A brief overview of MSF’s work 2016

Whether it is to support families, foster a more inclusive Singapore, or provide a good start for every child, MSF will continue to work to nurture a resilient and caring society that can overcome challenges together.

Here are some of what MSF has done in 2016:

msf2016-strengtheningfamilies

Families are the building blocks of our society. That’s why we believe that having strong families is key to our nation’s progress.

Find out more:
Safe and Strong Familes Pilot: http://tinyurl.com/SSFpilot
Marriage Preparation Programme: http://tinyurl.com/marriageprogrammes
Positive Parenting Programme: http://tinyurl.com/TriplePPilot
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA): http://tinyurl.com/LPAFeeWaiver

msf2016-inclusivesociety

Building a society that supports those who come from less-advantaged backgrounds and those living with disabilities is important to us.

Find out more:
ComCare Assistance: http://tinyurl.com/ComCareAssistance
SHARE as One: http://tinyurl.com/SHAREasOne
Recommendations for 3rd Enabling Masterplan: http://tinyurl.com/Recommendations3EM

msf2016-goodstartforchildren

Our children are the nation’s future, and having a strong start in life will enable them to reach their potential in adulthood.

Find out more:
Baby Bonus scheme: http://tinyurl.com/BabyBonusScheme
KidSTART: http://tinyurl.com/KidSTARTpilot
Early Childhood Manpower Plan: http://tinyurl.com/EarlyChildhoodManpowerPlan
Amendments To The Child Development Co-Savings Act: http://tinyurl.com/AmendmentsToCDCA

To Love and to Cherish; For Better or for Worse

By Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

At MSF, we keep a close eye on statistics related to marriages and divorces. I looked through the latest annual report on Marriages and Divorces by the Singapore Department of Statistics – good to know that the number of marriages are more or less at status quo compared to the year before.

Overall, no drastic fluctuations. But there’s been a slight increase in the number of divorces.

All married couples will have challenges along the way. But if we take our vows seriously and view it as sacred, we owe it to each other and to our families to work through those difficult moments. Efforts to strengthen marriages can help. Sometimes, marriage counselling can help at an early stage, to soothe the tensions and save marriages.

singstat
Source: Singapore Department of Statistics

Unfortunately, sometimes, things don’t quite work out. Divorce is never easy for any couple, especially when children are involved.

We will introduce the Mandatory Parenting Programme at the end of the year for divorcing couples with young children. The programme will give them time and space to think deeply about issues they will face, both during and after divorce, and how they can protect their children’s interests will be emphasised in all they do.

Staying Committed

The promises and wedding vows we say may differ from couple to couple, but the underlying lifetime commitment remains consistent. When we fall in love and step into marriage, we wish to stay committed to our partners through thick and thin. And for that love to grow and become the cornerstone of the marriage. However, this doesn’t just magically happen so that we can live happily ever after. It requires us to work hard at it and to never take it for granted.

MSF and our partners run many marriage preparation and enrichment programmes in the community. These programmes will help us, as husbands and wives, to better understand and communicate with each other. It will give us skills to resolve conflicts when they arise.

A good marriage brings joy and deep fulfilment. But it will require our dedication and constant effort to nurture that relationship. Let us all remember our vows and renew our commitment to our spouses and our marriage.

Embracing our Roles in Life

By Parliamentary Secretary Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim

Throughout our lives, we take on many different roles. And the importance we place on each of these roles changes at different stages of our lives.

Sometimes, the beauty of life lies in its cyclical nature. Just last week, I saw 12 couples renew their marriage vows at the Family Life First Carnival and also sat in for a session of the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Programme (PREP).

At PREP, I met a lovely young couple – Darren and Clare – who will soon embark on their own journey together as husband and wife. They attended PREP to learn tips on building a marriage based on a strong foundation of love and understanding.

family life first_parl secAnd they said “I Do”…again.

This reminds me of how my wife and I learnt over the years that maintaining a strong marriage and being good parents does not come easy. We need to make a conscious effort to communicate, understand and to encourage each other. To keep our strong commitment to each other and to our children.

When my children were born, I felt like the happiest father alive! At the same time, I felt the pressure – I knew that as a father, I had to be a good role model and inculcate good values in my children. My father must have felt the same too.

Strong marriages lead to strong families. When we have a strong marriage, we will then be better able to create a happier environment for our children to grow in. If we lead by example, our children will learn to develop strong and lasting relationships of their own.

A father’s presence and influence in their children’s lives often mean more to them than they realise.

It is on occasions like Father’s Day that we are reminded of the responsibilities we have in shaping our children into individuals who are responsible, capable, giving and nurturing – who can also teach their children to embrace the various roles in life well.

This Father’s Day, let’s make the personal choice to spend time with our families meaningfully.

To all fathers and grandfathers, Happy Father’s Day!

Be a Dad for Life

By Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

Quick question for all dads: Has your Father’s Day celebrations been rather low key as compared to Mother’s Day celebrations?

Maybe it’s our traditional cultural roles that make it that way. How we think it’s Dad’s job to go out and make money, and Mum’s role to take care of the family.

But today, these traditional roles are evolving. Now, more couples take on shared responsibilities in supporting the family. Fathers are becoming more actively involved in their families.

There is no doubt that we, as fathers, play an important role in our children’s lives.

Sure, it’s easy to get caught up with work. But is the tradeoff really worth it? I’m sure we don’t want to miss hearing our child say their first word, or take their first step.

Children grow up so fast. I think it’s immensely important to create special memories and moments with our children from young. But we can start from everyday activities.

For example, I was glad to catch ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (on a movie date!) with my daughter after her exams were over. We had a great time discussing the movie afterwards…

xmenapoc

(…Such as how Professor X may need some Beijing 101 after the events of the movie)
Image: 20th Century Fox

So, time spent in both quality and quantity does matter. At the same time, do remember to appreciate our own fathers and include them in our celebrations too!

On the whole, it is good to see that more families and organisations are starting to celebrate Father’s Day in a big way. I’m glad to be a part of a few of these celebrations – such as the “Dad’s Day Out” event on Father’s Day today, and the Families for Life Father’s Day picnic later this month.

Fathering is a beautiful and meaningful journey, and I am proud to be a father. To answer my own question? It’s not about the size of the celebration, but the strength of the bond with my children that matters more to me. 🙂

To all Dads and Grandfathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!

The Toughest Job in the World

By Parliamentary Secretary Assoc Prof Faishal Ibrahim

Parl Sec_Mother.png

My late mother with her grandchildren

A mother’s job is to be on call – 24/7.

A mother has to multi-task between running the household, caring for the family, deal with ‘skirmishes’ between siblings…and so much more!

I think being a mother is the toughest job in the world. No previous experience required, but plenty of on-the-job training available. Although tough, the job comes with love, care and concern.

I remember my own late mother became the beacon of light for my family.  She worked very hard in the day, cooking in the early hours of the morning before going to work.   Sometimes, I wondered what kept her going.  It was clearly the love, care and concern that she had for the family.  It was also her sense of responsibility for the family.  My siblings and I are privileged to be part of this journey with her, which in turn shaped our character and lives.

Today, a woman’s role in society has evolved. Many mothers are active in the workforce. The proportion of dual-income married couples has also increased.

Juggling between work and family life is a struggle many mothers face. Previously, women were more likely to cite family-related responsibilities as the main reason for not working. Such choices are often personal, as all families have their unique situations.

We have put in place a number of initiatives to better support parenthood and families. This includes more family-friendly infrastructure and policies such as paternity leave and CDA First Step to help defray childcare costs.

Now, we have the choice to build and maintain strong family ties. I urge all dads out there to get more involved with (not only!) housework but in child care. I’m sure many of you can become as pro as Mom in no time!

This Mother’s Day, let’s take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices that the mothers in our life have made. Let’s give our moms and wives all the love they have given us, back to them.

Dads out there, let’s share the load. Let’s start small. I’m sure it will go a long way in truly supporting our wives.

Every Day is Mother’s Day

By Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

IMG_4013

My Mum and I

When our children were younger, they would hold your hand, come running to you to hug you and they will just absolutely adore you.

As they grow older, our love will also grow and our relationship with them will evolve. They will begin to have lives of their own and in turn, will one day become parents themselves too.

In our eyes, they will always be our little children. But do we not realise that our parents probably look at us the same way too? Do we take our parents for granted? Do we get more impatient as they begin to slow down with age? Do we show enough appreciation to them?

Occasions like Mother’s Day provide us an opportunity to reflect, remember and to celebrate. I am sure we all have our family traditions. It can range from flowers, chocolates, big dinners, or simple homemade cards or just preparing breakfast.

In truth, as a son, father and husband, I have come to realise that our wives and mothers deserve more than these once a year grand gestures of appreciation. We really should show our appreciation every day through our actions.

Making it a point to visit parents regularly or even just to call them are some things that we children can do for our parents. Simple gestures like helping to supervise the children’s homework, changing the baby’s diaper, or washing the dishes are just some things that we fathers can do for our families.

Although many women are the main caregivers for their children, more fathers do want to be involved. We want to encourage this and to provide more support such as paternity leave and flexi-work arrangements.

So what will you be doing this Mothers’ Day?  And what should we do to treat every day as Mother’s Day?

Meanwhile, to all the mothers and grandmothers out there, I wish you Happy Mothers’ Day!

The Key to a Happy Marriage

By Parliamentary Secretary A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim

Untitled design (1).jpg

I recently met an elderly couple in their 60s.

Having been married for over 40 years, they shared with me the magic formula behind their long-lasting marriage – “Give and take”, “Forgive and forget” and “Share your problems and housework”.

Indeed, their words remind me of the ‘beauty of imperfection’ in a marriage. Marriage is between two people who are imperfect, and yet can be perfect together.

When we recognize the imperfection of being a human, it is then that we can learn to give and take and be accepting of each other’s shortcomings.

I have realized that marriage is not only about filling a gap. Recognising the imperfection of your spouse comes along with an appreciation for each other and loving for each other.

And, it is key to be kind to each other. Being kind to each other opens up many doors of love in a relationship.

It is important for us to see this imperfection in a positive light, and how it leads to many more good things in our marriage.

How can We Strengthen our Marriages?

Many couples I know say that they are too tied down by work or their children to think about strengthening their marriage.

But investing in your marriage can be as simple as spending time with your spouse as part of your regular routine.

I know of a friend who often remarked to me how loving his parents are. He said, “Even after 30 years of marriage, they would still make it a point to spend me-time together.

They would hold hands and go for a walk in the park after dinner every day. My dad would wait at the MRT station to walk my mum home after work. My mum would help out in the kitchen when it’s my dad’s turn to cook dinner for the family.”

Daily simple gestures like these show our love and care for our spouse, and go a long way in helping us keep our marriage strong.

Importance of marriage preparation programmes

My officers at the Registry of Marriages (ROM) shared this heartwarming love story with me.

There was this young couple in their early twenties who fell in and out of love several times due to vast differences in their personality, family and educational backgrounds.

Despite the odds, they made the decision to get married.

They were well aware that it was unhealthy and unsustainable to blindly compromise on issues to keep the relationship going.

They signed up for PREP (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Programme) and have since learnt how to better communicate with each other, better appreciate each other and to resolve conflict in a peaceable manner.

This love story tells us that conflict is inevitable in all marriages, even if we do not like to admit it.

It is not a question of avoiding it, but of how we work together to resolve it. Conflict doesn’t need to lead to negative outcomes.

A happy, lasting marriage does not happen by chance.

I would like to encourage more couples to take pro-active steps like this young couple mentioned earlier, to strengthen their marriages.

It is through working together to resolve conflict that we can learn to accept, adjust and grow as a couple.