The Plight of Single Fathers in Malaysia
Lee Wee Min, Focus on The Family Malaysia
The recent child abuse case involving a single father chaining his two children at home has highlighted the issue of single fathers in Malaysia.
Lee Wee Min, executive director at Focus on The Family Malaysia says that single fathers face a number of challenges, such as the lack of support from a spouse, the inability to provide a mother's role model to his children as well as problems facing dual-parents, including work stress and life's challenges.
"It's instinctive, in most cases, for mothers to be parents... fathers have to be more intentional [in parenting]. And the law seems to gravitate to giving mothers the rights to take care of the children. However, some fathers do play excellent roles as the single parent, and in those cases, the courts award these cases to the fathers," he tells BFM in a recent interview.
Commenting on the case in Penang, Lee says the different stress factors do not justify a crime, but the public needs to try to understand the cause of certain behaviours and the crime, rather than simply casting judgment on the father.
"Among the challenges single fathers face, aside from providing for the needs of the children, is coping with the child itself. Nobody is trained to be a parent, especially when you are not brought up by the best role models."
He says that relationship issues also contribute to the stress of a single parent. "There's the oxygen mask principle - when our needs are not met, it's hard to meet the needs of those we love," he says.
In the following interview, Lee also discusses affordable childcare, support available for single fathers as well as best practices of single father support overseas.