Domestic helpers must not replace our roles as caregivers

There has been some considerable chatter on the mooted idea of having live-out foreign domestic helpers (FDHs).

Mr Philip Sim Ah Tee, in his letter yesterday ("Practical reasons to have live-in maids"), is of the opinion that the foreign maids are needed in order for the modern Singaporean family to be fully functional.

In fact, one just has to visit a mall on a weekend to appreciate how critical a foreign maid is to the regular Singaporean family.

To weigh in on the debate, I offer this opinion - these women are our helpers. They are not maids, nor are they indentured servants.

They have left their homes to earn an income that will allow their loved ones to lead a better life.

None of us would like to live at our place of employment, and we are not members of the aristocracy who require 24/7 service at home.

We seem to be delegating the care of our children and parents to domestic helpers. Aren't we forgetting our role as parents and our role as children to our parents?

When our children cry in the middle of the night, should we, the parents, not be the ones who go to comfort them? How can we reasonably expect an employee (and that's exactly what an FDH is) to care for our offspring?

And if we delegate the care of our parents to the same employee, just because it is convenient, what kind of example are we setting for our children, in terms of the care for our loved ones? Is it any wonder that people feel increasingly disconnected from their teenage children?

Jason Charles Ingham

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2016, with the headline 'Domestic helpers must not replace our roles as caregivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe