Strong bonds in HDB families

FAMILY bonds among Housing Board flat residents have remained strong, with married children visiting their parents frequently while continuing to provide them with financial support.

Almost one in five, or 19.5 per cent, of younger married residents and their parents visited each other daily in 2013, according to the latest HDB Sample Household Survey. This is up from 12.6 per cent in 2003 and 18.2 per cent in 2008.

More than nine in 10 of them also visited each other at least once a month or more frequently.

During their visits, the families mostly shared meals, exchanged suggestions and advice about personal problems, and went on outings together.

For market researcher Alan Shum, 26, and his wife, who live in a five-room Pasir Ris flat, they just want to spend time with their parents regularly. The couple visit both their parents in Simei and Toa Payoh at least once a fortnight to eat together.

"It's more of giving them a listening ear. If I don't do it, they would feel alone," said Mr Shum.

The Government's efforts to encourage families to live close to each other have seen some success.

Some 36.7 per cent of young couples lived near or with their parents in 2013, up from 35.5 per cent in 2008.

But many still preferred to stay away from their parents. The proportion of young couples and their parents preferring to live with or close to each other dropped to half from 52.8 per cent in 2008 and 73.3 per cent in 2003.

Filial piety remained strong in many households here too. Nearly 75 per cent of younger married couples said they financially supported their parents, up from 70.2 per cent in 2008.

At the same time, they also gave more to their parents, with average contributions rising from $336 to $400 a month.

Frequent visits and greater financial support are signs that inter-generational relations are still healthy despite many families living apart, said sociologist Paulin Straughan.

"It's a demonstration of filial piety even when they do not live together," she noted.

The survey also looked at other social aspects of HDB life such as community bonding.

Neighbours in HDB estates would greet each other but very few of them would engage in closer interactions.

Nearly everyone would greet each other if they met in a corridor, but just 8.7 per cent of neighbours would entrust their children to each other, while 17.8 per cent would lend or borrow items from each other.

Inter-racial relations also saw a marked improvement, with 85.7 per cent of HDB residents saying they interacted with neighbours of other ethnic groups or nationalities, up from 77 per cent in 2008.