10 ways to be a better dad

Become the kind of dad your kids can count on with these simple tips!

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Parenting responsibilities are usually viewed as being a mother’s domain. This is because of the vital biological role women play from the very beginning of a child’s life. But this is changing.

Notes Dean Yap, a founding member of the 100 Voices parenting group, “Increasingly, there are more fathers who are willing to come forward and take on the role of a main caregiver, even though they may not know what to do.”

100 Voices was started by dads who are passionate about how fathers can be more involved in parenting. As a parenting support group, it has a simple goal — to redefine the way parents think about what makes a successful child.

SmartParents sat down with five long-time 100 Voices fathers to get practical advice on how to be a better dad:

* Dean Yap, 42, software developer, father of three kids, aged 6 months, 6 and 9.

* Alex Chan, 46, CEO of Babbobox, father of two daughters, aged 11 and 15.

* Sunarto Quek, 52, senior lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, father of a 19-year-old daughter.

* Andy Sim, 58, Director of the Digital Innovation Team, National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, father of four young adult daughters.

* Dr Jawn Lim, 39, assistant professor (Design and Specialised Businesses Cluster), Singapore Institute of Technology, father of three daughters aged 6 months, 4 and 6.

Here are their better-dad tactics…

1. Remember, your kids are NOT strawberries

“I think all parents think their kids are soft because they have gone through hardship. My parents went through war and hardship and all that, so, they thought that we were soft. We’ve also been through experiences that make us think our children are soft. I think “strawberry generation” is just a label ― I think our children can be pretty resilient, too.”

Alex Chan

“I agree that the younger generation move on from a task when they don’t see meaning in. The ability to move on and pursue something they see meaning in is not a sign of being soft. In fact, they believe so much in themselves, they are daring enough to do something they are interested in. Our kids are brought up in the age of technology and they see the world as connected. The world they live in is very different. For us, our trust must be built over time, theirs is built on a common purpose. They can actually go to a stranger’s house and stay there [like Airbnb], so I think they are more resilient than us.”

Andy Sim

2. Recognise that your children are your teachers, too

“I have a daughter who is 19 this year. Having her made me relearn a lot of things. I realised I need to set an example for what I want her to be. Through her, I also gain a better understanding of my students. When we talk as parents, we feel that we are teaching our children but more often than not, it’s the other way round.”

Sunarto Quek

“I learned one thing: Empathy. To see the world without labels and prejudice. That’s because when you ask your child why a person does something, their answers are free from adult biases and I also learned to see the world as a better place.”

Dean Yap

3. Chuck stereotype views ― pitch in

“There shouldn’t be a boundary for what a man or woman can do. For me, at home, I wash the dishes and I clean the floor. There shouldn’t be a [specific role for man or woman]. I think it forces us into a square or a box — in terms of stereotyping.”

Alex Chan

“Be a man and sweep the floor (laughs). The typical reaction from dads is: ‘Oh, that’s not for me.’ Also, don’t [categorise tasks into] what you can do or cannot do around the house. Some typical dads think our wives are at home and we have been working in the office all day, so we should just let her handle it. But, she has been working all day too ― that’s why we should treasure the main caregiver at home.”

Dr Jawn Lim

4. Work as a tag team with your wife

“My wife and I are a tag team. We have nightly ‘AGMs’ (Annual General Meetings) where we will talk about who did what in the day. We will also spend time pondering things like who said what. And we have also both benefitted from bouncing our ideas off another person.”

Dr Jawn Lim