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Monday, December 29, 2014

Better parenting friendly practices at work = better parents?

According to a recent employment survey performed by the Ministry of Manpower, more firms in Singapore are providing flexible work arrangements and leave benefits to help their employees with family commitments. Employees are now expecting and are getting more benefits/arrangements to achieve better work-life balance and generally be happier at work.

While I do appreciate the growing flexibility and options when it comes to parenting-friendly practices, we do need to re-think some of the following parenting choices which are becoming more common.

Going on unpaid leave to accompany their child taking a major exam
Even if the exams are getting tougher or more competitive these days, it is the children who need to go through the exams themselves. Surely the values of self-discipline, self-confidence, independence and responsibility would better help the child tackle the trials of life in the future than having fantastic PSLE scores that are aided by overly concerned parents? How many successful people in life do we know had the best scores back in school?

Working from home to keep an eye on their naughty children
There are many reasons why a child would be naughty or exhibit undesirable behaviour. It could even be a phase that needs no intervention to resolve. I would think the long term solution would be to tackle the root of the problem, instead of circling around our kids and watching like a hawk? The last thing we want to see is our naughty children exhibiting rebellious behavior as a result of our 'good intentions'.

Going on unpaid leave to help a child studying abroad to get used to the new environment
This seems pretty counter-intuitive to me. Studying abroad is a great (and expensive) opportunity for a young, sheltered person to learn independence, stretch themselves and broaden their horizons. Being put in a foreign environment encourages our children to adapt and be excited about new people, experiences and places. However, being physically there takes away the impetus to adapt and explore. Save your money and get used to Skype/Facetime/Google Hangouts!

I'm not against parenting-friendly practices don't get me wrong! However, I do think that as parents, we should be with our children at the moments when we are truly needed and appreciated. For example, watching our children perform or compete, nursing them when they fall sick, spending quality time with them when it is not possible on weekends, or just being there to offer our uninterrupted emotional support when they go through a bad patch.

We now have better tools, but are we using them to become better parents?


  1. I'm a FTWM who regularly works from home once a week. Both my parents and in-laws are working full time and I don't have a domestic helper. Working from home, I believe, is not just to keep an eye on the naughty children. In my case, it is to be the primary caregiver to my child (especially infants). Increasingly, there are more families where grandparents are still working (retirement age is now 67!) or unable to care for grandchildren (couples getting married later). Flexible work arrangements are really beneficial for such families, even those with domestic help (not all helpers are confident enough to care for infants). Needless to say, working from home saves a lot of (unproductive) time spent commuting.


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