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‘Active fatherhood’ among challenges today’s dads face

SINGAPORE — Having grown up bereft of his father’s presence, Mr Noel Tan vowed that when it was his turn to be a dad, he would play a more active role.

Before his first child was born in 2006, he decided to work as a freelance graphic designer so he could “pay more attention” to his children and support their needs as they grow.

With society placing greater emphasis on fathers being more than just the family breadwinner, 15 fathers shared, in a closed-door dialogue chaired by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday, the issues they grapple with, such as how to be present in their children’s lives without outsourcing their fatherly duties.

The dialogue was organised alongside a day-long Father’s Day carnival at Mediacorp Campus. Incorporating activities such as a picnic and a movie screening, the event saw more than 6,000 fathers and their families turn up. It marked the culmination of the Celebrating Fathers 2017 movement launched on May 28 by the Centre for Fathering — Dads for Life and Mediacorp.

The movement to encourage and inspire active fatherhood was also supported by the National Population and Talent Division and the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

Mr Noel Tan, who attended the carnival with his 11-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter, said his mother died when he was four, and his car salesman father was kept busy providing for the family financially.

To make sure his own children did not suffer from the same lack of parental support, the 45-year-old decided to be a stay-at-home dad.

“It allows me to bond with them and fully understand their behaviour. Children grow up very quickly, and you want to be part of that journey because it’s a special thing.”

His son Ryan Tan feels “rather lucky” to find his father at home when he returns from school.

“Most of my friends hardly see their parents because they are busy working. For me, my dad is always around and I can chat with him how school was like and get advice about homework,” he said.

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