Thursday, August 14, 2008


From TODAY, Voices,
Thursday August 14, 2008

Just being there makes a difference

Stephanie Uy

WE REFER to “It’s time to change gender stereotypes” and “The struggling father” (Aug 12).

We strongly agree that fathers need to assume greater responsibility in parenting and that it requires a major change in attitudes. The role of fathers should extend beyond the traditional expectation of just being a provider. Fathers are important in the leadership of their families, as role models for both sons and daughters and to discipline them too.

It has been said: “Tie a boy to the right man and he almost never goes wrong.” As a young boy starts to develop a masculine identity, he typically yearns for the attention and involvement of his dad and tries to imitate his behaviour. A father provides that masculine role model for his son to emulate.

At the onset of puberty, both boys and girls desperately need a father’s supervision, guidance and love. For a daughter, how her father treats her during childhood will have significant impact on her future relationships. A father models love and respect for his children through the way he treats their mother.

In the area of discipline, there are certain behavioural problems that fathers are more ideally suited to handle. A father’s masculine demeanour makes it easier for him to deal with defiance in teenagers. Values are caught, not taught. Conveying attitudes and values to children through daily routine interactions is far more effective than lecturing or scolding.

But parents need to be available, have the energy to converse and connect with their kids and be intentional in passing on values to them. Sadly, fathers are often overcommitted and preoccupied; mothers are also actively pursuing careers. So, who is at home with the kids?

An article in Scientific American titled “The Origins of Alienation”, by Dr Urie Bronfenbrenner, cited a study that measured the average amount of time spent by middle-class fathers in the United States with their young children.

Fathers are often overcommitted and preoccupied; mothers are also actively pursuing careers. So, who is at home with the kids?

The result was a mere 37 seconds a day. This may not accurately represent the involvement of Singaporean fathers, but the statistic may, regrettably, not be too far fetched.

Dr James Dobson, family psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family, imparts this advice to busy fathers: “Give priority to family. Those kids around your feet will be grown up and gone before you know it. Don’t let the opportunity of these days slip away from you. When you stand where I am today, the relationship with those you love will outweigh every other good thing in your life.”

The writer is the content manager for Focus on the Family Singapore Limited, a local charity dedicated to the strengthening of families in Singapore.

Email your views to
Post a Comment