Hong Kong fathers should play greater role in parenting, says Project PATH research



Fathers play a less active role in parenting and have a more distant relationship with their children, according to a new study that has prompted a call for them to become more involved in their children's development.

Project PATHS, a research programme funded by the Jockey Club Charities Trust, conducted the city's first study to examine local secondary school pupils' impressions of their parents. A total of 3,300 pupils from 28 schools took part in the six-year study, which started in 2009. The pupils were asked to answer questionnaires once a year.

It found children from Form One to Form Six gave lower scores to their fathers in the three main categories - behavioural control, psychological control and parent-child relations.

"Fathers usually have three 'lows'. They are involved less in teaching their children, appear to be nicer and are more distant from their children," said Professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei, who led the research.

In the data collected from Form One pupils, 52.9 per cent said that their fathers would not approach them to find out about their friends, compared with 26.5 per cent for mothers.

While up to 65.3 per cent of pupils would share their feelings with their mothers, only 48.5 per cent would do the same with their fathers.

"Fathers are relatively busier at work, and therefore the greater parenting role would go to mothers," Shek said.

Although mothers appeared to be more demanding of their children, their relations with their offspring tended to be closer as they spent more time with them, he added.

He said the father and mother were equally important in a family, and the absence of either would have a big impact on their children.

In a previous study conducted in Britain, a father's participation when a child was seven was linked to the academic qualifications the child had gone on to achieve at age 20.

To encourage fathers to take a stronger role in parenting, DADs Network, a non-profit organisation advocating a greater role for fathers, has launched a campaign called "Date with DADs" to encourage fathers to be more engaged with their school-age children.

"Schools can spare one or two days every year to hold activities with fathers, who might spend one to one-and-a-half hours each time with their children at school," said Allen Ha Wing-on, co-founder of the organisation.

Some examples of father-child activities could be eating or doing handicrafts together.

Five schools - three kindergartens and two primary schools - have agreed or started to organise activities to get fathers engaged this year.

While schools would be the initial targets of the campaign, Ha said he aimed ultimately to expand the project to workplaces.


Source: Hong Kong fathers should play greater role in parenting, says Project PATH research

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