8 Ways to be A Better Father to Your Teenager
The Straits Times
Republished with Permission
16 January 2022
It is generally challenging to connect with one's teenage children and it is especially so for fathers, who may find themselves feeling disconnected from their children during adolescence, experts say.
"Dads may experience greater distance from their teenagers as, traditionally, parental involvement from fathers is lower compared with mothers, who tend to be the main caregivers," says Ms Susan Koh, a family life expert from charity Focus on the Family Singapore.
"As mums play a nurturing role in the family, teens prefer to confide in their mums, who are more attuned to their feelings and provide support as they go through an emotionally turbulent phase."
Its Survey For Children 2020 found that pre-teens aged 10 to 12 generally rated their relationships with their father an average of 8.03 out of 10 and mother 8.62 out of 10. This was higher than teenagers aged 13 to 15, who gave their dads an average 7.44 rating and mums an 8.09 rating. The survey polled 1,052 respondents aged 10 to 15.
Ms Koh adds that fathers can also be a "stabilising force for teens" during the pandemic. "Given their problem-solving nature, they are better at helping teens explore different perspectives of what they are facing and coming up with possible solutions to deal with challenges calmly."
It is not just boys, but girls can also benefit from being close to their dads.
A father's presence is important in boosting girls' self-esteem, says Ms Koh.
"Statistically, girls who are distant from their dads tend to look for affection in the wrong places and are more predisposed to body image problems, early sexual experiences and teen pregnancy."
Focus on the Family's Survey For Children 2020 revealed that "it is conversations with dads that are most important to help boys feel connected and loved", says Ms Susan Koh, a family life expert from the charity.
Focus on the Family Singapore offers parent-coaching sessions at $20 for two sessions. Find out more here. It also holds parenting webinars and offers parenting podcasts.