How I Parent explores the ins and outs of modern day parenting with moms and dads from all over the world, who are raising their own unique families and sharing their best advice and most heartfelt lessons with PEOPLE. Want to be a part of it? Email what makes your family so special to howiparent@peoplemag.com.

By Diane J. Cho
August 17, 2020 09:00 AM
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Credit: Sonsern Lin

Name: Sonsern Lin

Location: Irvine, California

Occupation: Content Creator, Influencer, Social Media Marketing 

Family situation: I live with my in-laws, who help me and my wife raise our daughter.

Parenting “philosophy” in a sentence: Teach by example.

Credit: Sonsern Lin

What was your journey to having the family life you have today?

I grew up in Northern California and decided to go to UC Irvine for college, which is where I met my wife. We were friends and both part of a church group on campus before we started to develop feelings for each other. We ended up getting married and a few years later, we had our daughter who is almost two years old now.

Prior to becoming parents, my wife and I wanted to enjoy our time together before having children, so we traveled a lot and documented our trips on social media. We eventually garnered a large following, which gave us the opportunity to travel more and experience all types of food. Then when our daughter was born, we were really excited for her to start eating. As soon as she turned six months old, she started eating solids and we decided to record her food adventures, too.

Our daughter has a naturally big appetite and a strong palette. She's always been willing to try anything, so we decided to use food as a way for us to teach her about different cultures, not just our own. During that time, we mostly used Instagram to upload our family trips, but then TikTok started blowing up so we decided to upload a few of our videos on there.

The first video I ever uploaded to TikTok was one of my wife eating noodles while my daughter sits behind her, drooling like crazy. At the time, we had zero followers but the video ended up getting two million views in one day.

That's when we realized that people really enjoy watching our daughter's foodie adventures. From there, we started posting a lot of different videos and her fans even nicknamed her "Empress."

Making these fun family videos has allowed all of us to spend more time together. We love sharing our lives with everyone, but my wife and I often discuss how much we are willing to share our daughter. We really want to make sure that she's protected and that she doesn't feel obligated to participate when she's older. She's always going to have the freedom to choose what she wants to do.

Credit: Sonsern Lin

For now, we enjoy creating memories so we can look back and see everything our family has done. We never went into this thinking we were going to get famous or anything like that. We just wanted to capture all of our fun adventures together and share our experiences with others.

How did your upbringing influence your parenting style?

My mom was very involved with raising me on the day to day, but I think my dad's philosophies really had a big impact on me. They've shaped how I see life in general and how I parent. I learned that teaching by example is truly powerful because I watched what my dad did growing up, and his actions always inspired me.

Credit: Sonsern Lin

For example, when people buy new cars, they usually try to sell their old ones. When my dad would have an old car, instead of charging someone, he would give it away because he wanted to help others in need. He never told me about it or said, "You need to give away your car one day" — he just simply did it. Seeing that really inspired me, so I try to use that approach while raising my daughter.

What’s your favorite thing about parenting?

I really love being able to see her grow and experience new things. Right now she's learning how to talk, so every day she says a new word and it's just so exciting. It's so beautiful watching her develop, and it brings me such joy to see her eyes brighten when she tries a new type of food she's never had before.

What’s the hardest part?

Before parenting, you mostly think about taking care of yourself, but now there's another person you need to care for. You need a whole other level of energy to take care of them and to make sure that they're receiving the best care possible.

What's the best advice you can share with new parents?

I would really encourage parents to have fun and savor each moment because these last two years, since my daughter was born, have flown by so fast.

Credit: Sonsern Lin

What would you want your kids to say about you as a parent?

It would mean a lot to me if my daughter remembers me as someone who was present in her life for all the big things, and all the small things. I would want her to say that I cared for her and was always willing to spend time helping her pursue her hobbies and passions. If she remembers me as a parent who was always there for her, I would be very happy.