Dads today have come a long way from the days when they were seen as silent, authority figures responsible mainly for bringing home the bacon. Where fathering in the past was more about providing for the family, modern dads are now more involved and play complementary roles to mums, since many mothers now too work full-time.
The clearly differentiated gender roles of the past have given way to shared parenting – a reflection of how our society has evolved. Masculinity is now defined differently. Dads are today equal parts caregivers, playmates, and best buddies, as they are disciplinarians and providers to their kids.
While all this is well and good, CEO of DadsforLife.sg and father of four Bryan Tan wonders: Are dads today adequately equipped for the multi-faceted roles they have play?
What involved fathering looks like
To Bryan, for hands-on learning to take place, wives and mothers should make room and create a safe space for fathers to learn. In fact, it is important for dads to get involved in the parenting process as early as possible in their child’s life.
He cites his own fathering experience. When his eldest child was born, he was a novice dad who was eager to learn but did not know how to help. Hence, he left most of the caregiving work – as many fathers usually do – to the “experts”, namely the confinement nanny, his wife and the respective grandmothers. But as he grew more practised and confident in his parenting skills as his family grew, he started to get involved early for his latter born kids. To this day, because of his early start caring for their needs, he has forged close bonds with his two younger children.
Involved fathers lead to better outcomes for kids
Research shows that children with more involved fathers tend to have better outcomes , academically, behaviourally as well as emotionally. But this may be challenging for financially vulnerable families where dads need to spend more time at work. In such cases, Bryan shares that it is important for these families to receive enough support so fathers can be more involved in raising their children.
Bryan also highlights the importance of well-being to being a good father. Just like mums, dads also need to care for their own mental health by having sufficient “me-time” to destress and regulate their moods. One great way he has found is having a strong support group of fellow dads who can provide advice and encouragement to each other in the tough but satisfying journey of fatherhood.
The content of this article was adapted from a Facebook Live session that Bryan Tan, CEO of DadsforLife.sg and a member of AFAM (the Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships), had with Minister of State Sun Xueling.