Importance of families and providing them support
COVID-19 has helped many of us realise that we rely on family as a pillar of strength to tide us through uncertain times. The majority of us, across different age and ethnic profiles, feel that we enjoy support from our family and friends. In fact, many of us think that the COVID-19 period strengthened our familial ties and friendships. Even though working from home meant that some of us had to juggle caregiving for seniors and children amidst work demands, we could also enjoy more quality family time. We feel that having both parents work from home helped to rebalance gender roles in families by encouraging shared parental responsibilities and more active fathering. We also see the potential for employers to normalise flexible working arrangements, not just for families with young children but also those with ageing parents.
We also see new opportunities for social service agencies, ground-up groups, and the government to work more closely together to support families better. Coping with life transitions such as marriage, pregnancy, and parenting newborns can be challenging. In addition, those of us who stay in 1- and 2- room HDB flats, or are divorced or unemployed, feel less supported by family and friends. We think that it will be useful for social service agencies and the government to work together and with the community to support families through these transitions and difficulties.
Family violence in Singapore
At the same time, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced tensions and created new stressors, such as job and income losses and anxieties about an uncertain future. These may increase the risk of family violence. Some of us recognise the need for greater public awareness and understanding about family violence, so that as a community, we can do our part to reduce its occurrence. This could include finding out more about the impact of financial stress on vulnerable families, learning conflict resolution skills, and learning to recognise warning signs.