SINGAPORE: Singapore will soon have a "Better Fathering Index" aimed at benchmarking the father’s involvement in bringing up children.
The Index, believed to be a world’s first, is expected to be ready by the end of the year after a comprehensive survey of dads in Singapore.
Businessman and honorary secretary at the National Family Council Martin Tan is a father of two young girls. Like many in his generation, he chooses to play a more active role in bringing up his children — everything from accompanying his daughter on her first day at school to attending her ballet performances.
Tan said: "I think the key for me is the ability to create shared memories together and all the highlights of what she goes through, I like to be present as much as I can."
Anecdotally, it may be said that an increasing number of young fathers are more involved in raising their children.
And, non—profit organisation Centre for Fathering wants to come up with a benchmark to measure that. It plans to carry out a survey in the second half of 2013 to finalise what it calls — "Better Fathering Index", a novel idea to get a better feel of the state of fatherhood in Singapore.
Chairman of Centre for Fathering and National Family Council Lim Soon Hock said: "At the end of the day, there must be a set of criteria to produce this better fathering index. So it’s like the amount of time that fathers spend per day, per week, per month, per year. The kind of activities fathers engage in with children."
How can one quantify how good a father is?
Lim said: "We’re not just looking at time spent, we are also looking at the kind of activities fathers are engaging in together with the children. Of course, we wouldn’t know the outcomes till many, many years later and that will be borne by how stable families are, how resilient are families and to what extent can we manage dysfunctional families? And how well their children are performing academically in schools? How emotionally stable they are? I think there are enough research out there that shows when fathers spend more time with their children, the children are going to benefit not just emotionally but also academically. So we just have to have an index to get a better understanding, better feel of the state of fatherhood in Singapore."
Experts said the role of the father is evolving. With more dual income families, they said fathers need to be more involved in bringing up children.
President of I Love Children and a mother of five, Joni Ong, said: "Certainly as mothers we really appreciate that a lot. Just giving that me time. Sometimes, (when I) come back from work, I’m so tired, dad will go ’let me take over, you go’. So yes, very important."
To better support fathers, the Centre for Fathering has trained about 40 dads in the last quarter of 2012 to train others, to become better fathers.
The centre hopes to double the number of trainers this year and wants to increase its outreach by up to 20 per cent.
It’s also planning to put together an International Advisory Panel made up of family experts. All this, as Singapore gears up to introduce progressive measures aimed at raising the country’s fertility rate and creating a conducive environment for the family.
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