The Straits Times
Published on Jan 09, 2013

Work-life balance vital for promoting parenthood


I AM a working mother with a seven-month-old boy. I applaud recent government efforts to improve the affordability, accessibility and quality of childcare services. These endeavours have given me some assurance that I can continue working, and that my child would be in safe hands when I place him in a childcare programme.

Although having the option of outsourcing childcare is important to me, helping parents to fulfil their role while earning a living is just as important.

I appreciated the 16 weeks of maternity leave I had to care for and bond with my newborn child. I was also pleased with the additional childcare leave to spend time with my child.

However, more can be done on a day-to-day basis for Singaporean parents, and that is to improve work-life balance.

Singaporeans are notorious for working beyond their official working hours. Some parents may take their children to day care early in the morning and pick them up late in the evening. Some may opt to spend more time with their children in the evening when they get home, but that often results in bed times being pushed back.

Children who do not get enough sleep may be at risk of attention and learning issues. Long working hours also make for sleep-deprived parents, who may feel stressed and tired at the end of the day or on weekends. This makes it difficult for parents to be sensitive to their children's needs and wants, and to maintain positive interactions with them.

Parents need to maintain the drive to build positive relationships with their children and be responsive to them.

Quality parent-child interactions are essential for the children's socio-emotional development and have long-lasting effects on their future relationships.

Children who have good relationships with permanent caregivers are more likely to develop into well-adjusted adults who have achieved social competencies and the ability to relate to others, so that they can work well as a team and be contributing members of society.

In other words, happy parents make happy children, who will grow up into happy adults, which make for a well-functioning and productive society.

I hope Singapore's policies are working towards establishing good family life rather than just increasing population numbers.

Koh Hwan Cui (Ms)