The hard AND “heart” work that mums put into their families was recently highlighted. (Sunday Times, Just Given Birth? Cut Yourself Some Slack; May 6).
A 2016 study by Washington University found that young children who received love and affirmation from their mothers showed greater development in terms of learning, memories and emotional regulation, which was associated with better emotional well-being in the teenage years (Luby, Belden & Harmes et.al, 2016).
Mothers juggle multiple responsibilities on a daily basis, especially in managing the household and child care. Research has shown that more than half of women shoulder all or most of the household chores, as compared to 22% of men (McKinsey & Company, 2017). The value of a stay-at-home mum has been estimated to be equivalent to an annual salary of S$159,000 (Tuttle, 2015).
Many mothers also have careers outside the home. The Ministry of Manpower’s Labour Force Survey (Straits Times, 2017) showed more women participating in Singapore’s labour force over the past decade.
As women assume the mantle of motherhood, they need to be supported by a community that can provide much-needed encouragement and practical help. Mothers often end up carrying an invisible yet heavy ‘mental load’ that places them at risk for stress and burnout, unless they have the support of their family network and wider society.
Fathers play an integral role in this effort. By assuming part of the caregiving and household duties, they not only lessen the stress on their wife, but role model positive fathering for their children.
Employers, too, can play a part. Providing flexible work options facilitates an equitable sharing of parenting duties between husband and wife, and also helps mum-employees achieve optimal efficiency at work and at home.
After conducting over 6,000 family life programmes at Focus on the Family Singapore in the past 16 years, with mothers forming the majority of our parent participants, we’ve launched an exclusive mother-child programme to recognise and support mum’s irreplaceable and unique role.
Mrs Joanna Koh-Hoe, CEO of Focus Singapore, reflected, “Mothers can be the most giving and loving people, yet many of us suffer from “mother’s guilt”, feeling that we’ve not done enough or that there’s more that we could do. In my journey as a mother, I know that it means so much to receive a word of thanks or a thoughtful gesture from my husband and son.”
This Mother’s Day, as we celebrate mothers and the special role they play in our lives, let’s consider how we can proactively build the supportive community that every mother deserves.
Head, Research & Development
Focus on the Family Singapore
Luby, J. L., Belden, A., Harmes, M. P., Tillman, R., & Barch, D. M. (2016). Preschool is a sensitive period for the influence of maternal support on the trajectory of hippocampal development. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/04/20/1601443113
McKinsey & Company (2017). Women in the Workplace Study. Retrieved from
Tai, J. (2017). Growing number of women in the workforce. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/manpower/growing-number-of-women-in-the-workforce
Tuttle, B. (2015). The Truth About How Much a Mom Is Worth. Retrieved from http://time.com/money/3849100/what-mom-is-worth/