• Perspectives
  • 17 June 2020

Strengthened bonds between fathers and daughters

With countries just beginning to emerge from lockdowns, it is too early to tell how long the path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be.

The times are challenging and fraught with uncertainties, but one positive effect has unwittingly unveiled itself.

At least one study has shown that the bonds between fathers and daughters have become stronger through prolonged stay-home periods, dispelling suggestions that daughters are traditionally closer to their mothers as they are more open to sharing personal matters.

Our colleagues share how Father’s Day this year will be more meaningful even as celebrations are likely to be muted with movement restrictions still in place.

We spoke to Adrian Teo, who is a Singapore-based Market Head for ASEAN and Vijay Bhatia, who is a Market Head for our South Asia and Middle East team in Dubai. Both attest that they have forged closer relationships with their daughters over the past few months. 

Unprecedented understanding

Father’s Day has never been high up on the list of celebratory events in Adrian’s household, but this year will be like no other.

Where in the past, the day would just pass by with little fanfare, he now has a new reason to rejoice.

He has developed a newfound understanding of almost everything that happens in the personal lives of his two teenage daughters aged 14 and 15. He is surprised that he is even able to hum along to their favourite K-pop tunes.

Adrian says: “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I would normally find out more about what’s happening in their lives during weekend car rides. They would choose to share a few things or just brush it off altogether.

“Now they tell me straightaway if they need help or if something is frustrating them at school. They also have a better understanding of what I do for work.”

With both daughters doing home-based learning modules, Adrian can see for himself exactly how their classes are conducted, what frustrates them and how he can immediately address their issues. He also has more time to chat with them over meals and they constantly clue him in on their No.1 K-pop obsession, BTS.

“I’m very blessed. My daughters have shown that they are very independent and mature for their age,” he said.

Truth be told, Adrian’s daughters have no elaborate plans to celebrate Father’s Day but he is not one bit bothered by it.

He said: “We aren’t big fans of such celebrations, but this year I am able to celebrate that I am closer to my daughters than ever before.” 

“Partners-in-crime

She is headstrong, direct and loves her ‘alone’ time.

These are all traits which resonate well with Vijay as they bear a remarkable similarity to his own personality’s.

“I see a lot of myself in her character. That also means that she doesn’t show her emotions so easily,” he said of his 13-year-old daughter whom he spends time with, along with his nine-year-old son, every evening once he gets home from the office.

“By the time I’m home from work, I would be mentally exhausted. I play with the kids but it’s more to unwind and not so much with the heart,” he says.

All these have changed recently.

Working from home, Vijay has been able to spend more time with his children, particularly discovering aspects of his daughter which he never knew before.

For instance, he has found out that just like him, she too has a deep interest in movies. Father and daughter now organise nightly movie sessions, selecting from a long list of blockbusters which go to the 1980s.

Vijay said: “I’m a huge movie buff and tried for so long to get my wife into it but she never did. Now I learn that my daughter has the same passion as me. I’ve finally found my partner-in-crime.”

He has also had several meaningful conversations with his daughter, advising her on her outlook on life.

“She has said outright: ‘I have a father who understands me’. I like the fact that that’s direct information from her. Our communication channels have really opened up.,” he says.

Father’s Day is a quiet affair in the household with his son usually making him a greeting card and his daughter giving him a big hug.

He said: “Getting that from her means a lot more to me now.”

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Version: December 2019