In 1994, during a study abroad in Hangzhou, China, a city just outside of Shanghai, I fell in love with photography. Whether it was a response to the culture shock or a synergy of my equally left and right brain tendencies, the medium had gotten to me. I spent a year working out my transition from engineering to the arts and then never looked back.

The changes that China has undergone between then and now cannot be understated. During our visit in 2016, Hangzhou was busy hosting the world’s leaders for a G20 Summit. Shanghai and its surrounding area had factories shut down for weeks in advance of the conference so we could all be greeted with clearer skies. So much about Chinese culture is fascinating, confusing, and incredibly beautiful. It was a dream to be able to explore a glimpse of this culture through the dads who each welcomed me into their lives for a day.

• • •

dadtime_winston-0454-a


Winston Chow, Business & Brand Design Lead at Ideo
Son, Brayden (18 months)
Shanghai


“Insane amounts of love would probably guide you to making the best decisions possible in raising your kids.”
– Winston Chow


Where did you grow up?

I was born in Ohio and pretty much spent my youth in three different locations — New Jersey, Taiwan, and California.

What is the best part about raising your son in Shanghai — and the worst?
The best part is having the amazing opportunity for my son to be immersed in Chinese heritage — culture, language, history, food, and more. The worst is a toss-up between food safety, pollution, what education might be like, and being at least a flight away from all of our relatives.

 

dadtime_winston-1438

 

Did you always know you wanted to some day be a dad?
I always wanted to be a dad, but the some day was a complete unknown and
at times in my mind — the further back the better, especially as I started to uncover all the complexities and realities of the world around us. To be extremely candid, I had grown somewhat blasé about being a dad until I learned my wife was pregnant. From that day on — fear, joy, and trepidation all mushed together into a rapidly growing, emotional ball of anticipation and excitement.

 

dadtime_winston-1531

 

What is your philosophy on fatherhood?
With my extremely limited exposure thus far, fatherhood is the complicated, messy math of taking the best from your father + the worst (of your experience) as a son + generous amounts of what you and your wife have distilled from life together + sprinkles of your baby’s evolving character = a state of being that will constantly surprise, delight, scare, and shape you into being a much, much better human than you could ever imagine. I also foresee that this definition will likely evolve as I become more experienced!

 

dadtime_winston-1234

 

If there was only one thing you could give your child, what would it be?
Joy.

What has your little one taught you so far?
How absolutely AMAZING all mothers are.
And that my own parents tried their very, very best — just as I strive and struggle to do so on a daily basis.

Do you think today’s fathers have it harder, easier, or just different (from when you were being raised)?
Definitely different. On one hand, we have such a large pool of resources and information to reference, read, and research — all at our fingertips. We have tools for communication to facilitate and build digital communities with other fathers. At the same time, I think we may now have too much information and over- reliance on other sources than listening intently to our own gut and instinct, which I do believe all of us fathers are equipped with.

 

dadtime_winston-0926

 

How do you balance making time for your son and making time for yourself?
I’m still figuring that one out. Time for my baby boy does feel like (in a great way) time for myself though, probably due to my current work schedule.

What’s the secret to raising good kids?
I am completely and utterly unqualified to answer this! But my humble guess would be that there is no singular “right” way, and that the variables are so complex it seems the secret is that there is no secret. Sounds corny, but insane amounts of love would probably guide you to making the best decisions possible in raising your kids.

 

dadtime_winston-1211

• • •

dadtime_sh_anthony-0934b


Anthony Zhao, Restaurant Owner & Chef
Daughter, Phoenix (4)
French Concession, Shanghai


“The more adventures we experience together, the closer we are brought together.”
– Anthony Zhao


What is the best part about raising your daughter in Shanghai? What is the worst?

There are several great things. Shanghai is a multicultural city with a lot of different influences and many people from all over, so my daughter can make friends with people and kids from many different cultures. Shanghai is a very safe city, especially our neighborhood. There are many great parks, we have friendly neighbors, there are many cultural and artistic centers, and there are tons of kids’ activities always happening.

But there are also drawbacks. Shanghai’s air is polluted which makes me worried, and I don’t like China’s education system. These two things are what I worry about most. The traditional Chinese education system is not human- centered. It fits only a small percentage of the population. The curriculum is not related to practical life and there’s a lot of political curriculum that I don’t agree with. The concepts that are taught are the opposite of many of my beliefs.

 

dadtime_sh_anthony-0597

 

Did you always know you wanted to some day be a dad?
I never knew I would like kids so much! I never knew I would be such a good dad. But I did know that I would one day be a dad.

What is your philosophy on fatherhood?
In my childhood, I was treated very badly because my mother always wanted to control my life and didn’t want me to do anything interesting. I feel it was very diffcult with a lot of suffering. That’s why I want my kid to have better opportunities and be treated with love. I will always support her to do what she wants to do as long as it’s safe.

I want to show her more interesting things in the world. I hope she can be exposed to as many things and ideas as possible. I feel that the effort I put into her and which allows my daughter to have a better life and positive environment and opportunities to understand more of the world is one of the most important responsibilities in my life.

 

dadtime_sh_anthony-3106

 

If there was only one thing you could give your daughter, what would it be?
A healthy body.

What has your little one taught you so far?
She taught me that being a good dad is not such an easy thing. She shows me that I need to be a good living example to her, always study new things, seek more knowledge, and have greater patience.

Do you think today’s fathers have it harder, easier, or just different (from when you were being raised)?
It’s different. When I was little, my parents were poor so it was also very hard for them to give me a good life. But now the world has changed. We have a better standard of living to give to Phoenix, but kids also ask for more because they have higher demands and we have higher demands on what we want from life.

 

dadtime_sh_anthony-3358

 

How do you balance making time for your daughter and making time for yourself?
Our family has designed a set time schedule since Phoenix was born. Me and my wife always split the childcare time. For example, each of us has one day a week with Phoenix solo, and other days all together as a family. My mother also helps take care of Phoenix several days a week. This gives her time with her grandparents. So we have our own free time and also time with our daughter. It’s all very balanced. It works very well.

What’s the secret to raising good kids?
I don’t have a secret! What I do is just spend as much good quality time as I can with her. Good quality time that means you make a plan, learn new things together, and have little adventures — even something like discovering a new restaurant or a park. The more adventures we experience together, the closer we are brought together. I always bring Phoenix to new places I’ve never been before. Phoenix always says to me, “What a beautiful time!”

 

dadtime_sh_anthony-3710

• • •

dadtime_sh_lj-0207


Liu Jian, Author & Folk Rock Singer-Songwriter
Kids, Liona (4) & Leo Kai (1)
Puxi, Shanghai


 “When I was in my teens, I didn’t think at all about being a dad. When I was in my twenties I was afraid to be a dad, but in my thirties, I wanted to be a father.”
– Liu Jian


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Chinese countryside, in Henan, but I went to the city when I joined the army at age 16.

What is the best part about raising your kids in Shanghai — and the worst?
The best part about raising kids in the city is that they can get a better education, eat higher quality food, and be exposed to different cultures. The disadvantages are that the kids don’t see much nature and people are more transitory in the big cities, so many years from now when my kids think back on their youth, they may realize they haven’t maintained long-term friendships.

 

dadtime_sh_mj-1144-cl1

 

Did you always know you wanted to some day be a dad?
When I was in my teens, I didn’t think at all about being a dad. When I was in my twenties I was afraid to be a dad, but in my thirties I wanted to be a father.

If there was only one thing you could give your children, what would it be?
Love.

What have your little ones taught you so far?
Patience, responsibility, and incomparable happiness.

 

dadtime_sh_lj-1496

 

Do you think today’s fathers have it harder, easier, or just different (from when you were being raised)?
These past thirty years, China has been undergoing a great number of changes.
In Chinese history, there’s never been such a fast pace of modernization. My parents and I are like from two different countries. Chinese parents in decades past wished for their children to have enough to eat, and to grow up healthy and one day become a government official. Today’s parents wish more for their kids — they want them to learn English, to one day become a musician, an artist, or a soccer star, etc. Chinese parents of decades past put all their dreams on their children. Today’s Chinese parents pay more attention to their children’s own dreams.

How do you balance making time for your kids and making time for yourself?
Good question, I really am grateful to my wife for helping me.

What’s the secret to raising good kids?
If I knew the secret, I’d write a book and tell everyone in the whole world. For now I can only read other people’s books about the secret to raising kids, and they’re not much use I think. Every child is unique, and so is every dad. I think respect is the most important thing, and we should see our children as our friends and also our teachers. I believe that we are constantly evolving, whether it be our bodies or our minds. The next generation will be smarter than our generation and they will have skills that our generation can’t yet understand.

 

dadtime_sh_lj-1760

• • •

Callie Lipkin is an award-winning photographer, a storyteller, and a problem solver. Callie began her career in photojournalism working for several newspapers, including Aurora’s Beacon-News, and the Boston Globe where she worked side by side with Picture of the Year and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers. Along with numerous Online features of the series this past year, Callie’s Dad Time project was featured in One Eyeland’s 2016 Best of the Best Photographers book and in the 2016 APA Artist’s Perspective Exhibition. Callie lives in Chicago with her husband and three sons, the youngest of whom joined them in December. They remain her greatest inspiration.

www.callielipkin.com
Instagram @clipkin

All photographs and text © Callie Lipkin

Real Time Analytics