Dr Gail Gross, recognised for her expertise in parenting education believes that dads are central to the emotional well-being of their children.
Many studies support fathers taking an active role in the upbringing of their children where their involvement can make a positive impact on children. This includes many interviews and autobiographies of prominent women that emphasise fathers’ influence on girls, such as Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright.
3 working fathers share with us their thoughts on their role as a father in this fast-paced world. Justin, 33 years, is father to a two-year daughter. Shah, 44 years, is father to three children aged 5 to 11 years. Finally, Yoon Pin is father to four aged 18 to 22 years.
Yoon Pin believes that a father has four responsibilities – one, to influence and impart values; two, to confer a healthy identity; three, to provide security, especially emotional security; four, to affirm a child’s potential.
“I believe that when I discharge these responsibilities effectively, my children will grow up anchored with a moral compass and not easily swayed by undesirable influences. They will be confident of themselves - their self-worth will not depend on the haves/have nots, their positions in the society and what others think of them. They will not need to prove their worth nor to gain approval from men,” Yoon Pin said.
For Shah, educating and inculcating children with the right values are what he thinks are the critical responsibilities of a father. “With the right values and principles, my children will be able to live, adapt and cope with life challenges and live in any society they choose.”
Justin hopes his daughter will learn “to always be kind, loving, to always have fun doing whatever it is she loves.” And he teaches her by embodying the values he wants her to grow up having.
To Shah, being a hands-on father is being able to change his children’s diapers since birth, to feed, bathe, put them to sleep, attend to their crying, changing their clothes and just about any other act that a mother can do.
Justin doesn’t think there is a measure of a hands-on father but the nature of his wife’s work requires her to travel a fair bit and keeps her busy on weekends. This naturally means that he is the ‘de facto parent in-charge’ of his daughter’s care.
Keeping Up with Tech Trends
As a father, Shah finds himself trying to keep up with the fast changing pace of technology. With the vast amount of information and mature content available to children these days, children are a lot more “smarter” and want to make their own decisions which he sometimes grapples with.
“How my kids know about certain topics which I didn’t even think about before I turn 20 stumps me. Their ability to keep up with the latest trends in fashion, sports, music and movies is astounding but troubling,”
Concurring, Yoon Pin agreed that social media and online games are a key challenge for today’s parents. “There is nothing wrong about these things per se but children tend to have difficulty keeping themselves from spending too much time on these platforms. This affects their school work and even the self-esteem and psychology of an immature child.”
Yet, to deprive children of modern technology would be futile and likely result in conflicts. On how he coped with the potential toxicity of social media/online games, Yoon Pin revealed that he intentionally spent time in doing physical activities with his children such as reading bedtime stories when they were young, going to museums and attending music concerts to balance the influence digital media has on them.
Where to Turn to for Advice?
For Justin, Dwayne Johnson (The Rock), Jason Momoa and Chris Hemsworth are his role models in parenting. On a more serious note, Justin suggests “multiple parenting sites to refer to for tips. You’ll find out very quickly that most parents face the same problems!”
Shah agreed that the internet has a lot of information to offer, although the values which he holds close are those taught from his grandmother, mother and mother-in-law.
Restoring the ‘kampong spirit’, Yoon Pin created a community for fathers to journey together to become better fathers. “Through this community, fathers need not struggle alone in their journey, but can lean on one another for support. Together, we can build stronger families, society and nation,” said Yoon Pin.
Tips for Other Dads?
“Enjoy every second because your children are only young once and the time passes too quickly,” Justin shared wistfully.
“After having 4 children, I come to realise that children do not necessarily have the same values as their parents. Every child is different and I need to be very intentional and proactive in improving myself as a father for the sake of strengthening (my) relationship with all my children,” shared Yoon Pin. “Parenting is a tall order but with love, everything is possible and worth it.”