Working dad Looi Qin En talks to other working mums to discuss the common challenge working parents face. Learn more about their discussion on dealing with parental guilt here.
In this article, you’ll read:
- How his life changed when he became a dad
- How can parents overcome this guilty feeling of not doing enough
Parenthood changes a person -this line can be so cliche, but it cannot be more true. For some people, being a parent prompts them to take more risks, go after their dream. Meanwhile, most people take this new role as a sign to rethink their priorities and how they’re living their lives.
Looi Qin En: the tech dad
Looi Qin En, host and creeator of Parents in Tech
For tech leader and businessman Looi Qin En, parenting forced him to adopt a new perspective on career and family life. Before he became a dad, he had just cemented his place in Singapore’s tech start-up world. He was even recognised on Forbes’ 30 under 30 and Entrepreneurs’ 27 under 27 lists.
To succeed in his business, Mr Qin En admitted that he was relentless and obsessed in his career. But all of that changed when he met his wife, Gladys, also from the tech sector. They welcomed their daughter, Gabrielle, in October 2020. Qin En’s mindset about work-life balance took a different turn after that.
“I had to learn the hard way, that with a newborn child, you can’t ask her to ‘wait’ for her milk or diapers to be changed. Her wails and cries demanded immediate attention and response.
In the past, when it was just my wife and I, it was easy for me to explain to her ‘Hey I’m busy, let’s reschedule our dinner date.’ But having a child and becoming a parent has changed that radically – I have to be there for my daughter,” he said.
Parenting was a challenging but equally interesting place for Qin En to navigate. And brought on by his own experience as a dad and inspired by his wife, he decided to set out on a personal journey to learn about being a better husband and father.
“Dads whom I know of today want to be more active and involved in sharing the parenting workload with our wives, and I am no exception. When I became a dad, I made a resolution to be as engaged as I can,” he added.
So he created Parents in Tech, a podcast dedicated to sharing stories on parenting, technology and entrepreneurship. He sits down with mums who are technology leaders and have candid conversations about balancing career ambitions with family aspirations.
Dealing with parental guilt
Guilty about returning to work after having a baby?
For the first season of his podcast, Qin En puts the spotlight on one of the major struggles working parents face – parental guilt.
In a recent survey, it was found that in Singapore, 82% of new mothers are reluctant to return to work because of a lack of flexible working options. Moreover, a study in the United States revealed that parents were more likely to have left their jobs during the last few months than their non-parent counterparts.
The reason: fear of missing out.
” In my conversations with 15 mums on Parents in Tech, I found this to be the most common challenge. Many mums share this nagging fear that they might be missing out on the opportunity to be more involved as a parent or providing for the best for their children,” shared Qin En.
Parents nowadays have a hard time slowing down taking a break from work. Why? Because it is ingrained in their own personal identities. Even Qin En had to struggle between reining in his go-getter personality with work and fulfilling his role as a hands-on dad.
“This is particularly challenging because being ambitious and striving to do the most I can professionally have always been part of my core identity,” he said.
Before he became a dad, Qin En shared that he would even sleep in the office on weekdays to cut down on the extra hour of commute and channel that time to more work.
“Yet being an actively involved dad meant that I had to accept that I would accomplish 80% of what I could have done, and live with the discomfort of knowing I could have done more, but I made a conscious choice to be present with my family,” he said.
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How to overcome parental guilt
If you’re feeling guilty for leaving your child to infant care, or feeding him formula because you need to go back to work, know that you are not alone.
Working parents first need to understand that this guilt is not unique to themselves. Countless parents returning from paternity and maternity leave face this guilt,” said Qin En.
In his conversations with these successful and influential mums, the first-time dad discovers that there’s no one “right” path to parenting.
One of the biggest lessons that he learned while listening to his guests is the importance of having a balance and knowing your priorities in a particular moment.
“It’s like a muscle that you constantly have to train and everyone has their own different circumstances. So you just have to find out what works for you,” he shared.
“The muscle working parents can practise is setting clear boundaries and communicating them in the workplace. One concept Queenie (Chan, Executive Director at Standard Chartered Bank), introduces is ‘golden time.’
In her words, ‘What is the golden time in a day that’s very important to you that you want your flexibility and you don’t want to be disrupted?‘”
Click here to listen to Looi Qin En’s Parents in Tech podcast.
Parents in Tech podcast