Some of you may recognise Albert Lim, or ‘Uncle Albert’ as he is affectionately known to those at Impart, as the chairman of Impart’s Board of Directors. A prominent man, Uncle Albert serves on the boards of five other welfare organizations and sits on the Families for Life Council, all whilst balancing his businesses in interior design, renovation and development, and soft commodities broking. At the heart of it all is his family: family animates, motivates, and binds together Uncle Albert’s work, spurring him to impact families beyond his own. This Father’s Day, we feature Uncle Albert in his personal capacity as father (and grandfather!), and share some of his perspectives on love and fatherhood.
“Fathering has been a privilege, a joy, and also a challenge.”
As a seasoned father of three and grandfather of one, Uncle Albert has ‘parented it all’. He speaks of himself as a “dad for life,” adult children notwithstanding. Yet, as much as his idea of lifelong fatherhood is one of constancy, it is also one of change. In his view, one’s role and approach towards fatherhood cannot be static — instead, it has to evolve in accord with their children’s life stages. Fathering with this ‘change’ mindset, meeting children where they are at, is crucial for fostering stronger and more loving relationships.
“When they are young, you are extending to them a protective, providing cover [that is oftentimes] rather instructional, albeit still with love, reasoning and understanding. As they grow older, it changes - more reasoning will have to come forth, while less instruction will be the call of the day [...]. You relate to them more and [make more] propositions to them - to work with you or come alongside with you.”
Fatherhood is not only a lifelong journey that straddles constancy and change, but also one of learning. No one is born a father, or in the words of Uncle Albert, no one “sat me down in a class and [taught] me how to love, how to be a son, how to be a husband.” Loving comes from practice, and Uncle Albert spoke at length about learning and growing first from a multiplicity of other relationships and experiences. His relationship with his wife has been a crucial learning ground for fatherhood, providing countless opportunities for bridging existing foundations and gaps - such as in areas of gentleness, care, and compassion - to generate deeper and more-lasting habitus. It is important to recognise this experiential aspect to learning love, says Uncle Albert. The models of love imparted by our parents, whilst having a significant influence, are by no means immutable. Each generation presents an opportunity to change the way love and parenting is practiced, in accord with the needs of the child.
This also calls for understanding concerning traditional models of parenting. As much as loving is enabled by deliberate choice and practice, loving is also constrained sometimes by capacity. And, as Uncle Albert points out, the constraints borne by his parents’ generation - those parenting amidst the Independence era - were significant, leaving most of them with bandwidth enough only for provision. Uncle Albert speaks of his experience as a son matter-of-factly, “This is reality. [...] My father was a bus driver, so he had to work, right?”
But times have changed. More opportunities, he observed, are slowly becoming more available to fathers, such as those afforded by the Government-Paid Paternity Leave scheme. The imperative now is to recognise these new opportunities — precious opportunities for fathers to translate their own experiences of being parented (what with the value, joys, and pain points of traditional parenting) into new methodologies for parenting their children. In Uncle Albert’s words, it is time for fathers to “make the effort to turn [their] hearts towards [their] children,” It is time for fathers to move beyond a mere laying down of the law, to engaging with compassion, warmth, empathy and affection, fathering in not just provisional, but personal ways. How else will a father’s heart be known?
“The heart of the father [has to] turn to the children, so that the heart of the children can be turned to the father.”
We thank Uncle Albert for taking the time to speak to us, and for his passion and love in championing families, including the little one over here at Impart. With him, we wish all fathers a blessed Fathers’ Day!