What if my son wants to be YouTuber and Gamer? Or to be a basketball or soccer player?
I am not saying these careers are not viable but some traditional Dads (and parents) might still prefer the “traditional” get-a-degree-then-good-job path.
Anyway, I attended a Dads for Life forum (Dads@School) recently with my buddies (Winston, Kelvin, Nick and David). I wanted to know how we can encourage more Dads to be involved in the family, to be a more active parent.
Let me try to share a few trends and challenges highlighted by the participants.
1) From MSF (and VWOs) experiences, Minster (Min) Tan Chuan Jin highlighted some of the underlying factors for kids going astray. Most of these kids either have an absent Dad, or dysfunctional family. No one doubts the importance of a fatherly role in a child’s early years.
2) Panel members urge parents not to give “Leftover” time for the kids.
Be Present and Attentive, and actively plan programs to engage the kids. Sometimes, what the kids need is only a listening ear. If kids perceive that our work and other commitment are more important than them, it is unlikely to help in building a relationship.
Min Tan ask us the audience to ponder and ask ourselves what we would be thinking in our last phase on Earth.
Work, achievements, Families?
I thought we need not wait until that final chapter. If we should “depart” tomorrow, or if Doctor should suddenly tag us with an “Expiry date” tomorrow, what is my immediate thoughts?
The logical answer is Family and kinship, but we are sometimes caught in the day to day activities, and we need to remind ourselves of the priorities in life. Reality is some parents need to work extra to make ends meet.
3) I wish to be a Dad for Life. Even when they have their own family, I am still their Dad. But to have a healthy relationship, we need to nurture and invest our time and effort when the child is still young.
As an analogy, it was not so cool for Dads to sling their babies maybe twenty years ago, look at the trendy “Tote” bags nowadays, some designed exclusively for Dads!
Today, there might still be stigma if Dads go home early, or even claim child-care leave for family time, but society is evolving and more dads wish to be more active.
Interestingly, testimonials of spouses (whose husbands are in PSG – Parents Support Group) are very supportive of Dads getting more involved. It creates more opportunities for Dads to bond with kids, and more free time for mums 🙂
4) The topic changed to education, teenage angst and the questions came fast and furious.
We always hear how parents should work together with teachers and schools for the betterment of kids, but the reality might be different.
– “Whatsapp groups” among parents of primary and secondary kids :
This might be helpful to keep parents aware of school curriculum, but some parents are using these groups to monitor the teachers!
– Parents might undermine teachers’ authority (eg challenging and disapproving of teachers’ decision)
– Tracking of our kids’ activities, we might be asking why our kids always no homework
Worse, we might be doing all this infront of the kids, subconsciously telling the little ones that we can override teachers’ decision.
Our education system is not perfect yet, but I truly believe that partnership is the way forward. Teaching is challenging enough, finding passionate teachers is hard. Now teachers have to deal with parents with sense of entitlement!
And some parents will even outsource parenting to schools! I agreed wholeheartedly with Min Tan that parents are a child’s best teachers and home is the best school.
5) Rat race – Min Tan highlighted his own dilemma when his kids were growing up.
We all know about the billion dollar tuition/enrichment industry, we sometimes hear about peers sending kids to this and that enrichment.
Min Tan (and I am sure many parents) was wondering whether he was shortchanging the kids by not exposing them to more opportunities.
( image credit Robert Nozick – Philosophical Explanations)
Edwin Choy shared an inverted triangle with us, benchmarking a score of 100 against a child’s life stages. If the child is “Alive and Human”, we already score 80 out of 100 points (wow!). The child will score another 10 points with acquired skills, and the last 10 points are for decisions making.
So why do parents invest so much resources on enrichment efforts for only 10-points of “Skill”?
== == ==
The session was extended for more than an hour due to the enthusiastic questions.
6) A few parents highlighted their kids wish to be Youtubers and Gamers, wow every kids nowaday see this career as happening. My boy wants to be professional basketball player and is spending a lot of time in School “cca’.
We do not know whether this is a passing phase but parents might face a dilemma in engaging the kids.
Some might chide the kids that Gamers no future, and pay more attention on their degrees. Some other parents might engage the kids further and ask them to think about “how to be the best Gamer”.
In the learning process, a child might understand more about his strength and amount of effort needed to fulfill his own dream, ie in gaming term, unlock their own achievement.
7) A lot of parents ask about teenage anxiety. The teenagers are ok, but the parents suffer panic mode.
Edwin Choy reminds parents to be CALM, Unshockable!
Even when kids are testing our resolve and patience, we must appear calm on the surface. Once we response and argue back, egos might prevent us from having a constructive conversation. If we parents are easily trigger by every incidence, we will get high blood pressure and heart attack!
On a side note, Dads want to appear Cool to our kids, join them in nerfguns or soccer sessions. But the opposite is more likely. One lecturer laments that he is labeled as “Cool” in school, but his kids think otherwise!
But we can be more than Cool, we can let the kids know that Home and Family is always their bedrock. We will provide advice and listening ear when they have issues.
8) Interestingly, panel members also shared how their kids’ results plummet when they go to secondary school.
Is this esteem, attitude, self exploratory phase?
Our eldest boy has no problem settling down in school, but his results are far from ideal (subjective).
We have been teenagers ourselves before, and I was not exactly the obedient child :p
Meanwhile, I will keep on encouraging my kids to try harder next time.
But when do we draw the line and set an ultimatium?
I am fine if he flunks his exams and need to repeat another year, I hope he will take the opportunity to improve.
He need not even score As or Bs, I just wish to see him put in more efforts.
But the main caretaker (Mom) is more stressed and not ready to accept her child will need more time to “mature” and drive own path. I do ask the Missus whether the shoutings will help, as I only see herself getting more stressed.
I always want them to be streetsmart and be resilient, they can always catch up on studies later.
Read how I am leveraging on sports to engage the kids.
Going back to kids’ aspirations to be Youtuber or Gamers, I still do not have an answer.
To encourage the child to be creative and entrepreneur or to curtail his adventures with pragmatism?
(we still need a roof, three meals etc)
How would you handle the situation?
Dads for Life is trying to reach out to more Dads to participate in School activities.
I believe most Dads are interested, but still hesitate about weekend time commitments.
Fellow Dads, shout if you need help, you need not be alone 🙂
Do pop by Daddy Matters too.