While the Singapore Government aims to involve fathers in child-rearing by giving up to two weeks of paid paternity leave, traditional attitudes that see women as the be-all in this department may still hold sway. That’s a mentality that Richard Hoon, president of the Centre for Fathering and CEO of headhunting firm I Search Worldwide, is working to change.
He encourages fathers to observe their off spring as they grow up, to gain insight into their interests. “If you force them into being someone they’re not, not only will they be unhappy and possibly fail, they may waste 10 years before winding up doing exactly what they wanted in the first place.”
That said, he’s not particularly worried about fathers from the millennial generation. “Fatherhood is in vogue with them. They’re generally better educated and financially well-off and they find it cool to change diapers, carry their child and spend time with them as a new-age Dad,” he observes.
Hoon stresses that physical and emotional fatherlessness felt by a child can have adverse effects on society as a whole. “Do you know how a child spells ‘love’? It’s ‘t-i-m-e’,” he says, urging fathers to carve out time for their kids no matter how busy work gets, even if it means giving up personal time for leisure. Hoon says: “Impart your values to your children while they’re still at an age when they will listen, because they won’t when they’re 18.”
The centre is not just talk. It now oversees a 4,450 sq ft Dads Adventure Hub at The Tennery in Bukit Panjang, a donation from Far East Organization completed last year. The hub includes a rock-climbing wall and obstacle course, as well as space for fathering workshops and counselling sessions that will improve father-child bonding.
PHOTOGRAPHY Vee Chin
ART DIRECTION Jean Yap
CHAIR Arflex Hug Armchair, available at Space