In collaboration with Longines, we present The Cool Father – highlighting two young and happening dads who are embracing fatherhood in style.

For Father’s Day, we thought we’d ask two men to describe the experiences of being fathers in this time and age. Thus here Longines presents The Cool Father actor Keith Foo and creative director Jean Basri, on the joys of fatherhood.

Keith foo
keith and skylar foo
Keith and Skylar Foo; Keith has on the Longines HydroConquest 41mm in stainless steel with green dial, ceramic bezel and rubber strap; Keith’s outfit by Louis Vuitton

What are your best memories as a kid with your own father?

My childhood was a simple one, I grew up in a small town known as Gemas (in Negeri Sembilan), a railway hub where I spent most of my time with my dad. The memories I have are not of the toys that I was gifted but being with my dad as he works.

Apart from that, trips to Port Dickson, albeit a budgeted one somehow sparks the most joy and are most memorable. I brought Skylar back to my hometown last year, and she loved it. It was her first time. We did the entire hometown trail where I brought her to the train station, coffee shops and places where I usually hang out as a kid.

What did you have as a child that kids today don’t?

Playing outdoors unsupervised.

What are some of the most important lessons you learned as a child, that you’d like to pass on to your child?
You are enough, and you are not obligated to live up to everyone’s expectations. Only you can define what’s possible for you and your life.

What’s the hardest part about being a father?

Being apart from my daughter is the hardest.

Has your own father been your greatest coach in life? If yes, how has he coached you? What has made him good at it?
My dad is not the kind of person who sits his kids down for a lecture. He has coached me through his actions. For example, I was away from my family at a very young age. After completing secondary school, I moved to KL for college and worked for whatever jobs available (i.e. commercials/ modelling.) By 21, I was already in Jakarta and Hong Kong on my own.

My dad (and mom) wasn’t too keen on me going into acting as a career. Also, the notion of “letting go” at that young age may have created lots of anxiety for them. As a father now, I can relate. But despite the reservations, my dad believed and supported me all the way through. He allowed me space to grow and at the same time assured me that he has my back and that I have a home to come back to.

Tell me a story about a family crisis you had to endure as a younger person, and how it changed you.
My divorce in 2019 was a challenging time for me and my family (likewise for her and her family) although it was an amicable one. We were married for four years and had lived separately for about a year and a half leading to the finalisation of our divorce. Yes, the split happened on good terms, but it was easier said than done. It involves setting aside ego, pride and differences for the greater good and for the best interest of our daughter.

How has it changed me? I am definitely calmer now and I hardly react. I’m really grateful to have the support of my family. Slight digression – my parents left my hometown to be with me throughout this time and I’m glad, but at the same time embarrassed that they had to do that. I would say I would have never come this far if it is not for them.

What do you think will be the hardest challenge for your child to overcome, as she grows up?
Expectations, particularly for a girl which may lead to unjust treatment on grounds of appearance, gender, aptitude and skills.

What are your favourite stories about your family that you tell your child?

Nothing very fancy but I’d tell stories of my kampung childhood to Skylar.

What are your child’s best memories with you? What holidays or experiences bring a smile to her face?
Sounds cliché but I think our daily activities are the best memories for us. The more special ones are probably mini getaways – teaching Skylar how to fly a kite when we were in Desaru was particularly memorable. It’s definitely not the extravagant overseas trips.

What three adjectives would you use to describe your child?

Only three? It’s tough because I have so many to describe Skylar. She’s fearless, extraordinary and intelligent.

When teaching resilience and having a never-quit attitude, what’s the best way to pass this quality on to your children?
First of all, it is important to parent the child you have, not the child you wish you had. Only with this mindset can we instil resilience, compassion and empathy. Instead of telling them what to do, show them how it is done. You’ll soon realise that it was not you who are teaching them but you are learning from them.

What unique quality / skills did your own father have?

Patience. He watched me struggle without stepping in to fix things for me. It must have been hardest parenting challenges for him to endure because he knew it was the best thing for me.

As you grew into a young man, then having your own family, how has your view of your own father changed? Or, has your own father changed over the years, and how so?
My respect for him grew greater.

How are you most different from your own father? How are you the same?

He is definitely more resilient than I am.

What do you do to bond with your kids?

With the pandemic, most of our bonding time are confined at home, we swim occasionally. I would love to experience with Skylar all the outdoor activities like hiking, swimming in the waterfalls, playing at the beach, cycling at the park etc. once things are more settled down.

More shots of Keith and Skylar Foo from the Longines Cool Father feature:

Jean basri
jean basri
Jean Basri with children Rayyan and Maya; he has on a Longines Legend Diver 42mm in bronze with titanium case-back, gradient green dial and brown leather strap

What are your best memories as a kid with your own father?

The best memories with my dad was cruising in his topless jeep in the open air and I was standing up at the back enjoying the fresh breeze (mimicking that iconic Titanic scene).

What did you have as a child that kids today don’t have?

Mandi Sungai! I think kids these days don’t really have the privilege to play in crystal-clear river water, where I was brought up – Pulau Duyong, Terengganu.

What are some of the most important lessons you learned as a child that you’d like to pass on to your children?
Be grateful and always stay humble.

What’s the hardest part about being a father?

The uncertainty I feel, about whether I’ve raised them well enough to be good people.

Has your own father been your greatest coach in life? If yes, how has he coached you? What has made him good at it?

My father is a man of few words but he has always been a role model in being humble and friendly to all walks of life regardless of their age, status or background.

What is your idea of being a good father?

Turning up at your daughter’s ballet recital, and your son’s football games. Being completely hands-on with their arts and craft work.

What do you think will be the hardest challenge for your child to overcome, as they grow up?
Real social interaction – with everyone going through this pandemic and everything being run online. I’m worried about them having difficulty with genuine face to face social interaction.

What are your favourite stories about your family that you tell your children?
That their parents went through tough times and difficulties trying to conceive them. And now we are so grateful that we have two of them.

What is the most embarrassing thing your own father ever did to you?
He thought it was funny to put me on a goat while buck naked. He even took a picture which he’s shown to a lot of his friends!

What are your child’s best memories with you? What holidays or experiences brings a smile to their faces?
For my son’s second birthday, my brother in-law wore a 6-foot Elmo costume and my son truly believed that was the real Elmo. The joy and excitement on his face was priceless.

What three adjectives would you use to describe your child? And conversely, what three adjectives would your child use to describe you?
Rayyan: Over-friendly, hyper-active and playful. Maya: Kind hearted, a giver and adamant. JB: Playful, active and creative (I think).

What unique quality / skills did your own father have?

He cooked for the whole family!

If you could go back to one day in your childhood, which day would that be? Why?
Anytime when I was little. No need to worry about responsibilities, money or stress! All we did was play with friends! (haha)

What do you do to bond with your kids?

Since I’m in the creative line, I always enjoy doing arts and craft projects with my kids.

More photos of Jean Basri with Rayyan and Maya from the Longines Cool father feature:

 

 

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