Dad the CXO

I arrived in September 2011 as a trailing spouse, with an 11-year old son and the prospect of an interesting new life in Asia. My long-term visa does not allow me to start working on arrival, but with a little bit of luck and perseverance a job can be obtained in this wonderful city.

But things were to be a little bit different for us. In May 2012 I found out my wife was pregnant –a true revelation when you are on the other side of your 40’s. We were very happy with this new chance at parenting and I soon realised that this could mean to be out of workforce for quite some time. At my age, being a “stay-at-home-dad” might signal the end of my professional career.

Our daughter Carla arrived in January of 2013 and the first few months were tough. Living away from family and friends, and not being a young couple anymore means that her demands were much more difficult to manage.

Even with the very generous maternity package that my wife got from her employer, we found ourselves in a precarious position whilst finding stability in a new country.

“At my age, being a “stay-at-home-dad” might signal the end of my professional career”

The day of reckoning has arrived

My wife has to return to work soon -if she can’t go back to work we have to leave Singapore. The day of reckoning is approaching and I have to prepare for it.

Now I have to hone my skills as quickly as I can to gain confidence in managing a house, a baby and my own time.

The challenges are multiple: I had to re-learn how to change a nappy (or diaper, if you prefer) without getting any of the mess on me: a skill that has to be learned and practised incessantly, like the “wax-on, wax-off” routine of the Karate Kid movie. I have to learn about nutrition, medicine, and health. And gain confidence in the role I have to play.

I had to become proficient at providing support, comfort and entertainment for my baby daughter. I have to keep supporting my teenage son and be there for him in the difficult time of his adolescence. And I have to keep close to my wife in these trying times.

Wax On, Wax Off

“wax on, wax off”

The trap of perceptions

If I describe myself to you as “I am the Chief Executive Officer for a successful family-run office, now based in Singapore” you would invite me to contact you in LinkedIn.

But if I told you I am a “stay-at-home-dad” it does not bring the same image of excellence.

Both statements are correct and they can co-exist -it is your perception that needs to adjust to this fact. Do not fall into the trap of perceiving your role of “stay-at-home-dad” as a lesser substitute for something else in your life.

I am the “Lead Flight Director” of my family –just like Gene Kranz was for the Apollo missions.

Nothing happens around here without my involvement and approval, and I know this business from top to bottom.

My family is my business. I have become very good at it and I am very proud of my skills: time management, problem solving, conflict resolution, team building, risk management, task prioritising, emergency management, logistics, medicine, nutrition, law enforcement. And the list goes on.

Most of my former employers did not give me this much experience. I have grown as an individual in ways that I could not imagine twenty years ago. I have learn so much and I have so many valuable experiences, that I recommend this role to anyone who is contemplating on doing it.

The recession of 2008, automation, ageism, globalisation, technology and its long tail around the world has created many changes in society that will have future ramifications to the concept of “work”. Fortunately, all this has helped “stay-at-home-dads” claim their place in society as the CXO of the house.

So I have to conclude that : “I am the best man for this job.”

"Failure is not an option"

“failure is not an option”