All this month, we’ve been talking to fathers from the Cotton the First family, listening to their #DadStories and sharing them with you. In our next installment, we spoke with Mei-chang Kuo, a retiree with a long career in the pharmaceutical industry.
Having grown up in Taiwan, Mr. Kuo moved to the US when he was 24, living all across the country from Wisconsin, Washington, DC, Boston and finally settling in Palo Alto, where he now lives with his wife Ann. His two adult daughters, Irena and Katrina, also live close to home in Palo Alto.
After nearly forty years of celebrating Father’s Day, Mr. Kuo says the special day this year will most likely be spent at home with his family. Since the start of the pandemic, his daughters have insisted that he and his wife stay safely at home, except for daily walks around the neighborhood. He reminisces about a Father’s Day when his girls were young, when they presented him with a sweatshirt that they had customized by hand with the letters D-A-D on the front. He remembers that gift so fondly and still has the sweatshirt to this day.
Mr. Kuo tells us that he grew up without his own father, only meeting his dad for the first time when he was 34 years old. When it was time to become a father himself, he lacked a model to inform him how to be a dad. The lack of a father in his own childhood compelled Mr. Kuo to be even more present in the lives of his daughters. He spent a lot of time with his daughters while they were growing up and he agrees, that his relationship with his girls is stronger for it.
The role of a father is an important one for Mr. Kuo who says a dad must be an example to his children, who will observe and learn the behaviors they see around them. For all the closeness he shared with his daughters while they were growing up, Mr. Kuo was very proud of them when they chose to leave home to attend college far away from home, confident that he had given them tools to be independent and successful. He compares their independence with that of his own, first leaving home for college then leaving his home country to settle in America.
Having been a father for nearly four decades, Mr. Kuo offers simple advice to other fathers. “Be close with your children,” he says, which fosters a relationship where children are comfortable having a dialogue with their parents. For soon-to-be dads, Mr. Kuo simply says, “Don’t be afraid, you can handle it.” Watching his daughters grow up and finally leave home, he says he felt lost initially, but happy to see them stand on their own feet. And now that his daughters have come back, close to home, Mr. Kuo is thankful to have them to celebrate with this Father’s Day.