Becoming A Father At 17 Years Old
Nowadays, becoming a parent isn’t as straightforward as it used to be — the declining birth rates in Singapore is a huge indicator of that. There are just so many things to consider, from financial to emotional support for your child.
For 22-year-old Eden, becoming a teen father at just 17 was a life-changing shock for both himself and the people around him. While many of his peers were still focused on school, Eden had to struggle with taking care of his newborn son, all while still being a kid himself.
We spoke to Eden to find out his journey as a teen father, from navigating through negative remarks to eventually stepping up and becoming a dad that his son can look up to.
Finding out he was going to become a father
Eden and his newborn son in the hospital delivery room
Growing up, many of us assumed that we were going to follow the typical Singaporean dream — find a partner, BTO, get married and eventually have kids. Eden was no different, as he always dreamed of being a father in the future, but never gave it much thought since he was still young.
When Eden was 16, he experienced a shockingly unexpected revelation — his girlfriend was pregnant.
“Because my girlfriend and I were still young, we were very scared. I didn’t dare to tell my mother, and my girlfriend’s mum ended up being the one calling her to break the news.”
Eden’s mother was both shocked and angry at his actions, which resulted in both parties agreeing to abort the foetus.
A year later, Eden’s girlfriend fell pregnant again.
“When we found out about the pregnancy, she was already more than five months in, so abortion wasn’t recommended. Unlike the previous pregnancy, she didn’t have any pregnancy symptoms at all — her tummy wasn’t big and she didn’t have morning sickness.”
Eden shared that his mother was still upset, but at that point, there was nothing anybody could do but accept the situation and deliver the baby. After all, the baby was coming in just a few months, so there was a lot of preparation needed.
Getting negative remarks
Eden out with his son when they were younger
In 2018, Eden’s son Lucian was born. Eden was only 17 then, so being afraid of what he saw in the delivery room was completely justified. TBH, many adults would have also been scared if they were in his position.
At that point of time, he was only together with his girlfriend for around two years.
When asked what it was like holding his son for the first time, Eden admitted, “it was very scary, especially when I saw a lot of blood. My first thought when I saw my son was ‘he’s so small’.”
“I felt something shift in me when I knew I had to carry him for life.”
Whenever Eden went out with his family, he would often get a lot of stares because of how young he looked. “Nobody said it to my face, but I felt like I could hear their thoughts. Things like ‘wah, so young already have a baby’ or ‘maybe their parents never teach them properly’ swarmed my mind.”
Even when Eden was out with his extended family, he felt that his relatives and cousins looked at him differently.
Despite the negativity, Eden told himself one thing — “do good as a young parent.”
“Being a parent is an experience that has to be learned — nobody, not even adults, will know exactly what to do the moment they have a baby. No matter the age, all fathers are learning what it’s like to be a father for the first time.”
Learning how to be a father
Eden with his partner and son
When Lucian was born, Eden was only starting out in his first year of ITE. While Eden’s parents played a big part in aiding Lucian financially, Eden doesn’t want to put the full burden on them.
“Because Lucian is my responsibility, I worked part-time while continuing with school. I had to find the balance between school, work and spending time with my family, which was especially tough on me.”
BTW, it’s normal for kids to act up — whether it’s temper tantrums or simply because they feel like causing trouble. However, Eden feels especially self-conscious about Lucian’s behaviour in school.
“If my son isn’t doing well, I fear that his teachers might think it’s because we are still young and don’t know how to handle a kid.”
Now, Eden is currently serving National Service (NS) and still has a year to go. He considers this the hardest period for him as a father, as during BMT he had to stay in and couldn’t meet his son for long periods.
“It was especially hard for my girlfriend, but I’m thankful that both of our families are very supportive now. Luckily, Lucian is already much older, so even our grandparents help us in small ways, such as fetching him to and fro from school.”
Eden’s journey as shared on his TikTok video
Now, Eden is 22 and Lucian is 5. In July 2023, Eden posted a viral TikTok video sharing his experience as a teen father, which now has over 245,000 views. In his video, Eden says, “my son is innocent and can’t choose his parents, but I am aware that I will hold this responsibility forever.”
This realisation was initiated by Eden’s mother, who constantly reminds him that Lucian only has him as a father to look up to. Since then, Eden recognises the importance of always being there for his son.
Eden has since received a lot of positive comments and encouragement from the public, wishing him the best of luck. Through reading these comments, Eden felt motivated to do even better.
“It makes me want to always learn new things as a father and constantly improve myself. I’ve been talking to my neighbours and other parents around me to find out different parenting styles and what I can do to support Lucian.”
Lucian now, at age 5
Since there’s only a 17-year age gap between Eden and Lucian, one of the many perks is that Eden sees him as a younger brother too. While many older parents are tirelessly chasing their kids at the playground, Eden feels that physical activities don’t pose that much of a challenge to him.
“Our age difference isn’t big, which means we can do a lot of fun things together. When I turn 30, Lucian will already be 13 years old.”
Plans for the future
Eden spending time together with his family of three
As Eden is still serving NS, his main goal now is to complete his service. Afterwhich, the 22-year-old is considering either continuing with his studies or helping out his mother with their family business.
And with his beloved family of three? Eden is actually planning to have another child in the future, aka a younger sibling for Lucian to share his childhood with. But since finances are still a bit tight for him and his partner, these plans are currently on hold.
The topic of marriage with his girlfriend of seven years is also in the talks, though Eden shared that they will only start planning after he finishes his NS.
To all the young fathers in Singapore who are struggling, Eden wants to reassure them that “even until now, I’m still really scared. But don’t just think of yourself — think of your children and partner as well. There will be times where you feel like giving up, but as long as you try your best for them, that’s enough.”
Despite Being A Teen Father at 17, Eden Is Hopeful For The Future With His Family
Undoubtedly, 17 is a very young age for one to become a parent. But left with no choice, Eden took on these challenges head on and embraced fatherhood to the best of his abilities.
Personally, Eden knows of some people around him who ran away from their responsibilities of being a father, so Eden is extra determined to prove to Lucian that he will always be there as a role model to him.
Before our interview ended, Eden concluded the call with a final reminder to our judgemental society — “just because someone is a young parent, it doesn’t mean they can’t be a good parent.”
All images courtesy of Eden.
Some quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.