Our CMO's reflections on Father's Day
By Mark Lubliner, Chief Medical Officer Bupa APAC.
I’m a father of two cheeky and active boys aged 11 and 13, and we’re supported by an intelligent and dedicated wife. We also have a 2-year-old dog named Arlo.
What does it mean to you to be a dad?
Being a dad is very rewarding, but also very challenging. Trying to balance the various facets of your life - including vocation, hobbies, finances, and sleep - together with the needs and wants of your children isn’t an easy gig.
There’s no rule book, and there’s a natural tendency towards parenting in the same way that you were parented. I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up in an egalitarian household. My mum worked 9am-5pm during the week and my dad worked 4am-7pm Thursday to Sunday. Dad did most of the cooking and cleaning during the week and mum did the same on weekends. As kids we learnt early on how to wash and dry the dishes, hang out the wash, and tidy our rooms, and we were expected to do so. Now it’s my turn to ensure the baton is passed on to my boys.
As a dad, do you think you take a different approach to your health and wellbeing?
Perhaps subconsciously – I’m keen to ensure that I remain physically and psychologically healthy for as long as possible so that I can continue to be an active and present dad.
What do you think the best gift a dad or father figure can give their kids?
Besides those trendy basketball boots cobranded with NBA players or a new Xbox game …..give them your TIME! Nag them to do their homework and tell them you’re being a nag because you love them and want them to get the best start in life. Be present at the dinner table and listen to stories about their day, play-wrestle until you’re all laughing so hard that you can’t breathe. Be there to cuddle them before bed.
Shane Warne’s sudden death shook a lot of dads to the core and in some cases prompted health checks. When advice do you have for men as far as regular health checks? When should they start?
Start now, regardless of age! If you haven’t got a regular GP, speak to a trusted friend or colleague who can help you find one.
What sort of impact do you think a proactive approach to men’s health from a dad or father figure has on their kids?
I think dads or father figures who take a proactive approach to health can have a significant impact on their kids’ health in the longer term. Be opportunistic. Encourage your kids to brush their teeth whilst you do (and also floss occasionally), discuss healthy eating choices when the kids reach for treats after school, and educate them on the FOBT (poo) kit that they can expect to receive in the mail when they reach 50 years of age (to help identify bowel cancer early)!
What about mental health? What impact do you think a father’s take on mental health has on young eyes watching them?
Many of us are working hard to de-stigmatise the perception of “weakness” when seeking help for stress or mental health concerns. I have no qualms telling my boys when I’ve had a rough day at work so beware of “grumpy dad”, or that I need some “time out” for myself to wander down to the local café for an hour-long coffee and cake to read a few chapters of my latest novel. I think it’s also important to acknowledge when the kids feel sad or mad about something, reinforce that these feelings are normal, and help them to work through their feelings in a constructive way.
Anything else you’d like to add?
To all the fathers, and father figures out there today, please take the time to celebrate being a dad. And have your children know that you have tried to do your best, with the tools that you have. Happy Father’s’ Day!