20 October 2016
Allen Ha believes Hong Kong fathers should play a greater role in parenting. Photo: HKEJ
Allen Ha believes Hong Kong fathers should play a greater role in parenting. Photo: HKEJ

How Hong Kong fathers can be heroes to their kids

Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and finally, busy Hong Kong fathers can have some quality time with their wives and children.

Nonetheless, healthy family relationship cannot be built in one day.

Hong Kong fathers should play a greater role in parenting.

Allen Ha, chief executive of AsiaWorld-Expo Management Ltd., initiated and co-founded DADs Network early this year.

The organization aims to motivate fathers to take part more actively in their children’s daily life.

Ha himself went through some bitter experiences with his father.

Growing up in a traditional Muslim family, he met his father only once a week.

Later Ha developed fears about establishing relationships with others and toward marriage.

Similarly, traditional Chinese fathers are strict and do not unveil their true feelings readily.

Ha believes that this might build up a wall between a father and his children if it continues.

“I now have a much improved relationship with my father,” Ha said.

“I understand his attitude better, as now I have become one.”

Ha said his father was so busy at work that they hardly met each other.

That was a common phenomenon in the earlier generations, but it should not be carried down to this generation as well, Ha said.

“Fathers nowadays should take an active role in getting along with their children,” he said.

“No one is a perfect father instantly.”

“But when you realize your importance, you will motivate yourself to become a great father.” 

Most Hong Kong fathers are the breadwinners of their families and leave parenting to their wives.

Ha suggests that wives should help their husbands enter the world of their children.

“I often remind my wife to give or even create some chances for me to improvise a bit in the children’s affairs,” he said.

At the school level, there is something to be done as well.

DADs Network plans to launch a “Date with DADs” partnership in local kindergartens and primary schools to encourage fathers to engage with their children at school.

Ha thinks companies should be more understanding about the duties of fathers.

For instance, if a father wants to take half a day off to attend his children’s school activities, the employer should grant it to him.

Ha sympathizes with how difficult it is to be a Hong Kong father.

“I have met a lot of Hong Kong fathers who are willing to participate in their children’s activities,” he said.

“Yet, they have sometimes given up, as they are too exhausted after work, or things have been settled by their wives already.” 

The Family Council has recently published a survey, in which 3,300 students from 28 schools have been tracked since 2009.

Only 55 percent of the Form 1 respondents said their fathers know their school life well.

But over 80 percent of the respondents said their mothers do a better job in that regard.

In fact, Hong Kong mothers score better than the fathers in various aspects, the survey shows.

Ha refers to foreign studies that show that if father actively take part in their children’s affairs, the children excel cognitively and show higher emotional competencies and better personal conduct.

So, Ha hopes to create a culture of the proactive father in the city.

He hopes it will provide positive energy to the fathers and to society as a whole.

A father of two sons, Ha has travelled separately with each of them when they were 13.

“We go travelling together, and I let him do all the planning alone,” he said.

“Without the company of his mother or brother for four to five days, the period purely belongs to us.”

Fathers are generally more adventurous and more playful than mothers, and that is their irreplaceable strength, he said.

Ha thinks interacting with children is an art.

“We used to give commands to our children, but now they are in their teens, how we should adjust ourselves?” he said.

“My idea is that we shouldn’t cover everything for them, as this would discourage children from taking their own initiative, which would spoil them.”

“We should be caring but not so much as to spoil our children.”

“Nowadays children take everything for granted, as some parents have simply done too much for them.”

A father should be a coach to his children and ask them questions rather than simply give them answers, he said.

Ha hopes all Hong Kong fathers can become heroes to their children.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 19.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version中文版]

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HKEJ writer

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