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Ever heard of a school that teaches fathers how to hug? Well weirder things have happened because they do exist, created to teach stoic Korean dads how to be more loving towards their families (as I read in this article).

I’ve heard it time and time again – a loving and involved father is so important for raising confident sons and strong daughters. Maybe in generations past, fathers were happy to take a step back and let mothers do the work of parenting. And this evidently still stands in some cultures – Korean fathers work some of the longest hours, and have grown up with Confucian values which praise them for not showing their emotions. The response? The rise of these “Father Schools” in some Korean-dominated areas of the USA, staffed mostly by graduates who are keen to pass on what they’ve learnt, and to help younger dads avoid the mistakes they themselves made.

Sure, it’s their wives that make them go (yes, the men also learn to be more loving towards their wives) and the four-day ‘retreats’ are prone to some drop-outs, but the men that stay the length learn life-changing skills (including how to hug – literally). And although it might not be the top place they’d like to be, they start to recognise that they would have liked their own fathers to have known how to express their love a bit better.

I think this is so great! Too often the focus is schooling men on bringing in the money, and lots of it – while at the end of the day, no amount of riches can buy the character and self-esteem that kids develop through the love of their parents. Good on these Korean mums for realising what’s most important!

I hope this trend makes fathers think about how important their role is in the lives of their children. It’s irreplaceable, in fact.

Tamara El-Rahi is an associate editor of MercatorNet. A Journalism graduate from the University of Technology Sydney, she lives in Australia with her husband and two daughters.