Unhealthy to follow one parent's style

Ms Monica Christine Fernando, a marriage and family counsellor at Reach Counselling, recounts a case in which one couple's parenting differences led to loneliness, adultery and divorce.

"The mother felt she should be the nurturing, care-giving one, on top of holding a full-time job as a civil servant.

The father, a businessman, was soft-hearted. For example, he tried to help discipline the children, but they sometimes did not listen and would ask their mother what she thought instead.

They are now in their 40s and their two daughters are in their teens.

On one occasion, the husband wanted to buy a guitar for one of the daughters. The wife said no because she felt it cost too much. I don't recall the exact amount, but guitars can cost hundreds of dollars. The mum played the dominant role in parenting and the father played a passive role. He had to follow her parenting style.

It has to be both parents equally putting in effort in parenting, which leads to a strong marriage.

MS MONICA CHRISTINE FERNANDO, a marriage and family counsellor at Reach Counselling

A lot of families function this way. It's not healthy. It has to be both parents equally putting in effort in parenting, which leads to a strong marriage.

The wife felt she was doing everything for the family, while the husband felt he couldn't talk to the children, though he took the family on trips. After work, the wife sat with the girls to go through their studies.

He felt neglected and could not find a connection to his family and became involved with another woman.

The husband and wife came for counselling and they both cried because they valued the family unit. The bond is strong, it's difficult to separate emotionally and physically. Even though you want to divorce, it is painful."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 25, 2016, with the headline 'Unhealthy to follow one parent's style'. Print Edition | Subscribe