What are the best child-friendly attractions in the neighbourhood? Which paediatricians are open on a public holiday? Do I need to bring my child to see a doctor? These are just some of the many questions Chen Shichang had in the months after his first child was born.
The moments of confusion and doubt eventually passed, and now, the proud father of two—a 5- year-old girl and 8-month-old boy—feels far more equipped to handle the challenges that parenthood brings. But the experience of being overwhelmed as a new parent has taught him the value of having community support.
“It helps to speak to parents with children who are in the same age group, who understand how we are feeling and the issues that we face,” he explains, adding that this is why he signed up as a volunteer leader with Families for Life @ Community (FFL@Community): To create a network of support for families in his neighbourhood.
The role of an FFL volunteer leader
FFL@Community is an initiative that brings fun bonding activities as well as marriage and parenting programmes to different neighbourhoods across Singapore.
As a volunteer leader living in Punggol, a key part of Shichang’s role is to manage the Punggol Parents Telegram group chat. Parents in the neighbourhood are invited to join the chat, so they can connect with others in the same phase of life for advice and support.
Shichang also regularly shares in the parent peer support group chat about FFL activities and other family-friendly events that parents might be interested in attending. Where possible, he even organises physical meet-ups for the group, such as a family scavenger hunt activity during a group outing to SAFRA Punggol for National Family Week 2023 in June.
“We hope that through these meet-ups, parents can have the opportunity to mingle with other parents in Punggol, share parenting experiences, forge friendship and have fun bonding with their families,” Shichang says.
The benefits of family bonding activities
As someone who has participated in FFL activities for years, Shichang has seen firsthand how participating in such activities has benefits for the whole family. His daughter, for example, has been able to pursue her interests in arts and crafts, and slowly develop her confidence and social skills.
To him, volunteering with FFL is just another way to add value to his family life. By bringing his family along on his volunteering events, he can spend quality time with them as they all enjoy the activities planned. At the same time, the children are able to meet people from different walks of life, and learn valuable lessons about empathy and understanding as they grow up.
Shichang hopes that other parents will participate in FFL family-bonding events and even step up as volunteers like he has. But no matter the activity of choice, what is most important to him is this, he says: “Don't be afraid to seek help from others. Reach out for support from other parents in the community.” Because like other journeys in life, parenting will have its ups and downs—there is no need to walk alone.
Wondering about how you can start a meaningful activity with your family? Learn more about volunteering with our friendly team at Families for Life today!