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TJoa Shze Hui
Friday, Sep 5, 2014

Singapore

Poll respondents lament lack of family time

The Straits Times | TJoa Shze Hui | Friday, Sep 5, 2014

Four in 10 people here have six hours or fewer to spend with their families each week.

So it is not surprising that almost half of the 872 respondents polled were dissatisfied with how little family time they had, according to non-profit organisation Families for Life (FFL).

The FFL Council conducted the survey last month through its Facebook page and at various FFL events, mostly among parents of young and adult children.

For most survey respondents, family time meant having heart-to-heart conversations, going on fun outings or having regular meals together. They also indicated that family time mattered more to them than achieving financial, career or personal goals.

In a speech yesterday, council chairman Ching Wei Hong said the results were a timely reminder about the necessity of making time for one's family.

"As members of families ourselves, we understand how the pressures of our fast-paced environment can affect quality family time," he said. "Yet it is up to us to intentionally decide to carve out time for our loved ones."

To give families more opportunities to spend time together, the FFL has revamped its annual Families for Life Celebrations from a month-long affair into a year-long programme which includes regular picnics held at parks on the last Saturday of each month. Details will be announced later.

Families can bond at the picnics by taking part in sand sculpting, popiah wrapping, kite flying and outdoor movie screenings.

FFL hopes the programme will inspire families to set aside regular time for one another instead of getting together just for special or festive occasions.

The survey also found that respondents lack quality family time because they use up their free moments on errands, work long hours, and have children who are more interested in screen time than family bonding.

Housewife Marlina Mohamed Pamli, 39, forbids her sons to surf the Internet at the dinner table.

"They used to be so busy with their phones all the time," said the mother of three boys aged five to 17.

"But now they have to give 100 per cent of their emotional attention to the family so that we can talk about our daily lives properly. This has helped us get closer."

tjoash@sph.com.sg

This article was published on Sept 3 in The Straits Times.

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