Support Is Available For New Fathers
Because Your Parenting Is A Model For Your Kids’ Future Families
As the adage goes, parenthood doesn’t come with a manual. However, women have access to a wealth of resources to help them cope with the highs and lows of being a new mother, both before and after the birth of a child. These same support services generally aren’t afforded to fathers.
“Regardless of age, all men approach fatherhood with the same apprehension and anxiety,” says Bryan Tan, CEO of the Centre for Fathering.
The 2009 Fatherhood Public Perception Survey found that 95% of fathers agreed that “being a father and raising children was one of the most fulfilling experiences a man can have”. However, fathers cited work responsibilities, financial pressures and a lack of parenting resources as the top challenges they faced as parents.
Tan suggests that these anxieties and challenges about fatherhood can be mitigated by mentors and community support. Since Father’s Day in 2000, the Centre for Fathering has been empowering fathers to become active role models and has helped more than 37,000 men to build and nurture healthy relationships with their children.
“CFF runs programs that heighten an awareness of the needs of spouses and children at significant lifecycle stages,” Tan explains. In conjunction with the Dads for Life movement, the non-profit coordinates a range of activities and events from private coaching and fathering workshops to sessions for expecting parents.
The centre runs full-day adventure camps every month, which include rock-wall climbing, a rope challenge course and a dark maze designed to foster father-child interactions.
On a personal level, Tan acknowledges that fatherhood can be difficult. “I was never comfortable with seeking help, so fathering was a pretty lonely journey for me,” admits the father of three. “At least till I found a community of support and mentors who could provide guidance.”
When Tan took part in a Breakfast with Dad workshop run by the Centre for Fathering in 2015, he realised he didn’t know his kid as well as he should. “He could not recognise my voice when I shouted ‘I love you’ from around a blind corner,” Tan recalls. “That event compelled me to start investing in my relationship with my children, daily, and to make every moment count.”
Inspired to serve alongside a network of fathers who are passionate and serious about changing the future for their children, Tan left a 20-year career in the military and accepted the position of CEO of the Centre for Fathering in 2016.
The benefits of a father figure in a child’s life are manifold, studies showing improved cognitive, socio-emotional, psychological and academic outcomes. As gender ideologies become more egalitarian, dual income families are on the increase and marital dissolution rates rise, there is also a heightened expectation for men to be more involved in their families.
“I think it would be inevitable for fathers to take on a greater role at home, to mitigate the additional loads that working mothers tend to take on,” says Tan.
“As fathers, we need to realise that the example that we set as sons, husbands and fathers will be modelled by our children to their children. It is our responsibility to affirm the identity and potential of our children, and this must be done by being present in their lives.”