Jude De Cunha - Kids World Parents Say series

Tuesday, 05.07.2016

Every month, we bring you an exclusive Parents Say interview, with parents sharing about their parenting challenges and family bonding tips! This month, we feature dapper-dude-turned-doting-dad Jude De Cunha!

He was a bona fide bachelor and ladies’ man before he got married, but Jude De Cunha did settle down eventually – and by all accounts, he’s loving it. Old habits die hard though, and this father-of-one still gets his kicks – literally – by being a “weekend warrior” on the field and catching all of Liverpool FC’s soccer matches. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been domesticated! Jude takes great delight in getting “his gals” (that’s wife Celeste and daughter Christie) in on the action, from home DIY to catching football fever. Raising a daughter has brought out a softer side to this “alpha male” too, though he admits it can be a challenge sometimes! 

About me: Jude De Cunha, in his forties, project manager with a transport & event logistics company
Married to: Celeste Rodrigues, in her thirties, general manager of an F&B organisation
Children: Christie Gabrielle De Cunha, 2½ years
Pet cat: Rainbow Rodrigues-De Cunha

Kids World: Describe your parenthood journey in three words:

Jude: Gratifying, illuminating, exciting!

Kids World: How do you spend family time?

Jude: During weekends, we usually hang out the entire morning into the afternoon for brunch at kids-friendly cafés. I’m such an avid Liverpool fan that during the English Premier League season, I rope in my gals to watch all their soccer matches too. Christie already knows how to cheer “goooaaalll!” ever so enthusiastically whenever our side scores, so even though she’s a little past 2, she’s already earning her stripes as an Anfield supporter!  

I pretty much enjoy getting hands-on at home too, but I try to involve Celeste (my wife) and even Christie when I’m being Mr Fixit around the house, which can range from simple plumbing and painting jobs to putting up shelves. Even when it comes to stuff like that, we always have lots of fun doing it together.

We also make it a point to visit extended family to celebrate special occasions and keep other longstanding family traditions alive. Otherwise, we bundle into the family car for impromptu road trips across the Causeway!

Kids World: What are your top challenges as a parent?

Jude: This is a no-brainer – especially for working parents in Singapore. When it comes to a major project, it’s trying to juggle the long hours at the office while being mindful that I need to make some “daddy time” for Christie too.

Now that Christie is growing taller and stronger by the day, another challenge is having to continuously childproof my home for the safety of an active toddler.

Naturally, it doesn’t come easy to me having to entertain my daughter by doing the girly things that she loves – especially role-playing activities that involve a lot of imaginary masak masak (cooking), dressing up or putting on make-up (thank god I’m bald so Christie can’t “style” my hair, haha!). So, from a dad’s perspective, playtime is definitely challenging for me!

Kids World: Where do you go or what do you do to relax (without your kids)?

Jude: I’ll hit the pitch for what I describe as weekend warrior soccer games! During my weekly guys’ night out, I also go pubbing with my soccer kakis (mates). Wifey isn’t neglected though! We still make time to just hang out and chill as a couple – either at nice clubs with good ‘live’ bands, catching a play or a late-night movie date.

Kids World: What inspires you to be a better dad? Any role models?

Jude: I am strictly my father’s son in all manner of speaking: My dad, Bernadine Sawyer De Cunha, is both my role model and inspiration to do better as a father. All his life, he was a man of principle and spent much time focused on the proper upbringing of all his five children. He’s a tough act to follow but nonetheless, I try to emulate him and model myself after his character.

Kids World: Share with us your favourite quote(s) and what it means to you.

Jude: This is my one of my all-time favourite quotes from the Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran (beg pardon if it goes on a little long):

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

It’s a beautiful quote and a personal reminder that children are all gifts from God whom we must love selflessly yet not overly influence to our will as they possess their own thoughts, opinions and carefree souls. Although our children may have come through us, this doesn’t mean we can own them or try to turn them into replicas of ourselves. They are after all different in each of their own unique and special way.

What matters overall is that parents must never forget to be good and stable role models for our children.

Kids World: What do you hope to do for your child and family in the next year?

Jude: Celeste and I would definitely like to enroll Christie in a dance class as she seems keen and is always dancing and singing all the time! Hopefully, we’ll be more freed up at work too, and able to take more family vacations together.

Kids World: If your child decides to follow your footsteps, what would you say to him or her?

Jude: Follow your heart and do whatever makes you happy without hurting yourself, your loved ones and the environment.

Kids World: Do you have any regrets?

Jude: Gosh, I wish I’d kids when I was much younger so that I would have more energy and less backaches now lah, haha!

American writer Ben Fountain describes my sentiments ever so aptly here:

“Much of life, fatherhood included, is the story of knowledge acquired too late: if only I’d known then what I know now, how much smarter, abler, stronger, I would have been.
But nothing really prepares you for kids, for the swells of emotion that roll through your chest like the rumble of boulders tumbling downhill, nor for the all-enveloping labour of it,
The sheer mulish endurance you need for the six or seven hundred discrete tasks that have to be done each and every day. Such a small person!
Not much bigger than a loaf of bread at first, yet it takes so much to keep the whole enterprise going
Logistics, skills, material; the only way we really learn is by figuring it out as we go along, and even then it changes on us every day
So we’re always improvising, which is a fancy way of saying that we’re doing things we technically don’t know how to do."

Kids World: Tips for other parents out there?

Jude: Spend as much time as you can with your precious little ones; take loads of photos and videos now to “embarrass” them on their wedding day; don’t be so kiasu (afraid to lose out), and quit being overprotective! 


Stay tuned for our featured parent next month! 

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