Centre for Fathering (CFF-DFL) conducted a Rite of Passage programme for Queenstown Secondary School’s students and their dads on 27 January 2018.
A pilot programme, Rite of Passage consists of engaging interactive activities culminating in a ceremony for the fathers to ‘release’ their teens to become young adults –with the assurance that they will continue to help and guide the teens whenever it is needed. Doing so, anchors the teens to grow, mature, and gradually take on more responsibility for themselves.
The Programme’s Relevance
“I am excited about Rite of Passage –it is a good programme for secondary schools, as it really marks a different chapter in a child’s life, allowing a father to mentally prepare for his child’s development and the changes that will take place,” said Mr Yuen Chee Onn, Head Engagement and Outreach, CFF-DFL.
“We organised this programme at Queenstown Secondary School, as we hope to work closely with the parents and encourage them to play an active role in their children’s growing up years,” said Mr Khoo Gay Min, Teacher-in-charge of Partnership/Parent Support Group, Queenstown Secondary School.
Trainer, Mr Danny Teo, set the stage with for the 2-hour session with communication exercises to help the fathers and teens understand each other on a deeper level. They gleaned useful tips, such as:
- Involve and Include Yourself –Your teen may not spend as much time with you as before. But, you can come up with creative ways to stay involved in his life. For example, do things together that he cannot do alone, bring him out for an activity that he will not be able to afford on his allowance, or listen to the type of music he likes.
- Invest Time and Emotion –Set aside one-on-one time with your teen so that you can have uninterrupted time together. Communicate that he is important to you by giving your undivided attention. There is a higher chance that your teen will take to you if he does not have to compete with any sibling for ‘airtime’.
- It’s All in the Details –As a family, open up communication channels by being genuinely interested in what is happening in each other’s daily routine. Learn about the details in your teen’s life so that you can use it to initiate conversation. Make it a habit to talk regularly and listen attentively.
Rite of Passage Ceremony
After completing the communication exercises in a group, the father-teen pairs found a quiet spot to spend time together privately. Each dad read a letter to his child and presented a gift, explaining what it symbolised.
Mr Roland Tay gave his daughter a bracelet featuring the design of an apple. “It represents that I am the apple of his eye,” said Ariana.
Returning to the group, the dads took turns to read out a declaration to the teens, each calling his son/daughter into manhood/ladyhood, releasing him/her to a new phase of life, and urging him/her to explore the world. And, they gave their children a hug.
The ceremony was humble yet powerful, simple yet impactful.
It planted the teen firmly in the love and protection of his father. At the same time, it provided a platform for him/her to grow up.
Words from the declaration will resonate in the teen’s heart for years: “… Always remember, Daddy will be here to support, guide and help you whenever you need me. I love you.”