The government’s move to double paternity leave to two weeks is “a gentle nudge for fathers to rethink their role, and see it in a different light” says Dr Kang Soon-Hock, Head of Social Science Core at SIM University (Enhancements a welcome move, could urge change in attitudes, say observers, TODAY, Aug 24). We agree with Dr Kang’s observation that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement brings to the fore the crucial role fathers play.
According to Erik Erikson, a pioneer in the world of child psychology, a father’s role in parenting a child cannot be replicated by anyone else. Dads have a huge influence on the emotional and intellectual growth of their children. Numerous studies have shown that fathers play, communicate and discipline differently. Fathering experts assert that in so doing, they build confidence in the child, prepare them for the real world and provide healthy male role models for them to look up to.
Girls who have fathers who are not only committed to their mothers and family but also involved are more likely to have healthier relationships with the opposite sex because they learn from their fathers how men should act toward women. Boys who grow up with present fathers are less inclined toward acts of violence. They have their masculinity affirmed as they learn from their fathers proper male sexuality, hygiene and behavior in age-appropriate ways. Sociologist David Popenoe explains that when dads are involved, they bring positive benefits to their children that no one else is likely to bring, and that dads are far more than just “second adults” at home.
It has been encouraging to see more fathers becoming increasingly involved in their children’s lives since the start of our local Dads for Life movement. We strongly urge fathers to continue connecting with their children at the different life stages and to continue equipping themselves with the many resources available, be it online or through books, talks and workshops.
The recent move by the government certainly bodes well for the future of our children.
Head of Research and Development, Focus on the Family Singapore
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2015, with the headline ‘Father’s role in parenting a child cannot be replicated’.