At the first virtual Emerging Stronger Conversations – Building a Singapore that is Made For Families session on April 24th, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Indranee Rajah said that Singapore needs to find ways for working parents to enjoy a close familial bond without feeling guilty about work.

Ms Indranee touched on the fact that since families were encouraged to stay home due to the pandemic, many families in the conversation appreciated the time they had to spend with family, which speaks to the importance of this family bond.

This conversation series is part of the Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations and it aims to connect with 400 individuals from different backgrounds and stages of marriage and parenthood throughout these sessions. These sessions are open to all parents of Singaporean children and Singaporeans and their partners, even if they are non-Singaporean.

These sessions will collect feedback and will be taken into consideration when policies surrounding marriage and parenthood are being reviewed in Singapore.

In this session, around 50 parents with young children aged up to six years old attended the first of seven of these discussions around marriage and parenthood. Some topics in the recent discussion included their experiences as parents, how parenting has changed due to COVID-19 and what improvements they would want to see. Work-life balance, childcare costs and childrens’ different metrics of success were also discussed.

Here are some topics that were discussed in the session

Flexible work arrangements

In the conversation, a participant brought up that having flexible work arrangements means being able to work from home but also having the option to work at the office if they wanted to. They also mentioned that some workplaces did not embrace work-from-home arrangements, which could also be a hurdle.

Minister of State for Education and Social and Family Development Sun Xueling also touched on this point, mentioning that flexible work arrangements are not just about the location of the job, but also includes the flexibility of working hours and workloads. She added that the government is actively monitoring and exploring these flexible work arrangement possibilities with employers.

Unconventional pathways to success

Another key topic raised during the discussion was finding ways to create more pathways to success for children that did not revolve around traditional metrics of excellence in academic subjects such as mathematics or sciences. A parent added that they would be more reassured if it was ensured that their children would not be left behind should they choose more unconventional careers such as in music or arts. Other parents also mentioned that they would want their children to enjoy their childhood without high academic pressures when entering primary school.

Ms Indranee, who oversees the national population and talent division at the Prime Minister’s Office, said that accepting these unconventional pathways to success will take time and parents play a part in believing in it as well. Without parents who believe in these pathways, this will only continue to be an issue.

Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development, as well as Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua also supported Ms Indranee’s statement, as he discusses how all parents naturally want their children to succeed but Singaporeans should be more open to the idea of not getting a degree and exploring other less conventional pathways to success.

Childcare leave

Discussions over childcare leave were also brought up by several participants, calling for more days off, which currently sits at six annual days for parents with young children below seven as they fall sick more often.

A parent also suggested that maybe allowing parents to use their own hospitalisation leave for when their kids are hospitalised could also be an option.

If you would like to take part in these conversations, click here to find out more.

Source: The Straits Times

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