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Fri, Nov 19, 2010
SPH, Special Projects Unit
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Papa, the best job in the world
by Sylvain Pouilly

I WAS a little suspicious about the job description: full-time position, no academic qualifications or previous experience required. The only caveat: You cannot quit.

I filed my application anyway.

In May last year, three pregnancy tests later, my wife Linda informed me that I was definitively hired as she was expecting our first-born in January.

It did not take long for both of us to realise we were clueless about what was to come. In a move that will be familiar to a lot of the readers, we decided to embark on a "skills-upgrading" programme that equipped us with theory and practical skills to take on the job.

We did it together because it was the natural thing to do: Parenting is a shared responsibility and it starts well before the birth itself.

I invited myself at every step of the way - from the selection of the obstetrician and the hospital to the obstetrician visits, from the prenatal course to the emotional moment of the delivery.

Because none of this is mandatory, it is fairly easy for dads-to-be to skip all these events. But, for me, it was a once in-a-lifetime opportunity and it proved to be a rewarding process.

Prenatal classes are really useful for practical reasons: They taught me how to handle, burp, bathe and clean my baby.

On the other hand, the obstetrician sessions are great opportunities to clarify your doubts. And then there are also some magical moments like hearing your child's heartbeat and seeing her picture via ultrasound scan for the first time.

I think my wife was grateful that we went through this amazing experience as a team and that I was able to support her in a more meaningful way by doing my share of the chores related to the care of the baby.

I recall an incident in a Chinese restaurant when I was changing our baby Andréa's soiled diaper while my wife was chatting with her parents and my parents around the table. A few "aunties" came over and started praising me and even gave the "thumbs up" sign!

Andréa is now 10 months old. She has grown into a healthy and very active infant.

The road ahead is full of important milestones: her first birthday, her first steps, her first day at school, and so on.

Being her father, I am very excited by the prospect of accompanying her on that rocky road that is life. Taking a step back, I can affirm it loud and clear: I love this job. Every time my little princess gives me her toothy smiles, I feel like I have the best job in the world.

As a side-note for dads who complain that babies do not come with instruction manuals, there apparently is one.

In our quest to read up to prepare for parenthood, my wife and I discovered The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips and Advice On First-Year Maintenance.

Have a read, have a good laugh but, more importantly, enjoy your job as a dad.


Sylvain Pouilly is the co-founder of, an online career platform for companies to provide support for expatriates and their spouses. His wife, Linda Seah, is a relationship manager in a foreign bank.

Dads for Life, which celebrated its first anniversary on Nov 19, is a national movement to inspire and involve fathers to be good influencers in their children's lives for life.

An initiative of the National Family Council, and supported by the Fathers Action Network (FAN), it uses the acronym ACT to mobilise fathers to:

  • be Aware of the importance of a father's role;

  • Commit to be good fathers and role models to their children;

  • spend Time, acquire Tools and bring Transformation to lives.

The website provides the latest research evidence, resources, events and ideas so that fathers can acquire fathering tools for themselves.

There is also a Facebook page (www. and Twitter account (


This article was first published in The Straits Times.

For more The Straits Times stories, click here.

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