Jan 8, 2013

The Better Fathering Index. Say what???

(Daddy blogs)

I had originally scheduled a post for today's blog entry. But after reading about an interesting bit of news from CNA has got me a tad ruffled. So I'm shelving that in favour of this new development.

Apparently, Singapore will soon have a "Better Fathering Index" aimed at benchmarking the father's involvement in bringing up children. The Index - get this - believed to be a world's first, is expected to be ready by the end of the year after a comprehensive survey of dads in Singapore.

Everything also want to be first. Everything also KPI.

Why do you even want to benchmark something that is unquantifiable in the first place? And how does one do it?

By time spent? By the number of activities that a Dad does with his children? Or by the number of times a Dad sends his kids to school or feeds them?

The thing is - Fatherhood, or Parenthood for that matter, isn't a checklist where one is deemed to have aced or failed as a parent should there be a lesser than ideal number of ticks. A stay-at-home Dad would naturally score better than a Dad who is the sole breadwinner and needs to slog his arse off to give his family a comfortable life. So the latter's efforts would count for nothing in the Better Fathering Index?

Also, shouldn't parenting be a TEAM effort? Why do we see the need to have an Index for Dads solely?

As reported in the CNA article, Businessman and National Family Council's honorary secretary Martin Tan is a father of two young girls and he chooses to play a more active role in bringing up his children - everything from accompanying his daughter on her first day at school to attending her ballet performances.

So... if a Dad does this, it is special and he deserves to be higher up in the Fathering Index. But if a Mum does this, it will be deemed as part of her job and nothing extraordinary?

As a Dad, the last thing I want is for someone to peg me to an index and tell me how well I am, or I should be scoring. That is downright insulting, and takes the joy (and tears) out of Parenthood. Already there are calls to place lesser emphasis on academic grades in school but now, along comes another initiative to try to place a grade on Fatherhood. What kind of message are we imparting to our kids?

To be fair, I have to say that the initiative has good intentions - to foster a greater involvement among Dads in Singapore in bringing up their children. But I do take issue with the name and the need to a set of criteria to produce this better fathering index.

I will tell you what I want, what I really really want - I want better support from the system that is already in place. More childcare options that are readily accessible to new parents, more affordable family rates for our places of interests like the Zoo, USS, Gardens by the Bay's Domes, etc, even a slightly later book-in time for my reservist so that I can drop my kids off school first.

That said, the Index "is expected to be ready by the end of the year after a comprehensive survey of dads in Singapore." I do hope the survey will be comprehensive enough, because I will be waiting. And so will this Dad who penned his thoughts about this issue too, I think.

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Jean said...

Good post, Kelvin! I agree with everything you said! Parenting in Singapore is stressful enough without tacking on added benchmarks which serve no purpose other than to demoralise.

The Blogfather said...

Keeping in mind that the National Family Council and Centre for Fathering aren't government organisations, the great minds that cooked up this idea might be more compelled to backtrack on their stance if enough parents (not just dads) start cow-parenting on the Net. Kudos for penning this piece, Kelvin.

Cheekiemonkies said...

Thanks Jean! Yes, as if we parents are not stressed with our own KPI at work enough!

Cheekiemonkies said...

Thanks Winston! Yup, that just might work. Heh. Have linked to your article as well. :)

Eddie Yii said...


I especially like the last part of your post, about better support from the system that is currently in place. That is much more realistic and helpful to fathers compared to another number placed on our heads.

I also wrote my piece, just could not help it!

The Better Fathering Index - What's the point?

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Eddie,

Thanks! And great piece too! Hopefully the 'noise' that we have generated online will count for something.

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