An unconditional love

A father's story

Daravatey Seng
Sovannarem Ngoy with his daughter, Sokun Morokoath
UNICEF Cambodia/2019/Chansereypich Seng
16 June 2019

Sovannarem Ngoy is an education officer at UNICEF, who works to improve the conditions of education and overall well-being of children in Cambodia, from Phnom Penh the capital to the most remote area.

Besides his professional duties, Sovannarem is also a father to a newborn daughter, Sokun Morokoath Phum, who just turned five months old.

This Father’s Day, Sovannarem is sharing his own journey as a dad, and emphasizing the importance of the father’s role in ensuring children grow to their fullest potential.

“These days, I spend most of my time with my newborn daughter”, Sovannarem.

To Sovannarem, parents are their children’s first teachers. While playing, children observe their parents’ actions and learn to follow them.

“Children are learning through playing… Play is more than just fun for children. It’s how they learn best, and how they figure who they are, how the world works and where they fit into it. Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, skill, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.”

This is true; the first thousand days of life are crucial to the development of a child’s brain. Over 80% of a baby’s brain is formed during this time. Parents’ position as the caregivers of their children places them in an ideal position to positively impacts their children during this time, fostering healthy habits and behaviours, giving their children the best possible beginning to their lives.

Young children develop many skills through play. Kids with active fathers have superior problem-solving and adaptive skills and are more creative, resourceful and attentive when presented with a problem.

Sovannarem views fathers as having a role in promoting his child’s independence and encouraging the exploration of their world. He identifies this as a result of fathers being more likely to speak in a way that challenges their child’s burgeoning language abilities, encouraging them to develop more complex understandings of communication, while also teaching them important  social skills.

 “I am happy that I can do everything like what my wife does, except breastfeeding, in raising my daughter,” said Sovannarem.

A mother’s love is important and special, but having an active father plays an equally important role in the healthy development of a child. Having an active father makes a child feel surrounded by love, something which Sovannarem felt was an important aspect of a healthy and happy childhood. Fathers are vital figures in a child's emotional and physical development. The father's role during parenting is to provide a different perspective to children, helping children develop autonomy, encouraging them to take responsibility, and to also discover the world freely.

Play is more than just fun for children. “It’s how they learn best,” says Sovannarem, “and how they work out who they are, how the world works and where they fit into it.” Playing with their father allows children to use their imagination while developing physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.

Morokoath playing with her father
UNICEF Cambodia/2019/Daravatey Seng

Sovannarem viewed parents as also having an important role in ensuring their children have access to the sustenance they need to develop into healthy adults; “[Parents] should ensure that babies have the right care and mix of nutrients in their first thousand days, it will help them to better resist infections and allows their growing brains and bodies to realize their full developmental potential in the long-term development.”

“I frequently call her name and teach her to say ’Yes’ Daddy’ ​ and ’Mommy’, taking care of her, talking to her, and playing with her,’  Sovannarem said.

Father always say that they are busy and working hard for their children but to Mr. Narem, being a father is more than paying bills and taking care of material needs. He believes that playing with his daughter is a true demonstration of a father’s love, as it gives them the opportunity to foster their child’s individual identity, guide them along a positive path of thinking, monitor their growth, and to identify their skills and talents in order to support them properly. Furthermore, this active participation in a child’s early years allows a father to act as an example  for how to live and behave as moral individuals, develop a channel of better communication between parents and children and, most importantly, create sweet memories with them as no gift is as powerful as that of a childhood full of love.

“Frankly, I do not know if I am a good father or not, but I would share what I normally do in my family. Being a father, I need to spend time with my daughters helping to have proper emotional, intelligence and physical development. Showing them true love, teaching them what is right and wrong, how they should behave. And being an active father is one of the most important things you can do for your child. No matter who you are, sharing roles and responsibilities in raising the child is very important.”

 Let’s spend time with your kids.

Happy Father’s Day!