So you want to date my daughter?

One of the most prominent things you end up doing as you get older is you tend to develop a rather strange relationship with those who came after you. As you grow, you often see life as being about you and the generations above. Life up to a point is about being provided for by parents and then taking control of your life from your parents.

Then, there comes a point when you become the “old” generation and there are a group of grown-up kids looking to you as the “old” generation. How you relate to them becomes your new challenge. For a Singaporean guy, the act of getting older inevitably means grumbling about how National Service isn’t quite as brutal as what it was in your day.

For me, the biggest aspect about getting older was called parenthood, specifically parenthood to a girl. I was, as they say, the type of guy who enjoyed any glimpse he could get of a woman’s anatomy and have all sorts of fantasies. I took the position that it’s only natural for men to like the sight of T&A.

Well, I made the choice of adopting a young girl who has grown into a very good-looking young woman (let’s not forget that her mother is an actual beauty queen). That experience has formed how I relate to people significantly younger (defined by 20-years and more).

Don’t get me wrong, I still like looking at good looking and well-shaped women. However, the moment I get the inkling that the girl could be Kiddo’s age, I back off – it’s “ew – no, not going to get involved with someone who could be my kid.” Never mind Kiddo, I still can’t get over the fact that Christopher, my youngest brother, and I once had a conversation about pregnancy scares and abortions. Although he was well past 30 when we had that conversation, it felt weird because I remember him as a tiny fellow and our conversations centred around whether small things were cuter than big things.

So, as I soon to be divorced man pushing the half century mark, I find that while I would like to have someone in my life, it’s not going to be someone close to Kiddo’s age because …..well it would like Kiddo and that would feel like pedophilia.

As for my relationship with young men, I have my former intern to thank for it. In the initial stages, he actually asked me “Can I marry your daughter, then I can really call you Dad?” That remark made me realise that I actually relate to a lot of younger guys as potential “sons-in-law.” It’s a case of – would I want you near my daughter?

In fairness to Kiddo, the two times, I’ve been introduced to a potential son-in-law, I’ve actually liked the guy. Both my potential sons-in-law were decent and well mannered. The first candidate actually bowed before me and presented a cake. The second took my around Hai-Phong and was the perfect host.

I am not the stereotypical Asian parent who expects the kid’s significant other to be a multimillionaire. I’m simple, I’m happy as long as the guy has a job. What he works as not important as long as he’s got the determination to work. Let’s be realistic, not everyone can be a lawyer or a doctor but everyone can make an honest living. First candidate worked as a bar manager and the second worked in the port at Hai Phong. Both were hard working guys who also gave attention to her.

The second criteria of a potential son-in-law is his relationship with his family. Does he treat his parents with respect. Is he willing to care for his parents? It’s this simple, if he treats his own parents with respect, he’ll treat me with a certain amount of respect. First candidate was a child of a single mother (dad died in his youth) and took care of her. Second candidate was also respectful to his parents. Both guys respected me and displayed impeccable manners when around me. No, I will not tolerate a Mummy’s boy as a son-in-law no matter rich the family. I expect my son-in-law, whoever he may be, to have an independent mind and not have an entitlement mentality. He has to be respected for who he is rather than his family, wealth, material possessions and so on.

My third criteria for a son-in-law must be he looks like he can handle himself in a fight. I was told that I had a bit of a thug’s mindset but I do have a rationale to it. Firstly, I do expect anyone who is serious about my kid to be willing to protect her physically, as I would.

More importantly, I’ve realized that the people who can handle themselves in a fight are the ones who have been in fights before. As such, they know that everyone gets hurt in a fight and as such, they’re less likely to get in situations that are nasty. Knowing how to handle people in difficult situations is an often-underappreciated skill.

The problem in Singapore is that the system tends to encourage coach potatoes to pretend to be tough. Hence, you get hair-brained bureaucrats who only experienced combat by masturbating over graphs on a computer in a cubicle challenging people to fights, knowing that they’ll be protected by our strong anti-violence laws. These are the people who find a problem for every solution and make life unnecessarily difficult.

Hence, I expect any potential son-in-law to be a real human being rather than a bureaucrat in cubicle who thinks he’s got an invincibility complex. You can only snap the necks of such people for sport. [LINK]

We don’t need more automatons being related to us. We need to ensure that the people who get related to are actually humans with values.


Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able to meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.




4 Responses to “So you want to date my daughter?”

  • Dalai Says "Read My Lips":

    Call it the Self with a capital “S.” You got the ‘baby’, you did the right thing by the ‘baby’, the ‘baby’ has lived and is living a much better life than ever would have been the case without your action (and, we assume, love, although I’m not certain that word appears anywhere in your piece).
    Now is the time to just shut up about it, move on with your own life, let the ‘baby’ live hers without forcing undue publicity upon her no-longer-little head, and just forgo the pleasure and/or ego-tripping that having an article on her ‘prospective mate’, appearing here must entail. There are many things in this life that are made more ongoingly difficult than they otherwise have to be. It seems to me your continued angst over what is probably the kindest and most loving thing you have ever done in your life is, on the very face of it, ridiculous!

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  • Singaporean R Free Rider:

    We need to ensure that the people who get related to are actually humans with values.
    Dear Tang Li,
    Yes I agreed but, but, What kind of human values are we talking about?

    Is it the value of Thou Shal Not Kill/Steal that go pretending pretending but actually support/assist in cold blooded murder of Palestine civilians and genocide?

    Be specify.

    Is it the value of I can kill and steal but you are not allow to kill and steal ?

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  • Harder Truths:

    Dream on Baldie.

    Your kids don;t give a flying f**k what you think. Courtesy of a privileged lifestyle you always remind us that you and your family live (and are never tired of reminding us in every post you make).

    Perhaps your daughter is a lesbian. Then you will have a daughter-in-law. And if they decide to have children who knows who the real father will be?

    One thing for sure – they will surely get someone with lots of hair.

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  • Weird:

    This appears to be a case of counting the chickens before the eggs are laid.

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