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WW Learning Journeys: Carrie Tan and Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim are rallying support for caregivers and mums

It is difficult for anyone to be carrying the main load of caregiving, even more so if you have to do it alone. And let’s face it – Singapore’s women are still expected to shoulder this responsibility in this time and age.  

Caregiver burnout is real. Taking care of others is a long journey which does not let up. Even the most resilient woman would question if she is doing it correctly or doing enough. 

The PAP Women’s Wing believes that no woman needs to walk these journeys alone

Carrie Tan: Caregiving is a community effort

Our MP Carrie Tan (Nee Soon GRC) sees how caregiving can be less stressful if we create an ecosystem of support. 

“We need to build up the community so that more people around us in the neighbourhoods will be able to chip in in some way or other to reduce the stresses and the burdens faced by our caregivers in their day-to-day,” she said in her Learning Journey video presented at Support for SG Families, our Women’s Wing (WW) Annual Conference last month (Jul 29). 

MP Tan (who is also the WW Head of Partnerships) has been rallying community stakeholders together in her Nee Soon South constituency: from caregivers themselves to local businesses to non-profit organisations to schools. When caregivers stumble, they simply have to reach out and this network will extend a reliable helping hand.

“At the Caregiver Resource Centre, we saw firsthand a caregiver who asked a question on caring for her loved one with dementia receive advice and emotional support from fellow attendees,” said Mr Adrian Tan of the Nee Soon-based Centre, which was part of MP Tan’s Learning Journey on enhancing programmes and services for caregivers. 

“By sharing and learning together, we can do our part to build a more supportive community to ease the burdens of women in society,” explained MP Tan to Petir.sg.  

Now, we can get behind this initiative. It builds — then accelerates — a virtuous cycle where people take turns helping each other get over rough patches.    

Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: Dads can parent collaboratively

Meanwhile, our MP Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (Chua Chu Kang GRC) has been active in his ward alongside dads from the Centre for Fathering/ Dads for Life. He hopes to shift mindsets from fathers helping mothers, to fathers co-parenting with mothers. Afterall, the responsibility of raising a child should not fall primarily on the mother.  

“Co-parenting is about equal partnership. And when you do that you’re showing and showcasing to our children who are looking up at us that we are doing it as equal partners and they can do it also when they grow up,” said MP Zhulkarnain in his Learning Journey video, where he spent time with the Centre’s dads sharing tips on collaborative parenting. 

“As a man, it’s not enough to just think ‘you put food on the table’. You need to be involved in your children’s lives. Taking care of them. Raising them up. Playing with them,” agreed the Centre’s Head of Outreach and Engagement Eruandee Prayitna.  
 
It is a timely shift. Singapore is in in a different socio-economic period of time from the 1980s or even the 1990s, with women and men now equally busy at work.  
 
Beyond the immediate burden-easing benefit of men sharing the child-raising load, collaborative parenting does help dads develop strong relationships with kids — this improves emotional well-being, self-esteem and sense of belonging for everyone involved. 
 
“When we do things together with our children, [when] we actively involve them, they not only see what it is that we contribute to our society. They can see for themselves, the goodness — the values — that they can bring, and change their mindset for the next generation,” said MP Zhulkarnian. 
 
Like caregiving in the community, collaborative parenting is a ground-level answer to how Singaporeans can approach family obligations. They both complement how the WW consistently pushes in Parliament for policies reflecting women’s needs and aspirations — these altogether empower women to reach their fullest potential.