Stable jobs and regular schooling help families build resilience: Panel

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling (third from left) in a panel discussion on building resilient families at the Touch Family Conference yesterday, with (from left) panellist Susan Ng, moderator Anita Low-Lim and panellis
Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling (third from left) in a panel discussion on building resilient families at the Touch Family Conference yesterday, with (from left) panellist Susan Ng, moderator Anita Low-Lim and panellist C.P. Eruandee Prayitna. PHOTO: TOUCH COMMUNITY SERVICES

It is important for the Government and community to work together to provide vulnerable families with access to opportunities in employment and school, Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sun Xueling said yesterday at the Touch Family Conference.

In a panel discussion on building resilient families, she said that a stable employment situation for the adults and regular schooling for the children can provide stability.

"This may appear to be common sense, but for certain vulnerable families, it may not be so easy to settle into those routines (of going to work and school)," said Ms Sun, who is also Minister of State for Education.

She was one of three panellists in the discussion at the Touch Family Conference, a two-day event that started on Wednesday.

The other panellists were Ms Susan Ng, who is a presenter with CNA938, and Mr C.P. Eruandee Prayitna, the head of engagement and outreach at the Centre for Fathering.

The moderator was Mrs Anita Low-Lim, senior director of Touch Integrated Family Group.

The panel discussed the meaning of family resilience, the role parents play in building it and how parents can anchor the family, as well as the importance of a whole-family approach in keeping the family united during difficult times.

Mrs Low-Lim said that communication and problem-solving skills are critical in helping families manage challenging situations.

"In the course of our work in the social service sector, we see families breaking down because they are not talking to one another and not communicating their feelings honestly and openly, and this has caused a shutdown in the relationships," she said.

"We know once there is no relationship, there is no capacity to support one another."

Ms Sun said that the starting point for better communication is that one must make time to listen, build trust and be empathetic.

"Hear not just with your ears, but also with your heart," she said.

Mr Eruandee said he noticed that families who talk and communicate more tend to be more intact and are more open with sharing.

He also stressed the importance of routine for children, as it provides the consistency and stability that every child needs.

The importance of routine was highlighted amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the circuit breaker period last year, when people experienced dislocation and the regular way of life was prevented from continuing as normal, said Ms Sun.

"We have to recognise our responsibilities, and in our own individual families, we have to recognise our roles," she said.

"A strong, resilient family is one where the children know the parents are there for them."

The inaugural conference, themed At The Heart Of Every Family, was held at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre and saw more than 400 people taking part, including through online sessions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2021, with the headline 'Stable jobs and regular schooling help families build resilience: Panel'. Subscribe