Strike a balance in efforts to spur active fathering

A father cycling with his child at a park in Singapore.
A father cycling with his child at a park in Singapore.PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Samuel Lee's suggestions on ways to promote active fathering, while well-intended, warrant further examination (Remove barriers that impede active fathering, Sept 2).

First, while the Government could certainly consider enhancing paternity leave, young fathers must serve the purpose of such leave by utilising the time granted for the family.

Second, while I empathise with the need for young fathers to be at home more often, allowing them to defer their national service in-camp training for the first two years after their child is born sends the wrong message to our community.

No doubt the family is important, but we must recognise that without the country, there will be no home or family to speak of.

There is a Chinese saying that translates as: "Only if the country exists, is there a home or family."

This is especially crucial at a time when the threats of terrorism are very real. It is not a matter of if, but when, Singapore will face a terrorist attack. In fact, the Government should consider defence training for women too.

Third, the Family Justice Courts rarely award shared care and control in divorce cases for a simple reason: It is not in the best interests of the child.

The Family Justice Courts rarely award shared care and control in divorce cases for a simple reason: It is not in the best interests of the child.

While allowing a child equal access to both parents might sound like a fair decision, one must consider the disruption to a child's life if he has to be shuttled between two households regularly.

While allowing a child equal access to both parents might sound like a fair decision, one must consider the disruption to a child's life if he has to be shuttled between two households regularly.

Care and control issues, like custody matters, are not about giving divorced parents equal time with the child. They require critical decisions aimed at ensuring that the child has a stable and safe environment to thrive in.

Shared care and control could very well keep a child ensnared in a perpetual tug-of-war, especially with acrimonious divorces, and may actually harm the child.

Lily Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2019, with the headline 'Strike a balance in efforts to spur active fathering'. Print Edition | Subscribe