More can be done to help parents build strong families

A mother and her son walking to school together.
A mother and her son walking to school together.PHOTO: ST FILE

It is heartening to read about the improvements the Government is making in the area of pre-school education (Families to get more help with pre-school cost, Aug 19).

Increasing subsidies, enhancing accessibility and developing pre-school professionals go a long way towards easing some of the parents' concerns.

While these "hardware" upgrades are welcomed, it is important to remember that having children and enabling them to succeed are more than just an issue of economic ability or physical convenience.

For children to thrive, we must continue to create an environment that champions families and supports parents in every sphere and at every stage of life.

There are four critical areas where more can be done.

First, parent education must be stepped up to equip them with the skills and attitudes to nurture resilient children in a complex, digital world.

Parenting does not come naturally - it is a skill set that is learnt and developed over time.

Second, encourage businesses and organisations to cultivate a family-friendly culture at the workplace, especially since the majority of Singaporeans come from dual-income households.

Beyond existing laws, more companies can design and promote policies such as flexi-work schemes to help employees flourish both at the home and work fronts.

Third, the parent-teacher partnership can be further strengthened. Building communication and trust between teachers and parents will help these two key stakeholders better develop and share strategies to help children grow up holistically.

Finally, we should find ways to help connect parents to healthy parent communities - safe spaces where they can be vulnerable about their challenges and insecurities.

As parents of two young children, my wife and I have benefited from these parents' circles, learning from other parents and knowing that we are not alone.

Strong families are the bedrock of a strong society. Providing parents with the support they need in the early stages of their parenting journey will complement the Government's efforts to build strong families, and see the success of future generations in Singapore.

Elvin Foong

Family Life Education Trainer with Focus on the Family Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2019, with the headline 'More can be done to help parents build strong families'. Print Edition | Subscribe