We can all agree that the majority of today’s dads are different from those in the past – many have shed the stereotypical images of a stern, traditional and detached disciplinarian. They’ve also become more involved in parenting their little ones, which is a great thing, as research has shown that the power and impact of a father’s love and involvement on their children’s development is as important as those of the mother’s.
We had the privilege of speaking with Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Social and Family Development, and learnt how he seamlessly manages both his familial roles and parliamentary ones. Candid, and with the love for his family coating his responses to our questions, we’ve realised the enormity of the responsibility that comes with juggling the roles he play in Singapore’s politics, and in his own home.
Daddy’s Report Card: Cool Dad
“A good father is one who is able to lead by example. I think it is important that my wife and I make conscious effort to be positive role models so that we can help to shape our children’s values and character positively.”
Spoken like True Blue Cool Dad.
But Assoc. Prof. Faishal doesn’t seem to think so. “I certainly do not see myself as a cool dad! I believe in being firm about setting the boundaries, and yet, being open to my children’s thoughts and feelings, especially when my children are both well into their teen years. I think this is how we can avoid break-downs in communication. It is through bringing the issue out into the open and talking it out that we can share our perspectives and be able to understand each other even better. In that respect, I think I make a pretty okay dad, maybe a 7 out of 10!”
Playing the Paternal Role
Assoc. Prof. Faishal’s understanding of his role in the family is rooted in culture. Coming from a Malay/Muslim family background, he knows it is common for the man in the house to be regarded as the head of the family, and his family respects that. Like any modern dad with a smartphone and a busy schedule, Assoc. Prof. Faishal explained, “Although I am not around with the family at most times, we have developed a connection via social media and daily engagements for me to be part of the process of decision-making in the affairs of the family.”
But he is quick to attribute the successful running of the household to his wife, whom he says is really the one keeping things together and running well at home. “With a strong marriage, we know that we can work together as a team to bring the children up in a strong, stable family,” he shared.
A Good Dad is a Good Husband
Assoc. Prof. Faishal refuses to take all the credit – he is always quick to share that while he thinks he’s doing an okay job at being a father, the loving and firm partnership he has with his wife makes all the difference in how his children have turned out – “I think it is important that my wife and I make conscious effort to be positive role models so that we can help to shape our children’s values and character positively. Part of this role modelling includes how we treat our spouses. Showing love and mutual respect for each other on a daily basis helps keep the marriage strong, and in turn, makes for a strong, stable family.”
He also shared that on days when he gets home before midnight, he would go for a romantic 10-15 minute walk around the neighbourhood with his wife – “As we chat and enjoy the tranquillity of the night, the experience helps to relieve the hustle and bustle of my day as well as help me bond better with my wife. I also exercise with my wife. We go to the gym, swim, brisk walk and cycle together. These are the simple and yet, important things that we can do, to bond with our spouses!”
Juggling It All
“Many fathers, including myself, spend long hours at work, and find it challenging to balance our roles as a father, husband and politician in a satisfactory way. It is thus my resolution to try to be intentional with my time, so that I can allocate time for matters and people that I really care about. We need to make deliberate effort to prioritise our family so that we find time to bond with our wife and instil values in our children.”
As a parent with a demanding career, one of the best gifts life can bestow on you is a supporting family, and the Faishal family seems to be doing great thus far. Assoc. Prof Faishal added, “I am fortunate to have an understanding wife, children, parents and siblings. They know the requirements of my role as a politician and would sacrifice their time and attention with me for my constituents and Singapore. This has indeed helped me to do my job better.
“I have always stressed upon the importance of family ties and kinship to my children. It is my hope that as they grow up, they will continue to look upon the family as their pillar of support, in good and bad times, and to hold strong to the values that my wife and I have instilled in them.”
How does your own dad make time for family with his busy job? Share with us in the comments below!