Yuen Chee Onn is the Centre for Fathering-Dads for Life’s (CFF-DFL) Head of Engagement and Outreach.
He and his wife Eileen have a son, Daniel (28 years of age), two daughters Deborah (26), and Denise (25). For 20 years of his career life, he worked primarily in the banking industry.
At age 45, a heart attack and subsequent recovery would change the course of his life. “It felt like I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I decided to take a 1-year break to rest and recuperate before I would return to my industry”, Chee Onn said about this pivotal moment in his life.
During that break, Chee Onn, who was a Christian, experienced an encounter with God that would cause him to break with his career path and he resolved to be a person who would “be around to do whatever God wanted (him) to do.”
He then served in various Christian ministries for 8 years after making that resolution.
A Heart Opens
In 2014, out of curiosity, Chee Onn attended a fathering course, entitled “The World Needs a Father”. Hearing the messages at the event, he realised that there were many things that fathers needed to do that he felt even he had not done.
After the course, Chee Onn’s experiences would be framed by what he had experienced there.
In 2015, he attended the course once again, and it dawned on him that many fathers out there would benefit from learning how to become more “skilled” at being a father. He then began to look for opportunities to be part of helping fathers to learn and become equipped as dads.
A brief search among the churches followed, when out of the blue Chee Onn received a call from Centre for Fathering. It was to ask him if he was interested in a position with the organisation to drive the Dads for Life movement.
He knew that he had found his place and took the opportunity to begin a journey of helping fathers through CFF/DFL.
Living in modern Singapore, Chee Onn says, “The messages that you hear as a dad today tend to make you worry more (financially), than to reassure you.”
However, he reminds fathers that we cannot turn back the clock in terms of investing our time on our children while they are still young.
“In terms of choosing between maximising your career advancement at the time when you’re most needed as a father, I would always say that you should balance it out,” Chee Onn said.
The key factor in successfully managing the practical and financial needs of a family is in making a “pre-decision” – deciding beforehand on big questions such as “how much is enough” for your family.
Some other tactics to help prioritise making time for the children include being selective on working late and business travel. Dads should also take the long view and pace their career advancement.
“Pacing is important, as we want to slow down for our children – it is what they need from us,”
Chee Onn added.
In terms of finances, being prudent and spending within our means is not only financially sound, but models a healthy relationship with money for our children.
Forging Ahead for Fathers (and Children)
Chee Onn continues to focus on building community awareness of the importance of active fatherhood. Equipping fathers is another key mission for the organisation. “A lot more people out there now know about the importance of active fatherhood, but what they may not know is how best to do it,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I’m doing this for the children,” Chee Onn concludes of his mission. Simply put, The work of Dads for Life and the Centre for Fathering is on your side, dads. We work together to see our children thrive.