Another Week Beyond – 2333

Dear Friends,

We run a fathers’ support group on Sunday mornings at the Yishun neighbourhood.  Sundays because it is the only time the fathers can spare from their busy work schedule. This week, 3 fathers came by and as one was new, we recapped the goal of the group that had been collectively decided previously.

The 3 goals were i. To have children’s best interests at heart, ii. To be a better father & iii. To learn from one another. The newest member commented that they sounded reasonable and added. “Yes, I certainly want to do my best as a father and for me, that means that my children can reach their aspirations.”  He then shared that his daughter aspires to be a nurse because she wants to help people like him. For the past 7 years, he has been using a ventricular assist device which is an electromechanical device for assisting cardiac circulation.

All 3 fathers have children aged from 10 to 11 years old and parenting was a topic that aroused much interest.  All acknowledged that disciplining with unquestionable rules will not be sustainable in the long run. They have noticed that their children are subtly registering their disapproval of such methods. A father shared that his son will quietly reflect on his parenting decisions and he is mindful that he needs to change his methods.

The best interest of their children mattered but there was also another factor that pushed the fathers. 2 fathers shared that their spouses do not appreciate harsh parenting methods, and they do not want their blissful marriages soured by parenting disagreements. One father who had shifted to gentler discipline methods found it preferable. “I am glad that my wife and I are on the same team when it comes to our child,” he added.

To help the fathers empathise with their children’s needs, we asked them to recall what their childhood was like. Were there events they considered significant and if so, why. One recalled that he was usually at home helping his parents with their business matters while his siblings were out at school or with friends. He would translate the letters addressed to parents and help with household chores.  He remembers having a rebellious period which he now reckons was the result of a childhood burdened by adult concerns.

Another recalled that he was really naughty but did not say more and the 3rd father shared a harrowing experience of wetting his pants in class, which left him feeling humiliated and afraid. He could not speak English and when he asked permission to go to the toilet in his mother tongue, he was told to sit down. He also remembered being punished for it even after several weeks. Thankfully, he has gotten over it and recognises that he was not at fault but the adults caring for him did not respond well.

It is not a not a secret that the majority of neighbourhood leaders and members in community groups are women. Men often say that they are too busy at work or too tired after. However, the idea of community appeals to these men, and they left the session energised and looking forward to the next one.  The onus is on us to value the little time they have and to hold a safe space for authentic conversations and connections.

For peace and community,

Gerard

Great fathers don’t find fault. Great fathers find solutions.” —Reed Markham

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