By Raphael Zhang and Samantha Chin | 19 May, 2017
An edited version of the above, “Time to affirm and encourage dads”, was sent to Straits Times Forum on 17 May, 2017.
This Father’s Day weekend is a good time to affirm the irreplaceable and crucial role of fathers.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin stressed that a father’s involvement in a child’s life has to begin as early as possible.1 He said fathers play equally important roles as mothers in nurturing children, contributing to more resilient families.2 In the same article, Centre for Fathering stated that when fathers fulfil the developmental needs of their children during the primary school years, they better prepare them to find their own identity during adolescence.
This is corroborated by research showing that fathers are just as important as mothers in influencing how a child develops mentally, socially and emotionally. Father-child interactions can either damage or enhance a child's language development, problem-solving abilities and social skills. This influence is separate from the mother’s, and extends to children as young as two years old.3
Another study revealed that fathers who treat the mother of their children with respect and deal with conflict appropriately, are more likely to have sons who understand how to respect women and less likely to act aggressively toward females. Daughters with involved, respectful fathers understand how men should treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships.4
We need to keep encouraging fathers toward more involved parenting. It is therefore heartening that the government is implementing two weeks of mandatory paternity leave as well as four additional weeks of shared parental leave.5 We are also thankful that community initiatives other than Focus on the Family Singapore’s annual Date with Dad and Adventure with Dad events are promoting active fathering, such as the Dads for Life Camp6 and Celebrating Fathers campaign.7
We recognise that not everyone has the privilege of having a great relationship with our fathers. Withholding blame and seeking reconciliation is crucial. A good way to start would be to reflect on the impact of our father’s unique role and to understand that they have done the best they knew about fathering. Thanking them for the good that they have done can encourage them to be a better father. One way to encourage fathers to persevere in being an involved Dad is through our Father’s Day Campaign, “Dad: Our Everyday Hero.”
This Father’s Day, let us affirm the dads who are actively involved in their children’s lives, as well as encourage those who would try.
Raphael Zhang and Samantha Chin
Research & Development Programme Specialists,
Focus on the Family Singapore.
1 Dads and Kids Bond at Overnight Camp; May 30
2 Fathers Have Crucial Role to Play In Maintaining Resilient Families: Tan Chuan-Jin; Feb 16
3 Nurturing Fatherhood; Jan 15
4 The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children, p11-12
5 Parliament: Public Servants to Get 4 Additional Weeks of Unpaid Infantcare Leave; Mar 2
6 Dads and Kids Bond at Overnight Camp; May 30
7 Stories of Dads to Highlight Values in Celebrating Fathers Movement; May 18
(20 Jun, 2017)
(15 May, 2017)