Daddy’s Turn To Look After The Kids at The School

Kudos to a new breed of fathers who are just as adept at changing nappies as handling corporate stuff in the office. The trouble is when the family goes to a shopping mall fathers are hardly welcome in the mothers’ breastfeeding room.  So, how about a Fathers’ Room? Well, this is happening in The School by Jaya One. The brand new facility is located on the ground floor of children’s enrichment mall, the first of its kind in Malaysia.

Here, fathers can change their babies’ diapers, prepare milk or attend to their toddlers in air-conditioned comfort among fellow fathers.  Breastfeeding moms have their special room on the second floor of The School.

Talking about changing nappies, I am reminded of an old-fashioned father who feels that childcare is strictly a women’s domain.

“I’d rather cangkul a field for the whole day than look after my baby for one hour,” confesses Beng Kit. His wife smiles and confirms that he has never once changed their babies’ diapers.

I wonder if Beng Kit would embrace his paternal duty if he knew of Dr David Popenoe’s research findings on fatherhood. According to the sociologist, children of involved fathers have advanced linguistic and cognitive abilities when they start school.

The researcher also found that a father’s best gift to his children is to love their mother.  Husbands who treat their wives with respect are more likely to raise chivalrous sons. Their daughters are less likely to get entangled in violent or unhealthy relationships.

Daddy’s influence extends to adolescence and adulthood. Rough-housing with Dad teaches children to deal with aggressive physical impulses without losing control of their emotions.

Fathers who cuddle and play with their babies are rewarded with emotionally secure children.  As they grow older, they become more sociable and popular with their peers.

My family experience squares with this finding.  After seven years as a homemaker, I took a fulltime job that required me to work longer hours than my husband.

It was a steep learning curve for him to feed our five-month-old Pris and change her nappies while our maid attended to the two older ones. When Pris was admitted to hospital for bronchitis, Hubby took leave to stay with her.

“Just mention Pris’ name and her Dad will be smiling from ear-to-ear,” comments my father-in-law.  Our friends also made similar observations.

I am certain that this bond resulted from the small acts of feeding Pris and changing her diapers because Hubby never did that for the older two.

True to Dr Popenoe’s findings, Pris is our brightest child where exam results are concerned.  Socially, she is popular and hospitable.  Our home acts as a multi-purpose hall for her friend’s birthday parties,college discussion groups and all sorts of reunions.

This ‘Daddies’  Movement’ is encouraging.  Some dads are passionate enough to realign their jobs in order not to miss out on their children’s growing years.  

Nowadays, it is not unusual for fathers to consider work-life balance factors during job interviews.  I met one such father while waiting for my passport to be processed. He was working on his laptop while making handphone calls.

“Your mobile office, I suppose?” I casually asked.  Turned out that  Tony has a dream job.  He is employed by an American company and works from home.  Besides getting a monthly USD salary, he has opportunities to travel as a regional manager.

After sending his wife to work, he returns home to attend to household chores and work commitments.  Despite the fact that the couple employs a fulltime babysitter, Tony loves to have them at home while he works. The talented father has busted the myth that only women are good at multi-tasking.

Shamsul is another father who impressed me. He quit his job with a multinational company when his travelling schedules deprived him of time with his family.  He then set up a home business as a marketing consultant.

“It is wonderful to have my toddler on my lap while I work on the computer.  I take morning breaks so I can go to the playground to fly kites with my son,” enthuses the happy father.

Aha…but the father who takes the cake is Lionel, a facilitator at the Internet marketing workshop I recently attended. He announced to our class that he would be taking one-month paternity leave to attend to his firstborn’s arrival. 

He is so happy that his home-based Internet marketing business allows him this privilege. I have already booked him for an interview after his paternity leave.  Watch out for his article in The School website! 

Traditionally, homemakers are closer to their children as they spend  more time with them.  With more flexible and home-based work packages for fathers, children will benefit from their presence.

Logically, even if a mother puts 200 per cent into fulfilling her role, it is only 50 per cent of the parenting job. The other 50 per cent must come from the father.  

If this positive trend gathers momentum, don’t be surprised if Father’s Day will be as prominent as Mother’s Day in the near future.

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SY Phang has the best of both worlds – but at different times.  After leaving Shell, she set up her freelance business in corporate and marketing communication. The flexibility enabled her to enjoy her children’s growing years.  She is now catching up with her career, experimenting with business models that promote work-life balance. If you know of companies or individuals engaged in family-friendly work practices, please email her at flexxiassociates@gmail.com
The School at Jaya One