Work-life Balance and Fathering

April 05, 2013

In response to Gillian Teo’s article “So you really want a more flexible workplace?” (April 4), we would like to shore up the fact that the role of a father in a child’s life cannot be understated. The Dads for Life movement has been emphasising this message and it is heartening to see more fathers now being actively involved in their children’s lives.

However, in one of their papers Barriers to Balance: Factors Linked to Fathers’ Use of Work-Life Initiatives, the movement found that Singapore mothers (44%) are slightly more likely than fathers (39%) to define the father’s role as a “breadwinner”. It is telling that we should first work on re-looking at our own perceptions of the role of a mother and a father. For instance, a father’s role extends beyond bringing home the bacon to raising confident sons and secure daughters. And to do that, he would definitely need to dedicate quality time to his children.

Colleagues and bosses need to recognise that when fathers do take advantage of the work-life policies that are in place, they should not feel like they are being marginalised because of a perceived notion that they lack commitment to their job. A father’s unwillingness to work overtime or help colleagues with extra work can be a real concern in some workplaces, and this may translate into lower performance evaluations, smaller salary increases, and fewer promotions for him.

Once again, there is a need to enlighten marketplace leaders and the workforce in general on the benefits of instituting work-life harmony policies; and perhaps progressively introduce these guidelines into our society.

Work-life conflict is not a new phenomena and many have offered various options on how to manage it. Even as we learn from other nations and private organisations, let us not forget about renewing our mindset on helping fathers resolve this discord.

Julie Samuel
Work-life Specialist
Focus on the Family Singapore
www.family.org.sg

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