There have been many letters asking for more to be done to help families deal with stress (More needs to be done to help families struggling with stress, Jan 25; Set up a hotline for those facing parenting problems, Jan 25; and Hotline needed to give parents immediate help and guidance, Jan 27).
The Ministry of Social and Family Development has also shared how it is working with community partners to support families (Help available for families under stress, Jan 29).
SGFamilies is a group of parent volunteers who have been supporting fellow parents in their children's school communities for many years. The core team has about 25 parents, and we mobilise other fathers, mothers and young people as needed. We complement the many support resources that are already available.
Through this ground-up movement for parents by parents, we connect with people who want to hear from fellow parents as well as their children about their experiences through the growing years, and how they cope with stressful moments.
We run inter-generational conversations on the children's transitional periods such as growing into teenagers, post-secondary education and national service.
There are avenues for parents to reach out to others in the group for advice on school matters. But SGFamilies also offers other opportunities for outreach and support beyond the school community.
One initiative is the SafeSpace@SGFamilies, in which we meet once a month to support parents who are helping their children through issues such as anxiety, depression, isolation and having suicidal thoughts. Parents continue to connect after the sessions on WhatsApp, and many have found it beneficial to be in a community of parents who are going through similar situations.
SGFamilies also organises gatherings with parent support group leaders from schools to share good practices and discuss how to better support children and parents.
Fellow parents can be an effective channel of emotional support as well as a source of healthy coping strategies. We can look out for one another and our children when all of us do our part together.
Carol Loi Pui Wan
Co-founder of SGFamilies