By James Chen
Toward the end of 2021, I made the decision to leave my desk job to be a full-time stay home dad, with the full support from my wife, Ching Huey. This is a sharing of God’s goodness, and of some key lessons that we have learnt so far in my parenting journey.
During the pandemic, when I started working from home, it dawned upon me the amount of time I missed with the boys, Nate and Luke, in their toddler years. Our daily routines revolved around work, and even on weekends, we were rushing from one appointment to another. Discipline (or teaching) was neglected, and we had minimal engagement with our children. Realising that I had to do more than simply to provide for my family’s physical needs, we started discussing the possibility for one of us to put a pause on our career in order to care for the children on a full-time basis.
It was a decision that was not taken lightly. We deliberated over this decision for more than 9 months. To be a stay-home dad is counter-cultural, and it places the burden of financial provision solely on Ching Huey. Furthermore, I had a good year at work in 2021, and was hoping to build on that momentum. However, with the main objective of having me lead the family spiritually, we eventually took this bold step for me to be a stay home dad. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (ESV) encouraged me:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Shortly after leaving Singapore Airlines, a tech company based in Europe approached me with an offer for a fully flexible, part time role. Not only was the role a perfect fit for our home arrangement, the management understood that my priority is my family. Furthermore, the role allowed me to develop professionally, contribute to the family income, and most importantly, spend time growing with the boys. We give thanks to God for His provision and His grace. We recognise that it is God’s hand that provides in His own good time. Matthew 6:26 (ESV) tells us:
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
In the past 6 months, through parenting, God has shown us, in His grace, how I am more like my children than unlike them. My thoughts, words and actions are driven by a sinful heart. This sinful heart that believes I have everything that I need and that I can do whatever I like. I am reminded that I, like my children, am in desperate need for the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
I found this truth to be liberating in the journey of parenting. The recognition that I too, like my children, need God’s grace frees me from my self-righteousness. For example, we confess our faults and shortcomings to our children, when we lose our temper quickly, or when we overreact to a particular situation. We in turn encourage them to also recognise their faults daily.
Furthermore, God’s grace and forgiveness help me move on from my mistakes and regrets made in my parenting journey. Knowing that God is in control of our lives, we trust that He can make good situations that we mess up!
We are but channels through which God shows His grace to our children, and ultimately, it is His work to change our children’s hearts (we are unable to do so). It is our prayer that as we grow in our journey as parents, God will shape us (and our children) to be more like Himself!