Monday, June 18, 2018

2018 Dads for Life Workshop

~ Article contributed by Lim Kim Meng

I needed no persuasion to sign up for the “Dads for Life (DFL) workshop which was held on 3 March 2018 in TKSS. The celebrated founder of this program was slated to facilitate the 3-hour session and I reckoned it was a golden opportunity to take in valuable insights from the parenting extraordinaire himself.

The TKSS library was exceedingly welcoming 
as a score of fathers strolled in and were warmly received by the PSG organising committee.  After the perfunctory handshakes were exchanged, expectant sights were cast on the speaker sitting quietly upfront. The speaker was none other than Mr Jason Wong, founder of the wildly successful Dads for Life (DFL) Program ( and the remarkable Yellow Ribbon Movement (

Jason recounted how his proposal to dial up the father’s role in the parenting matrix was regarded with an incredulous eye. His peers found the concept bewildering, almost a moot point. The archetypal fathers weren’t prepared to call their authority and effectiveness into question.  Unperturbed, Jason soldiered on, ably assisted by a team of committed fathers who provided the impetus for the launch of the DFL program in 2009.

He felt deeply compelled to drive the DFL program to fruition because he saw an imperative need to bridge a parenting gap. During his 17-year stint in the prison services, he was appalled by the numerous cases of prisoners who had the misfortune of either modelling after their errant fathers or were missing one in the critical formative years.  Jason was convinced that fathers play a critical role in bridging this parenting chasm. Thanks to the founders of the DFL program, I found myself perched comfortably in the TKSS library a decade later, attempting to crack the parenting equivalent of the Da Vinci code.

The workshop was designed to be highly interactive, with Jason sharing personal anecdotes of his parenting journey and encouraging participants to do likewise.  We laughed heartily at his hilarious parenting slip-ups while mulling over the realisation that the “Perfect Father” was a perennial “Work-in-Progress” project. Even this parenting advocate admitted to falling prey to the lure of television programs and incessant professional deadlines.  We learnt that effective parenting does not emerge with the birth of a child, nor does it grow in tandem with our children. On the contrary, most of us are unprepared and many remain so. Fortunately, a long-awaited slide finally made its appearance.

It was euphemistically titled “Fathering Tips”. I could almost hear a universal heave of relief in the library. We love blueprints, detailed manuals and “HOW TO” guides and it created much excitement among the participants who enthusiastically tested the feasibility and research behind each of the 10 fathering tips.

Jason took the opportunity to reel back faded memories of our childhood experiences with our fathers and thankfully, many volunteers shared decades old recollections which clearly expounded the importance of projecting positive values for our children to model after. The various small group discussions and presentation of collective findings were very effective ways to sharpen the definition of the most pressing parenting issues. More importantly, it helped galvanised our collective resolve to act on at least some of the parenting principles immediately.

3 hours were quickly expended in lively discourse and candid debates. While I cannot profess to have significantly elevated my parenting skills after one workshop, I’m convinced fathers CAN and SHOULD make a difference in the parenting journey. After all, “Dads for Life” risks becoming another pompous byword unless fathers make a real commitment to act, even in very small steps. 
More DFL activities were promised by the PSG organising committee, judging from what I saw, we might need an even bigger space for the next session. Great Work CK and Eric!