COVID-19 Has Given Fathers Chance to Bond with Kids Even As They Grapple with Economic Uncertainty
The Straits Times
Republished with Permission
20 June 2020
Mr Raphael Zhang, a family life specialist with charity Focus on the Family Singapore, notes that millennial fathers in their 20s to late 30s are discernibly more involved in their children's lives.
He points to the number of stay-at-home fathers, which has more than doubled in a decade - from about 700 in 2007 to about 1,500 in 2017 - according to the Manpower Ministry's Labour Force In Singapore report.
Dads today do not just want to be physically there for their kids, but also want to know how to be better fathers.
Against this backdrop, it is no wonder that fathers stepped up their game during the pandemic, judging from the findings of a Focus on the Family survey.
The study polled 2,418 fathers from May 25 to June 7, with the assistance of community self-help groups and the Centre for Fathering.
Seven in 10 fathers polled said they were more involved with their families, and more than eight in 10 said they connected better with their kids. In addition, four in 10 said they shared childcare duties equally with their wives most of the time.
However, this last figure contrasts with a previous survey of mothers, where fewer than three in 10 mums reported that their husbands shared the caregiving load equally.
Explaining the discrepancy, Mr Zhang says the survey of mums was conducted two weeks into the circuit breaker.
Families then faced many uncertainties and had to adapt to a stay-home lifestyle without much warning.
Mothers, then, may have borne "a heavier mental load due to what they need to think about and how often they do so", in terms of keeping the kids fed and occupied, compared with fathers.
The study of dads was done at the end of the two-month stay-home period, when things had stabilised and fathers got into the groove of spending more time with their children.