Fathers have important role to play in parenting

A father walking with his daughter to school.
A father walking with his daughter to school.PHOTO: ST FILE

A father taking an active role in parenting does impact a child's self-esteem and ability to build trusting relationships with others, which in turn influences the child's perceptions of life.

A father can get involved by simply lending a listening ear to his spouse, helping out with household chores, and spending time with their child to give his spouse some time to herself.

Some fathers may feel ambivalent about trying to play the role of a mother by caring for the child physically and psycho-socially. With some guidance, I believe fathers are capable of this.

However, I think that it is important for fathers to be fathers, and not try to be mothers.

The thought of being as effective as a "mother" may prove too daunting for some fathers, which may explain their hesitation to take paternity leave (6 in 10 dads did not take paternity leave last year, says MSF, Aug 7). This failure to take paternity leave may unfortunately be perceived by some as a lack of involvement in parenting, although there are already domestic helpers or other relatives at home to support the mother.

Being a father means different things to different men due to factors such as how they were brought up by their own fathers.

Being a father is simply doing one's best to protect the family by bringing joy, security, fun and optimism in life to every member, because most mothers draw strength, energy and motivation to love and care from a healthy and respectful spousal relationship.

When a father's motivation to play an active role in his child's life springs from being appreciated and recognised for his effort, then taking paternity leave becomes a joy to be anticipated, not a demand.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2019, with the headline 'Fathers have important role to play in parenting'. Print Edition | Subscribe