Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fatherhood in Singapore

'Back to School with Dad' hopes to build bonds between father and child
12 December 2006

Sending a child to school may be a simple act but it can go a long way in bonding a parent and a child.

That is the hope of the Centre for Fathering as it embarks on a campaign to get dads to do just that when it is time to head back to school in January.

15-year-old Matthew Han is old enough to go to school on his own but his father, Paul, would rather accompany his son.

The boy himself wouldn't have it any other way. "Because he's like my alternative to coming to school later. So I won't need to wake up so early to catch the bus!"

For Paul, it is more than just giving his son more sleep time and a ride. This simple act has been a tradition with the Han family from the days when Paul was brought to school by his own parents.

"It is quality and valuable time for me. It's about 20 minutes. He has a chance to ask me, (tells me) what he likes, what his problem is. I'm not always home because I'm travelling quite substantially. So I have a good chance to talk to him."

"When we are in the car, we talk about his work, what he's doing currently, when he'll be off, when he'll be flying off, when he'll return and all his future plans to go overseas and come back since he goes overseas quite often," Matthew says.

It is this sort of bonding that the Centre for Fathering hopes other families will be able to do as well.

Seah Kian Peng, Board Member of the Centre for Fathering, says: "I think the current lifestyles are very different. All of us face a lot of demands on our time at work, and at the same time, the statistics show that indeed there are a lot of stresses a lot of families are going through."

The centre says with the conventional view of fathers as breadwinners, mothers tend to take on the parenting role. But it wants to elevate the role of fathers as it feels parenting is a shared responsibility.

"Even if it's five minutes, you have five full minutes with your child, just the two of you. Those five minutes is in the absence of TV - no distractions. You're not competing against TV, the video game, some other people in the household but it is you and your child.

I think those precious moments are to me, quality time. "Make use of the time you have with them. When they are in their teens, it's hard to recapture those moments. Honestly, it's hard to get their attention for half-an-hour one-on-one. It's very simple - the opportunity is there every day of the week," Mr Seah says.

The centre has roped in more than 30 companies to give employees time off to send their children to school. And with the response it has had so far, several thousand fathers could very well be doing that come January.

I applauded the Center of Fathering effort to elevate the role of fatherhood but this seem to be not a very logical method to start with.

Encouraging fathers to drive their kids to school?

Yes fathers and child can indeed spend quality time with in the cars but how many fathers really own a car?

Base on statistic.

In 2005, 71,042 of 778, 568 student travel to schools in cars and throwing in the 19,151 which classified as others to give a benefit of doubt to the figure.

This will bring the figure to 90,193 which is only 11.58% of the student population.

I believe the Center is heading toward the right direction but is getting it all wrong or do they wan to see some result fast and make a publicized it as quickly as possible to gain some airtime.

I feel that Singapore’s working environment is not a pro family as all.

The Center should push the government to impose flexible working hours, paternal leaves etc etc. to improve fatherhood bonding. There are so many thing they can do and I admit it is difficult but I guess this will benefit the other 88.42% of the students.

Or maybe we are looking at the Elites only?


FatBoi IN MaeSai said...

Its sad but true that most of my friends who are a father spend more time on work than on their children. One even confides to me that he worries more about making more money for the family that his son's personal development.

Its either family or career(money). Very very hard to balance two ends unless you are rich. And most people will prefer the latter as they blindly believe that money could buy some happiness for their family.

Chansters said...

Mr Chan writes:

With the kind of stressful life in SIN, I think it will be difficult for us not to spend a lot of time working cos standard of living is so high and if dun have a decent income, i am sure a lot of basic things also cannot afford in time to come......sigh....that is so sad....