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Employment and schooling key to helping vulnerable families build resilience: Panel

SINGAPORE – 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 at the Touch Family Conference on Thursday (April 29).

In a panel discussion on building resilient families, she noted that a stable employment situation 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 in to those routines (of going to work and school),” said Ms Sun, who is also Minister of State for Education.

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

The other panellists were Ms Susan Ng, a presenter with CNA938 and Mr CP Eruandee Prayitna, head of engagement and outreach at the Centre for Fathering. The panel was moderated by Mrs Anita Low-Lim, senior director of the 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 to keep the family united during difficult times.

Mrs Low-Lim said that communication and problem-solving skills are critical in helping the family 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 each other and not communicating their feelings honestly and openly, and this has caused a shutdown in the relationship,” she said.

She added: “We know once there is no relationship, there is no capacity to support each other.”

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 added.

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 consistency and stability that every child needs.

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

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“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.

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