A version of this Forum Letter was
submitted and republished in the Straits Times Forum on 17 June, 2019.
Fathers have come a long way. From being the traditional breadwinner and
key disciplinarian in my dad’s generation, today’s dad is more involved, more
affectionate, and desires deeper connection with his children.
as a prison officer previously, I interacted with inmates from varying
backgrounds – drug addicts and hard-core criminals, among others. Through their
stories, I saw the detrimental effects of an absent father. Many of them had no
memory, or negative ones, of their dads.
Fathers generally parent differently from mothers. Research shows
that we tend to play very “actively”, like throwing a child in the air or
roughhousing. Children also often turn to Dad when they want to play, and to
Mum when they are stressed or upset.
There are many benefits when we are involved in our children’s lives, also
known as “The Father Effect”. Major longitudinal studies on families have
linked increased paternal involvement to higher educational achievement and
occupational mobility among their children. Those who are close to father
figures also tend to avoid high-risk behaviour.
Behind a successful dad
is a supportive wife. In light of distinctive parenting styles, mums can
support their husband by giving him space to parent and do things differently.
However, with the pace of life and greater work demands, fathers
struggle with enough time to maintain a strong connection with their family. A
recent TAFEP study revealed that 97% of fathers want to work for a company
which supports them in managing work and family commitments. Dads do
want to be more involved, sometimes we as a society need to give them that
Every family bears its own imperfections. Not all families have Dad and
Mum living together. For
families with absent fathers, some of us can
step up to be a father figure. It sounds daunting, but it is a legacy our
For men without a good fathering role model,
becoming the dad their children need may be a great challenge.
community, we can strive to support fathers through building intentional
friendships and sharing parenting resources. This
is why Focus on the Family Singapore runs an annual ‘That’s My Dad’ campaign –
to provide men with resources and encouragement they need to grow in their role
as engaged fathers.
Father’s Day, let’s encourage dads to be actively engaged. No longer just an
option or a good-to-have, it is absolutely essential for society’s
on the Family Singapore