Recounting her relationship with her dad during her teen years, Rae Fung shared, “As a teen, I did not have a very close relationship with my dad. In fact, there were many challenges that put a strain on our relationship.”
Yet, a pivotal moment was when she attended Focus on the Family Singapore’s signature father-daughter signature event, Date with Dad.
“I fondly remember the Date with Dad experience as it was a very safe space for my dad and me.
“At Date with Dad, I had the opportunity to write a letter to my dad. As I wrote it, I was reminded of all the things that he has done for me that made me feel loved. That helped me open my heart to kickstart the process of getting closer to my dad again.”
After a two-year hiatus, Date with Dad this year facilitated meaningful one-on-one time for 155 father-daughter pairs over a High Tea experience at Hilton Singapore Orchard on Saturday, 12 November.
These participants joined over 3,200 fathers and daughters who have been impacted by the Date with Dad experience across the past 11 years. Since 2009, Date with Dad has created many special memories and long-lasting father-daughter connections for its participants, including fathers who are incarcerated, as part of the Yellow Ribbon Project.
A recent survey by a group of SMU students of 62 daughters aged 24 and below found that close to 60% clocked less than 3 hours of quality time with their father a week. Some of the biggest hurdles to a positive father-daughter relationship include the generational gap, authoritarian parenting, and communication difficulties.
To help bridge this gap in communication, Date with Dad allows fathers and daughters to spend quality time through activities and games. Fathers were also given the opportunity to affirm and celebrate their teen daughter’s milestone and journey to becoming a confident young woman.
Having fun with one another through games.
Tan Chin Hwee, a father who participated in Date with Dad with his daughter Kylie in 2019, shared, “When Kylie was born, we couldn’t hold her for months as she was a premature baby.
“It’s really a blessing to see how much Kylie has grown today!”
“Looking into her eyes and pledging my commitment as a father to her was most significant as it brought back memories of how she had to fight for her life then.”
This year’s programme included a special segment where fathers and their daughter will be encouraged to invest and sow into their father-daughter relationship, as they countdown to the number of weeks before their daughter transits into adulthood. Fathers and daughters were also led to affirm the strengths they see in each other as they mark important milestones together.
In a survey of its participants from 2019, the proportion of fathers who knew how to effectively affirm their daughter grew from 45% to 95%; while 98% of daughters shared that they felt affirmed by their fathers, compared to the initial 64% prior to attending Date with Dad.
Kylie Tan, shared, “Our relationship was already quite good, but after Date with Dad, I feel I can talk to him about what I feel, not just what’s on the surface.”
Father-daughter pairs were also given the opportunity to deepen connections, facilitated through conversation starters and the presentation of a promise ring and handwritten letters to one another.
Enjoying conversations with each other.
Exchanging heartfelt words through the reading handwritten letters.
Sophia Sng, a participant at Date with Dad in 2019, recounts, "Through conversation starters, my dad verbally apologised to me for his expectations of me growing up. I remember he said that he was proud of me. Hearing that, even without reasons, felt unconditional."
Her father, Shenton Sng also reflected on how the experience impacted the way he communicates as a parent:
“Date with Dad provided me the opportunity to share my innermost thoughts with my daughter. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and truthful with my emotions.
“Today, I am happy that my daughter can have open and sometimes sensitive conversations with me anytime.
“This year, I attended Date with Dad with my younger daughter too!”
Focus on the Family Singapore, Lead of Programmes, Mr Chong Ee Jay, said, “The aspirations of fathers today go beyond simply providing for their family’s physical needs; they hope to be present to nourish their children emotionally and mentally as well.”
He added, “We hope that Date with Dad, will continue to spark off many one-on-one moments between fathers and their daughter.
“Research has shown that a positive father-daughter relationship is associated with high self-esteem in daughters. As more fathers are empowered to affirm their daughters’ value and identity, we can contribute to raising future generations of secure and confident women who will forge healthy relationships of their own and thrive in their roles – both at home and in the workplace.”
For more details about the event, head to www.family.org.sg/DatewithDad.
© 2022 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
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