Faces of Fatherhood: A Father’s Changing Role (Part II)
Last month, Jazon Ho, parent coach and counsellor at Fei Yue Community Services, discussed the stages of a father’s evolving role during infancy and toddlerhood. Here is Part II on how that role changes as our children go through primary school and their teenage years.
Primary school years – Father as a Coach.
From ages 6 to 11, children work through the psychosocial stage of industry versus inferiority. At this stage, most children enter primary school, begin to cope with new social environments and academic demands, and learn to be productive. If they do well during this stage and their efforts are positively evaluated, they will feel competent. However, when they fail, they may become discouraged and feel a sense of inferiority or incompetence.
As fathers, we can play the role of a coach in this stage of our children’s development. This includes fostering supportive learning environments at home to optimise learning outside of school. We can hone their important executive functioning skills by creating and managing routines for them and modelling how to do so, which helps them to plan ahead, meet goals and find little successes in their educational journey.
Besides academic mentoring, this is also the best time to teach them new skills as they develop their fine motor skills during this stage. Take your child out cycling in the park, learn racket and ball sports together even if you’re not an expert, or have him or her finger-paint, weave, paint, draw, or shape clay. Fathers who are willing to spend time guiding their children will naturally strengthen the bonds of their relationship, enabling them to feel comfort, security and trust. Uncovering their children’s hidden talents, if any, in the process is the icing on the cake.
Children who learn a new skill may feel their level of confidence growing, their self-esteem increasing, and their social circle expanding. If you teach your child how to play badminton, football or sepak tekraw, for example, he or she will be able to join in with friends who also know how to play the sport. This can help build peer relationships. Imagine, however, if he or she does not know how to play… But this should not lead us to create a mentoring relationship that is characterised by toxic stress. Know your child’s strengths and limits; be realistic, patient and encouraging when imparting new skills to them.
Teenage years – Father as a Counsellor.
The stage of adolescence witnesses one of the most important transitions in our children’s lifespan. During this stage, according to Erik Erikson, the developmental conflict that our children have to resolve is between identity and role confusion. As our teenage children begin to explore the big question “Who am I? What are the experiences, relationships, beliefs, values and memories that make up my sense of who I am?”, fathers can offer guidance to help them navigate the identity-forming process and develop a strong sense of self.
The key principle to parenting a teenager is maintaining a positive relationship. Authoritarian parenting is ineffective and counterproductive. At this age, they need personal space and autonomy. According to development theory, adolescents often experience varying states of anxiety as they try to pin down their personal identity, often grappling with confusion about what they are good at. Telling them directly what to do may not be as constructive as listening and being attentive to their needs.
A father can play the role of counsellor: listen to them attentively and provide pastoral guidance without judgement. For instance, if your teenage child shares his or her view with you, do not respond too quickly by telling them what to do. Instead, ask open-ended questions. Hold space for them. Listen attentively to them as they share how they derived their views or ideas. Patiently explore the situation with them as they resolve the issues they are facing. Be their guide by their side, not the sage on a stage.
If you wish to learn about Triple P strategies or speak to a parenting coach, please feel free to connect with us via https://go.fycs.org/PSS or [email protected]. Fei Yue parenting support is offered to parents free of charge.
Written By: Jazon Ho, Parent Coach and Counsellor, Fei Yue Community Services