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Happy Mother’s Day, Dads

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Nyla

On Mother’s Day, grandmothers, mothers, aunties, godmothers, and sisters are lavished with praise for their role in raising children. But amid the shout outs, songs, and Facebook remembrances, another group is slowly getting the recognition for the role that they play too: single dads.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, there were 253,715 single fathers in Malaysia in 2010. But it seems as if the issue of single fathers aren’t as prominent as single mothers in Malaysia. In an interview with BFM, Lee Wee Min from Focus on The Family Malaysia says that custody normally falls to the mother so there’s more awareness for single mothers. There’s also the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development that champions women so he says single mothers are more well taken care of.

Isazaly Isa, 43, is a video editor and lecturer living in KL, where he’s raising his 5-year-old daughter, Nyla Zara. Isazaly has had sole custody of Nyla since his divorce in 2012. And just like other single parents, Isazaly faces a number of challenges, including work-related stress and everyday life challenges.

The Makchic team recently spent some time with Isazaly and Nyla to find out more about an ordinary day in their lives, the difficulties they face, and overcoming misconceptions about single parenthood.

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Some days I bring Nyla along with me to work especially if I have to work on the weekends. If not, we go out shopping or to the park near by. We alternate outing days every now and then.

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I was there in the delivery room in Singapore ready and nervous with all of the video cameras and equipment that I have because I was planning to record Nyla’s life journey.

It’s a very touching experience. When I first saw Nyla I thought to myself ‘Wow. Is this real? She’s my baby? My child?’

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Being in the production industry, my working hours are very unpredictable. I try to avoid working on weekends and working too late because otherwise Nyla will sleep with my mum on the couch in the living room. And if I don’t carry her upstairs to sleep with me when I get home, Nyla will lecture me on that.

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Another challenge for me lately has been selecting the right education for Nyla. There are so many things to consider. For Nyla, she selects the school she wants to attend by the colour of their walls.

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I enjoy going out with her to shop or play because she can really chat non-stop. Nyla will talk about her surroundings and create stories that are a lot of fun to hear.

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The biggest misconception, from my experience, has been that people are doubtful of single dads as compared to single mums. They state things like ‘How can a single dad raise a child alone? Children need a mother’ Yes, of course children need a mother but they also need a father.

I’ve learned to play both roles as I’m sure most single dads do in the journey and process of parenting.

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The one thing I’ve learned the most is to give full attention – unconditional love and attention.  To be honest, I never knew how to do that at first and if it was required. I’d ask my mum if I sought so much attention when I was a child and she said ‘Yes, of course Nyla’s just like you.’

To the strong single dads who do it all, this is your day too. From dishes and diapers to bedtime stories and bandaging boo-boos, you are amazing for playing and managing both roles. Happy Mother’s Day.

Image Credit: Syamsul Azhar.

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