In the recent Budget speech, it was announced that fathers of children born from 2024 onwards will be entitled to four weeks of paid paternity leave, double of what is currently offered. This is to encourage fathers to be more involved in parenting and move away from the notion that mothers should bear most of the responsibility when it comes to childcare.
While mothers and fathers have different roles to play in parenting, both are equally important to a child’s development.
Many studies have shown that there are tremendous benefits to the child and the family’s wellbeing when fathers are more involved in parenting. Some of these benefits include:
Better language skills in children: When communicating with children, mothers tend to use words that are in the child’s known vocabulary, while fathers ask more questions and introduce new vocabulary to the child . This helps to build the child’s language and communication skills.
Improved social competencies for children: Fathers engage in play with their children more frequently than mothers. Through play, fathers encourage children to explore, take risks, overcome challenges and be more confident, thereby building up the child’s social competencies .
Stronger marriage: Having a child is an exciting yet challenging journey that may put a strain on some marriages. However, when you share in the responsibilities of parenting, you can better connect with your spouse and navigate parenthood together. A study reported that wives felt loved and cared for when their husbands are more involved in parenting .
So, with these benefits, how can fathers play a more active role in parenting?
Have fun: Play is an important part of developing a strong and healthy relationship with your child. Engaging in fun games or an activity that both you and your child would enjoy is a great way to spend time together. In addition, taking your child out for an activity allows your spouse to take a break from childcare and enjoy some me-time.
Be present: Be there for your child on special days such as the first day of school, important events and competitions. Being present shows that you care and value your child despite your other responsibilities. On top of that, be intentional to set aside time every day to talk to your child and get to know them better. Some questions you could ask are: “What did you learn in school today?”, “Who are your best friends?”, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.
Ask for help: Communicate with your spouse to understand how she would like to be supported. If you still feel helpless and unsure about how you can be more involved, do not be afraid to reach out to doctors, counsellors or parenting experts for help.
Fatherhood might be a challenging experience, but with love and the right strategies, it can definitely be an enriching journey of a lifetime!
TOUCH Parenting aims to strengthen parent-child relationships by providing parents with relevant parenting resources through every stage of their parenting journey. It conducts informative talks and workshops which empower parents with knowledge on preparing for and raising a new-born, navigating the digital age with their child, parent-child communication, and nurturing resilient children and youths. It is also appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development as the Parent Support Provider (PSP) for Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore.
1. Yogman, Michael W., and Amelia M. Eppel. “The Role of Fathers in Child and Family Health.” Engaged Fatherhood for Men, Families and Gender Equality, 2021, pp. 15–30., https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-75645-1_2.
2. “Involved Fathers Play an Important Role in Children's Lives.” Institute For Research On Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Feb. 2020, https://www.irp.wisc.edu/resource/involved-fathers-play-an-important-role-in-childrens-lives/#_edn15.
3. Gray, Barbara Bronson. “Dads Who Bond with Kids Help Keep Marriage Strong.” Phys.org, Phys.org, 13 June 2013, https://phys.org/news/2013-06-dads-bond-kids-marriage-strong.html.