The role and expectations of being a father has grown over the years, and we have come a way from the stereotype of fathers simply being the silent disciplinarian or sole breadwinner of the family.
Sharing on his own journey of fatherhood, Dr Vimallan Manokara, Head of MINDS Institute, recounts the sleepless nights, not being able to participate in social activities and unfortunately, rounder waistlines. Despite these challenges and sacrifices, he counts the experiences he’s gained priceless. “I would not trade for any other. I have learnt that quality over quantity is important – I try to make the most of each minute I have with my son when I am home.”
Dr Vimallan stresses the importance of the role of fathers in the lives of children with and without intellectual disabilities. “Research has found that (the) fathers’ role is crucial in children developing secure attachment and develop positive self-esteem growing up.” He continues, “For children with ID with complex needs, it is even more important for fathers to share the caregiving load with mothers so that it leads to a positive quality of life of the child.”
Chloe Alcantara is a student at Fernvale Gardens School. Her father, Mr Salvador Alcantara, or more fondly known as Mr Buddie, sets aside time in his daily routine to connect with Chloe and her sibling. When asked what her favourite activity with her dad was, Chloe responded that she enjoys the cycling and walking sessions they have in the morning. Mr Buddie fondly recounts the times Chloe cycled ahead too quickly, leaving him running after her. Outside of being a time of exercise and lessons on road safety for Chloe, Mr Buddie values these moments seeing Chloe enjoying herself outdoors. As the family winds down for the day, Mr Buddie has nightly chit-chat sessions with Chloe, encouraging her to share about her day. He then spends the moments before Chloe falls asleep reminding her of what he appreciates her for.
Fatherhood is a journey with many highs and lows. Mr Buddie shares that as a father to a child with special needs, it is important to celebrate the small victories – folding laundry, getting accustomed to the roar of the vacuum cleaner, and independently walking home from the school bus drop-off point.
As we celebrate Father’s Day this year in the current COVID-19 landscape, we encourage fathers to set aside time for your kids as we work from home. Mr Buddie wisely counsels, quality time is very precious. Whether it is helping your child understand what working from home is, or adding surprise elements to mundane routines, these precious spaces are opportunities to be fully present with your children; listening and learning to be interested in what interests them.
We wish all fathers and fathers-to-be a happy Father’s Day! We celebrate the love, time and sacrifice you invest in bringing up your children.