KATE PANG: “I DIDN’T REALISE KIDS WOULD CREATE PROBLEMS IN MY MARRIAGE”
The actress-host shares more in our #mumgoals series.
When celebrity mum Kate Pang announced her departure from Mediacorp in October last year, it came as no surprise.
After all, the 35-year-old is one devoted mum who put her promising future in showbiz on hold when her little ones came along – Aden is now four; and Avery, two.
She and actor-hubby Andie Chen, 33, are now focusing on their Youtube channel, Kandie Family, where they cover parenting topics such as child-rearing, health and nutrition, and pregnancy. Their aim: To show young adults that “having a family can be fruitful and ridiculously fun”.
But the road leading to this was not an easy one. The bubbly mum opens up to Young Parents over coffee at Park Hotel Clarke Quay about her parenthood journey, and how having children almost ruined her loving relationship with Andie.
You shared an Instagram post about how your marriage hit the rocks after the kids came along. What really happened?
Before we got married, people around me were constantly
telling me that there will be many marital problems after the kids come along. At that point in time, I didn’t know what it would be like, and I always believed that we should prioritise our husbands because they are the ones who will walk with you for the rest of your life.
But it was only after giving birth that I realised what everyone was telling me was true. Having kids was a huge turning point for Andie and I – we never thought that it would bring problems to our marriage.
The kids’ existence did affect the love between us. te loved the kids more, and the love and affection we had for each other transitioned towards them.
At the start, Andie’s focus wasn’t entirely on the kids. He has always been someone who loves his wife more – it was only last year that I felt he loves the kids more – and he (was always of the belief that we) shouldn’t forgo our relationship just because of children.
ln the other hand, I’ve always given all my attention to looking after the children. As a result, we argued over this issue countless times.
But thankfully, Andie is very accommodating and he understands that I can’t please everyone, so he’ll adjust himself accordingly. And, I’ll try to put myself in his shoes as well.
Plus, the kids are a little older now, so when they go to school in the morning, we’ll have some alone time together. te also have a rule where we’ll go on dates every week – whether it’s watching a movie or having a meal. A happy marriage equals to happy kids.
At the end of the day, we both agree that the joy the kids give us helps to balance the differences in our marriage as well.
Both of you left Mediacorp to start your own company. Why?
te were pondering this for quite some time. The traditional TV industry is in decline and we’re concerned that this will affect our careers, which will then affect the kids’ futures. te knew we needed a concrete long-term plan.
At the same time, we started our company and managed it to a point where we needed more time and space. I wasn’t 100-per-cent committed to Mediacorp and it was unfair to them as they’d want to fully manage an artiste.
That said, I’m still working with them on projects and hosting gigs. But since I’m not under them, I probably wouldn’t be picked for important roles.
But that’s something I never wanted because the hectic schedules make it very difﬁcult for me to look after the kids.
How are things like for your family now?
gob-wise, some things have changed. then I was an actress, my only responsibility was to memorise my scripts and act.
Now that I’m my own boss, I’ve to do most things by myself – from writing my own script to producing it. te are not a very big company, so we don’t have the luxury of employing people to do everything for us.
Family-wise, my time with the kids has multiplied. lur content is always related to parent-child relationships, and this is also one of the reasons we are striking out on our own.
Not only do we have better management of our time, but we can also plan all our videos to include the children – this allows us to spend more time with them while we are working.
What’s a typical day like?
then the kids don’t have school, I make breakfast for them. The kids are very inquisitive, so they will come over and take a look and ask lots of questions. te’ll then have breakfast together, chit-chat, play and read some books – that will be our reading and activity time.
After which, I’ll prep for lunch, and Aden will sometimes help me out – either by washing the rice, mushrooms or vegetables – and when I start cooking, my helper will take care of the kids.
I’d say the longest period we spend with our kids is during meal times. te communicate
a lot, and our conversation usually revolves around the dishes – what I’ve cooked, or where I bought the ingredients from.
Sometimes, the kids are a little picky – there are certain things they don’t like eating. For example, Avery doesn’t like ﬁsh and Aden doesn’t like tomatoes. So, I’ll try various cooking methods to encourage them to try different foods.
I want them to try everything, and if they still don’t like it, they can spit it out. And when they try and enjoy it, I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.
Sometimes Andie and I have to work during the weekends and we can’t take the kids out to play the entire day, which is why meal times are really important to us.
You post lots of Aden and Avery’s pictures on Instagram. What are your thoughts about putting them in the limelight?
I’m more worried about strangers calling their names, and they’ll think it’s someone they know. lnce, someone came to Aden and pinched his cheeks – we didn’t even know who the guy was. And we told Aden to run if someone does this to him again.
I’m also afraid that the pictures may cause his peers to poke fun at him when he starts formal schooling. I don’t know if this will happen, but we are prepared to delete (all public) footage and pictures of our kids when they reach a certain age, out of respect for their privacy. te’re also always observing Aden to see if he likes being in front of the camera. But he’s still very young, so I don’t think he knows how to differentiate acting from everyday life.
He just ﬁnds ﬁlming fun and enjoyable. Maybe when he’s older, and peer pressure is a factor, then he’ll have a different mentality.
What are some parenting problems you have faced?
I think it’s similar to what other parents face. lne example is school refusal – and this was a huge headache for us. Aden doesn’t like going to school and every time we send him to school, he’ll cry.
then Aden is with me, he’s very happy because he has lots of freedom, whereas in school, there are lots of rules and he has to learn to be independent. I feel that I didn’t prepare him for school well enough, which is why he ﬁnds it so painful.
But I’m someone who always think of all the possible ways to solve a problem. So each time he brings home his drawings, I’ll praise him in a very serious tone: “You probably didn’t draw this. You bought it from the department store, right? Since you’re so good at it, you don’t have to go to school anymore.”
Andie is very cooperative, too. Maybe it’s because we are actors, so we don’t over-react – kids can tell when you do that. That’s when they realise something is amiss. This way, it helps our kids understand that going to school makes them smarter.
How does your parenting style differ from Andie’s?
There aren’t any differences, and we don’t play good or bad cop. te came to an agreement that if the kids have done something wrong, it’ll not make
any difference if they look for either of us.
te don’t raise our voices, but we’ll ask the kids nicely if they think such behaviour is correct. rsually, Aden will sob and say no. He’s not one to throw a tantrum when he’s unhappy. I’ll explain it to him and he’s quick to understand the situation.
Since we are on the topic of discipline, which methods work for you?
It really depends on what they’ve done wrong. For example, Aden tends to control his bladder when he’s playing with toys or watching TV. It comes to a point when he can’t control it any further, and urinates on the ﬂoor.
Then, I’ll ask him if he thinks this is correct behaviour, before getting him to clean it up. I’ll let him bear the consequences of his actions.
lftentimes, when the little one does something wrong, most parents will scold and settle the problem for them. But kids need to learn that certain actions lead to certain consequences. It doesn’t feel good, but they need to deal with the discomfort.
And in situations where he is fussing over a candy, I’ll explain to him nicely and ﬁrmly why he can only have it after dinner, and I’ll keep repeating myself. After a while, he thinks Mum is a broken recorder (laughs), and he’ll walk away. He is still unhappy about it, but he’s not able to do anything because I won’t give in to his requests.
Do you believe in the phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child”?
I believe that in the past, parents scolded and hit their children because they love them. But in this age, if we continue to use such methods, it’ll cause them to distance themselves, which might result in them mixing with bad company.
Technology is so advanced now, and there are lots of ways to make friends. They might think people out there care for them more, and they will never think that their parents love them the most.
So I’ve always try to move away from such methods of teaching my kids.
It’s not easy juggling a business and family. How do you achieve work-life balance?
My kids are my top priority and they are the most important people in my life. If I have to sacriﬁce one, work will deﬁnitely go. But I’m very grateful for the people around me – my husband, friends and co-workers – they’ve helped to shoulder a lot of my responsibilities.
Andie always says I’m someone who messes things up very easily, but there’re lots of people around me that will ﬁll up the holes.
Achieving work-life balance can be very challenging for lots of working mums as kids and work are a separate issue – they can’t bring the little ones to work. Thankfully, my work has a family-friendly culture, so there aren’t really any sacriﬁces to be made.
How has Andie supported you?
My husband has been very supportive in everything that
I do – and I mean, everything. Starting the company was his idea. I’m someone who is afraid of inconvenience and I don’t want to assume lots of responsibilities. I don’t have lots of dreams, but my goal was always to be a housewife.
That aside, I still need to work hard, earn money and support the family – before
I can do nothing at home. I’ve also made it clear to him that my dream is to not do anything (laughs), and he is very supportive of it.
He dotes on me and loves me very much. bven when I suggest the most ridiculous ideas, he won’t stop me, but he’ll gently remind me about the underlying problems and issues it would bring.
But dreams aside, we have to work hard ﬁrst.
Are there any plans to have more kids in the future?
I don’t mind having lots of kids – three is the perfect number for me. But there are some concerns. Firstly, once I’m pregnant, I’ll stop work for one to two years, and there won’t be any income during this period of time.
Also, I’m not that young anymore, so having more kids will not be that easy. But that said, we’ll let nature take its course.