Being a dad is no easy feat, and when one is left to carry the burden of raising a family all alone, the task becomes all the harder.
One of them, Zaki Samsudin, knows the struggle all too well. His wife passed away 12 years ago, leaving him with the heavy task of raising their three children all by himself. Coupled with his full time job as a lecturer at UOW Malaysia KDU University College, juggling work with family duties was a tough balancing act.
Despite the difficulties, Zaki soldiered on and eventually learnt how to be a resilient father in the face of immense challenges, which he gladly shared with WeirdKaya in an exclusive interview.
Challenges of being a single dad
Zaki summarised his role of being a single parent as such: “It requires you to carry the responsibilities and roles all alone. Therefore, you have to do more things solo as you cannot share the duties and tasks of taking care of the kids with your partner.”
When asked what was the biggest challenge he faced in his journey so far, Zaki quoted two, with the first being managing his time in caring for his children as well as combatting societal doubts about the ability of single fathers like him in fulfilling their parental duties.
The second was filling the psychological void that his children, two of which are 7-year-old twins and the other one and a half-years old, faced following his wife’s death. “However, I’ve managed,” he said.
It was definitely a phycological challenge as my wife passed away at a time where my youngest child needed her the most.
Balancing work and family
Aside from being a single father, Zaki also had to make a decision on whether to defer his PhD studies and focus on caring for his children. In the end, he chose his family over his PhD, a decision which he described as a “no brainer” and “rewarding” as it allowed him to watch his kids grow up.
“Every morning when I send my kids to school and pick them back in the evening, I’ll always reassure them that I’ll be there for them given their mother’s absence.
“I also have to thank KDU for providing me with the flexibility to be a father and lecturer for the past 10 years despite the potential hindrance to my career progression,” he said.
Outside of work, Zaki also draws strength from fellow single parents he has befriended through social media, where they are able to share their life stories and encourage each other in their journey together.
Advice to other single parents
While Zaki has relatively been successful in raising his children all by himself, he believes that there’s no one-fit-all approach to single parenting. Instead, he advocates for a personalised approach that’s based on maintaining open communication and trust.
“Personally, I like to take control of duties especially when doing the chores. However, this may not be applicable for others as they may have different challenges.”
He also wants to see the gender stereotypes that’s often placed on single fathers, where they are usually seen as one solely responsible for providing financial support for the family and less capable in taking care of the children compared to their wives.
I vividly remember when my daughter was asked by her teacher to write a letter meant only for her mother. She protested by saying, ‘Why can’t I do one for my father instead?’
“While this sounds like a minor issue, it actually reveals the deeply rooted stereotype most have towards the role fathers have in the family and I think it’s a topic that warrants further discussion,” he said.
Zaki’s story offers encouragement and understanding to those who find themselves on a similar path by shining a light on the strength, resilience, and love inherent in the journey of single parenting.