Li Cunxin

Who better for haven to sit down and talk fatherhood with than Queensland Ballet’s artistic director and Mao’s Last Dancer author Li Cunxin who has previously also been named Australian Father of the Year #parentinggoals Li’s children include Sophie (28), Tom (24) and Bridie (19).

Take us back to the moment you first became a dad. What do you remember?
It was July 12, 1989. With Sophie’s birth, I became a dad for the first time. Although I thought that I was mentally prepared to be a father, I was overwhelmed, to say the least. I was scared of not being good enough and wondering how to be a good father. The sense of responsibility truly petrified me, as I suddenly felt so exposed and unprepared for the enormity of what was ahead of me. However, I was somewhat comforted by seeing the happy and con dent face of my wife, Mary.

Did you have any big fears or concerns before having children? Did they come true? Because my own father had set such a high standard as a wonderful father, I really had no idea if I could be good enough. But nevertheless, I put on a brave face in front of my wife and always hid my fears. In the end, my love for my child and the great sense of pride and joy that they give me have made me a better father and human being.

What is your favourite way to bond with your kids? When they were young it was reading bedtime stories and playing games they liked. As they’ve grown up I love nothing more than cooking with them in the kitchen and then sitting down to share a family meal.

If you could pick one superpower to help you with your daily ‘dad’-ly duties, what would it be and why? TIME!! I’d love to find more time and share more laughter with my children and love them more.

When you’re at home, what is your favourite time of the day? Meal times with my whole family, because they are just like the special times I remembered and treasured when I was a child in China.

What is one thing your kids do that drives you absolutely crazy? Undisciplined behaviours, such as not making their beds or not washing their dishes.

Do you have any family traditions? Yes, our family dinner on Chinese New Year Eve with red money bags for good luck and traditional dishes like dumplings and whole sh.

Describe a day in your home using a song title? ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys

What skill or trait did you get from your parents that you hope to pass onto your kids? Honesty, integrity, dignity and good work ethic – and dumpling-making skills.

What lessons do you hope your kids pass onto their own children that they’ve learned from you and your partner? The above mentioned, plus passion, dedication and positivity.

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