Forum: Home must be a place of open communication

There have been many useful thoughts and ideas on how schools can be safe spaces for students, as well as insightful conversations on the need to seek help when faced with stress and challenges.

However, when looking at safe spaces, we tend to overlook the most basic - the home.

Beyond the physical environment, a safe space is also about ensuring open communication, respecting differences and being there for one another without judgment.

It is equally important to create space for emotional and cognitive growth. Ensuring that a child grows up in a warm, loving and positive environment will have a significant impact on his teenage and adult lives, and pave the way for mental and emotional resilience.

The transition from a child to young adult is an exciting one in which a person achieves self-esteem and sense of identity. It is when he discovers his own "voice".

It is during this period that a safe space at home is one where there is honest and open communication between parent and child without either feeling he is being judged or fearing reprimand. Such communication allows both parent and child to confide in each other.

Parents need to be prepared to hear things which may be uncomfortable. Be mindful of how you react as it is common to react by giving solutions, sharing your own personal stories and feeling impatient to give your opinion. The best response is to listen.

Our counsellors at PPIS (Singapore Muslim Women's Association) have seen parents who get angry upon discovering that their child is seeing a school counsellor without informing them.

For some parents, it is as if they have failed. Failed to be there at the most vulnerable moment of their child's life. Failed to bring up resilient children. Worse still, some parents reacted violently towards their children to ease their own feelings of guilt.

Let's all create safe spaces at home for all members of the family especially the young ones, to start and end their day positively. A space that inspires, gives hope and allows for respectful communication. A space that enables everyone to grow as individuals and as a family.

Tuminah Sapawi

Chief Executive Officer

PPIS (Singapore Muslim Women's Association)