DAD SAYS My late wife raised our children right

Centre for Fathering chairman Richard Hoon says that making the effort to connect with his daughters changed his life.

DAD SAYS My late wife raised our children rightMain

“My late wife always had a huge influence on my parenting philosophy as a dad, which helped me enjoy an extremely close relationship with our three girls. One of the earlier things she advised me to do — when the girls were in their teens — was to ‘date’ my daughters individually.

I was hesitant at first because it would mean having to spend thrice the amount of time with them — precious time I didn’t have as I needed to focus on my business to support the family. But after hearing my own responses to several questions my wife asked, I realised I only knew my daughters superficially. I didn’t know who their teacher was or what their favourite books were.

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So, I started doing simple things together with each of my girls. It could be taking walks in the park, watching movies and eating dinner together. As time wore on, I realised all that mattered to them was that I was available for them — my kids equated love with TIME.

DAD SAYS My late wife raised our children right5

Now that I’m 60, each of them are taking turns to ‘date’ me. A couple of months ago, my youngest daughter, Eve, told me to clear my schedule for my birthday because she was taking me out. For over 12 hours, we had lunch, watched a movie and had a candlelit dinner with a bottle of wine and just chatted. I was touched that she had applied leave to spend a day with her dad! Parents also equate love with TIME, too!

In early 2016, my wife was really ill with breast cancer for six months. Because she was going in and out of the hospital, we decided to bring her home, as we didn’t want her to be stuck in the hospital environment. So, we converted the family room into a fully air-conditioned room on the ground floor of our home to accommodate her hospital bed. 

“As time wore on, I realised all that mattered to them was that I was available for them — my kids equated love with TIME.”

My two elder girls quit their jobs and moved back home — my eldest daughter was in Melbourne, while my second daughter was based in Sweden at that time —  to care for their mother full time. When I saw my three girls in the room with her, I thought, life has reached a full-circle. There they were in the room, cuddling their mother as she lay on the bed totally dependent on their loving care.

My wife, who had lost all her hair by then, had to be intubated so that she could breathe because of her deteriorating condition. Her cancer had metastasised to her skin, so she had bandages all over her body and she had to wear diapers. Oftentimes, the girls would climb into her bed, sit next to her and hug her like she used to with them when they were babies. She had looked after them and tended to all their needs, and now, the roles were reversed because they had now become her caregivers. What a glorious sight to behold!