“Love them, no matter what.”
This is Families for Life Council Member, Gurmit Singh’s parenting motto. Gurmit, 52, is a popular entertainer in Singapore. Out of the limelight, he is also a father of 3 – Mikaela, 4, Elliot, 16, and Gabrielle, 20. He left the hectic show business to spend more time with his loved ones in 2014. Recently, he made a comeback with a handful of projects. We caught up with the family man to learn more about his fathering experience.
Fatherhood is no walk in the park. Tell us about the challenges you faced at different stages of your children’s lives, through their diapering years, into their schooling years till date.
That is a big question because the full answer is going to take 20 years (that is how old my eldest child is) to reply. Changing diapers is not a challenge. When I was young, I helped my late Mother take care of the babies she was babysitting to earn extra money. In the schooling years, though, it was a challenge to be a part of my kids’ lives because I was at the peak of my career. I am now happy to report that I am playing catch-up with and spending more time with them.
Were you always an “active” dad, and if not, what made you decide to prioritise your children over your career?
I am a family man and for the longest time, I consoled myself that though I wasn’t there for my wife and kids, at least I was providing for them. But this is exactly what I had warned myself against. My late father was always busy making ends meet. I don’t hold any grudge, but that told me one thing: as a father, I need to spend time with the family and not just provide for them. Once, during an interview, Gabrielle said: “My father was a mythical creature, didn't know when he would be in or out.” That reaffirmed my decision to put my loved ones first.
Has your parenting style changed between your first child and your youngest child, and if so, how?
A lot! Being a first-time parent was like a mysterious science experiment. No one knew how it was going to turn out. I was anxious and extremely cautious. By the time we had our third child, it was less stressful. It helps that I was able to spend more time with her.
How has fatherhood changed you as a person?
I have mellowed a lot. It has changed my perspective of what is important in life. Everything used to be about me. Now it’s about my children.
How have children brought joy to the family?
Oh, many ways! The way they tried to hold a conversation with us when they were toddler, how they made birthday presents with their art, when they say “I love you” or even everyday words like “Thanks, Dad”, when they hold my hand for assurance, when they cuddle up to my shoulder to rest for a bit... The list is long.
Can you recount an incident where you felt affirmed in your role as an active/involved father?
Every time one of them turns to me and says they had a great time with me.
A father is someone children look up to no matter how tall they grow. Fatherhood may be full of challenges but it is an immensely rewarding life experience.