introduced himself as a “sahd”.
No, it’s not Hokkien for “cool” or “suave” but rather an acronym for his current vocation as a Stay-At-Home-Dad (SAHD).
Nizar, a tall and lean dad with boyish good looks was 40 when he married his Malaysia-born Chinese wife, Sharon Yeo, then 31, who converted to Islam after marriage.
Sharon stopped working during her pregnancy, and after childbirth, a domestic helper was engaged to support her recovery and help with the baby. The helper left shortly after and baby Mikaail was enrolled in a childcare centre.
Mikaail was unhappy at the centre, and it was then that Sharon suggested that Nizar stay home to look after their son. He had always been more adept at handling kids and she preferred working full-time. Nizar considered this seriously and decided to quit his job as a customer relations officer, to look after his 3-year-old son.
Reversal of roles – Challenges & satisfaction
This special domestic arrangement seems a “win-win”, with Dad and Mum playing their unique roles in doing what’s best for the family. Though the financial constraints remain real, they have learned to live within their means, tighten their purse-strings and to spend on what is necessary for Mikaail’s well-being. They do not travel much, but have been able to save for occasional trips to Malaysia.
Nizar enjoys looking after Mikaail. Father and son are extremely close and share an unusually deep affinity for each other.
Unfolding the masterpiece
Nizar’s motivation as a SAHD stems from his belief that children are God’s gifts. “My child is my responsibility, so I am going to take great care of him,” he says with pride.
Nizar’s parents were good providers but paid little attention to his educational progress and personal growth. Nizar’s own father, though a good communicator himself, had barely spoken to his son at home.
Nizar was determined to change things around. Armed with a resoundingly clear vision of the father he wants to be, he dedicates time and energy to guiding and teaching Mikaail how to learn, instilling strong values, character and honing the little boy’s leadership skills.
Daddy’s “5 Minute Parenting Activities” home manual
Nizar was enthusiastically picking up parenting skills, reading parenting articles and attending seminars even before he got married. He likens parenting to civil defence – where one must always be prepared.
He subscribes to the idea from Mr Dilip Mukerjea of Braindancing International that a parent does not “shape and mould” his child but rather “unfolds the masterpiece” that is already within.
Nizar has even compiled his own “5 Minute Parenting Activities” book of simple and fun activities that he and his son enjoy doing together.
Celebrating the ordinary every day
Never in a hurry, Nizar listens attentively, to discern his son’s thoughts and heart. He believes Mikaail benefits from him staying at home.
They walk to school together, and they talk; with father teaching son to observe his surroundings, in pausing to watch busy red ants eating a fly or wriggling earthworms unravelling in the morning rain.
Nizar believes that communication is to human relationships what water is to plants. An eager listener himself, he strongly believes that if parents fail to listen to the little stuff when their children are young, they are not going to be let in on the “big stuff” when their children are big.
Nizar is learning Chinese alongside Mikaail because he wants to understand the difficulties his boy faces, so as to be able to better motivate and encourage him more effectively.
The SAHD’s perspectives of his wife’s role & contributions
Nizar is grateful for his wife’s unwavering support.
He shared a parable from the Prophet’s teaching — “A child must always love and give to his mother, three times what he accords his father.”
Deeply mindful of his wife’s sacrifices and the risks to her health during pregnancy and childbirth he candidly acknowledges he can never beat his wife’s contributions. She is special in her own ways and can do things that he cannot.
He directs his son to Sharon whenever he needs his nails clipped, ointment applied and for other health issues in general. However, if Mikaail needs direction or entertainment, his Daddy-Buddy is always there!
Nizar flipped through multiple volumes of journals filled with illustrations, scribbles and yellowed newspaper cuttings and aptly cited this anonymous quote, “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.”
With a baby girl arriving soon, Nizar will only get busier. Yet, he cannot wait to continue his fulfilling fathering journey.
Nizar glances at Mikaail and quotes Confucius: “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it”.
It seems this Dad is not only “saht” or cool, but rather enlightened too.
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 15-04-2013
Categories: Dads' Stories