Parents' aspirations for their children to achieve have become more intense, highlighting how today's families face different challenges, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.
He said at a family empowerment lecture at Singapore Expo how competition, work stress and the aspiration "for our children to achieve is even more intense than ever. In the past, it was first have the kid and then figure out how to bring up the kid. Now it's the other way around."
Speaking to 3,000 parents at the event, organised by voluntary welfare organisation Jamiyah Singapore, Mr Chan recounted how an elderly couple had told him how their six children grew up in a one-room flat before going on to become graduates.
Yet when asked if the couple had any grandchildren, they told him their children were concerned about the cost of having kids - despite being much better off today than they had been.
Mr Chan said another challenge faced by a small country such as Singapore is that its cultural values are affected by new value systems across the world.
"Then there will be new and evolving family structures. In the past, we used to have extended families; nowadays we have nuclear or post-nuclear families. Our family sizes are getting smaller and smaller over the years. All these will pose challenges to the family as a core institution for our nation," he said.
Jamiyah handles around 120 marriage counselling cases a month, almost half of which end up in reconciliation.
Mr Chan stressed the importance of keeping families together for the sake of children, who can face difficulties growing up in single-parent families.
His own parents divorced when he was very young and he lived with his machine-operator mother.
"It is always your wish that when adults quarrel, the quarrels do not get passed on to the children," he said.
Madam Noraini Ambong, 53 - who has been married for more than 30 years - attended yesterday's lecture with her two grown-up children. "As parents we sometimes hold the old notion that we are right," she said. "Today, I have learnt that it is important to respect the views of the children."
This article was published on April 6 in The Straits Times.
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