The role of a father is neither simple nor straightforward, particularly as one’s children grow up and the relationship between father and child changes in dynamics.
“As a child, I grew up being pretty focused on taking care of my own areas of responsibility,” says Chua Ying Hwee, 46. “However, my children are growing up in an era where there are a lot more distractions. This constitutes a continuous balancing act for me — between communicating reasonable expectations to my children and providing guidance and encouragement for them to experience success. I am still learning how to do this well.” Ying Hwee, an education consultant, has two children: a boy, 12, and a girl, 10.
Realising that his children were growing up fast, he decided to say yes to an invitation to attend the ICAN Workshop. “I thought I could improve my relationship with my children,” he explains.
Consultant Lee Wee Song, 50, signed up for the ICAN Workshop as part of a Dads For Life event offered by his son’s school. “I was looking out for meaningful activities to do with my sons, but the workshop provided much more than that,” says the father of three sons aged 8, 11 and 14. “It created important self-awareness for me as a father.”
Building Fathering Skills
ICAN — an acronym of the key concepts “Involvement”, “Consistency”, “Awareness” and “Nurturance” — is an interactive workshop that teaches fathers the importance of their involvement and equips them with vital skills to build lasting relationships with their children. The ICAN Workshop assesses participants’ fathering skills and profiles. Participants watch video clips, interact with fellow fathers, take part in exercises and learn action tips to begin bonding with their children.
“The speakers are experienced fathers capable of explaining and citing examples as well as answering our queries very sensibly,” says Ying Hwee of his experience at the workshop. The key concepts are introduced, followed by discussions among the participants about their own evaluations and experiences. Learning is made more enjoyable by the friendships forged among the fathers.
Through ICAN, he discovered areas that he could improve on as a father. “I became aware of three skills that I should develop further: one, safeguarding quality time spent with my kids; two, being more expressive and affectionate; and three, encouraging them more.”
Wee Song found the workshop a significant learning experience in his personal journey as a father. “I have been working hard over the years to constantly seek greater understanding of myself as a father, a husband and also a son to my own father,” he explains. “The ICAN Workshop has helped me become more aware of my children’s needs and how I can better help them succeed in whatever they do.”
The Effects Of ICAN
“I was given insight into how involved and committed I was in my children’s lives,” reveals Wee Song. “I was made to reflect upon how my parenting style can make or break them, and that I have just as much, if not, more responsibility than my wife in the nurturing of my children’s moral and social compass. In their earlier years, children model themselves after their parents a lot, before they grow up and are exposed to more external influences. Thus, as a father, the moral stand I take and how I react to different social circumstances sets the bar for my children.”
Ying Hwee found the ICAN Workshop a good reinforcer of what he believes in: “to be present, be aware, be consistent and be nurturing. It is a great booster shot for me to want to play my role as a father better.”
Both fathers have applied the skills they learned at ICAN to positive effect.
“Now I make it a point to bring each of my boys on a one-on-one outing, like fishing, camping or even overseas mission trips,” says Wee Song. “These are times when I can better dedicate myself totally to connecting with them individually.”
“I asked my children what is one word they would use to describe me. I am glad there were positive adjectives,” Ying Hwee laughs. “And I am more conscious of the need to allow them to interrupt me. And they like to interrupt me more now!”
ICAN Workshop is offered in a four- or six-hour session and the fee is from $80 per person. For more information, call 6769-1238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org